I got to know then-Rep. Graham some 10-11 years ago under adverse circumstances. I was on TV virtually every night defending President Clinton from efforts by the House Republicans to impeach him; Mr. Graham was, by far, the most effective of all the House floor managers in arguing the case for impeachment, and frequently we would find ourselves in “Green Rooms” (holding rooms) at CNN or MSNBC before we went on-air to debate. And it was hard not to get friendly with him and make small talk — he’s that nice a guy in person.
On one occasion after a TV show, not too long after the Senate trial in which President Clinton was acquitted, he asked me if I wanted to have a beer and compare perspectives on the whole experience. I of course said yes — curious as to how the world looked through his eyes, still thinking of him as a partisan, conservative Republican, driven by dislike of Mr. Clinton.
I was surprised by what I heard and came to know about Mr. Graham. He left me with the impression, without saying in so many words, that in retrospect he wished there had been an alternative to impeachment. He talked about some of the possible lost opportunities to resolve the matter short of impeachment, especially just after the November 1998 midterm congressional elections, when the Democrats had surprised everyone (including themselves) and actually gained seats. But he still strongly believed he had done the right thing by supporting impeachment.