LINDSEY GRAHAM, PATRIOT…. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has taken it upon himself to be one of the Senate’s most aggressive critics of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, going so far as to tell reporters yesterday that the Supreme Court nominee has “a character problem.”

What’s driving Graham’s hostility? According to this Roll Call piece, the Republican senator has some kind of larger partisan strategy in mind. (via Media Matters Action Network)

Obama supported an unsuccessful effort in 2006 to filibuster Alito’s nomination, Graham argued, adding that it would put Republicans at a disadvantage if they did not use that same standard when deciding whether to support Sotomayor’s nomination.

“I’m not doing the country any good looking back playing a game of tit for tat. But I’m not going to put my party at a disadvantage if this is the way the game is played,” Graham said.

There seems to be two problems here. The first is obvious — Graham thinks playing petty games with the Sotomayor nomination is unhelpful to the country, but what benefits the United States isn’t quite as important to him as giving an advantage to the Republican Party.

Remember all of those “Country First” podiums Lindsey Graham stood behind last year? Neither does he.

The other problem is Graham’s calculation itself. As he sees it, Republicans need to “play the game,” which in this case means “looking back” and “playing a game of tit for tat.” But how, exactly, does this give Republicans an advantage? Put another way, why would the GOP be at a disadvantage if Republican senators evaluated Sotomayor’s qualifications, put her through her paces during the confirmation hearings, and then rendered a verdict during an up-or-down vote?

The suggestion is this would give Democrats some kind of edge. I’m not sure why.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.