Yet Graham is, in some respects, a perfect foil for Paul. It’s a lot easier for a libertarian-leaning presidential candidate to make a case against aggressive military intervention when the poster boy for the neocon cause is a cartoonish, blustery senator who never met a hyperbole he didn’t like. Consider the Palmetto State lawmaker’s anti-Paul line: “If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al Qaeda or ISIL — anybody thinking about that? — I’m not going to call a judge, I’m going to call a drone and we will kill you.” A drone strike for your thoughts!
This is part of a larger pattern with Graham — and one that reveals that the neocon position is often little more than tough talk papering over an intellectually hollow core. During a debate over the indefinite detention provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, Graham exclaimed on the Senate floor, “And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer.'”
The trouble here is that we’re not just talking about terrorists, but due process rights for American citizens. Graham finds such constitutional niceties annoying. “Free speech is a great idea,” he has said, “but we’re in a war.”