TOUGH FOLKS TO PLEASE…. When I see Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), I see a conservative Republican senator who talks a bit about constructive policymaking, but who invariably fails to follow through.

When his right-wing constituents see Graham, they see a senator willing to betray their extremist ideals.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who often finds himself out of step with the most conservative elements of his party, was censured by yet another GOP county party committee Monday night.

In recent months, Graham has been censured by GOP party committees in Lexington and Charleston counties. On Monday, the Greenville GOP Executive Committee passed a censure resolution by a vote of 61-2.

“THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Greenville County Republican Party hereby issues this formal rebuke of Senator Graham for his cooperation and support of President Obama and the Democratic Party’s liberal agenda for the United States,” the resolution reads.
The resolution says Graham will no longer be invited to participate in meetings or other events sponsored by the Greenville County Republican Party, and alleges Graham has “abandoned the Republican platform.”

How odd. Graham’s voting record is very conservative, and he’s backed every Republican filibuster — good lord, there’s been a lot of them — on every Democratic proposal.

Why on earth would they censure him? The resolution points to (1) Graham’s vote on the financial industry bailout; (2) his stance on immigration reform; and (3) his confirmation vote on Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

But (1) Graham’s position on TARP was the same position taken by the Republican White House, the Republican House leadership, the Republican Senate leadership, Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin. Have they all “abandoned the Republican platform”?

On immigration, Graham was willing to talk about a compromise, but he abandoned the talks and killed the legislation. Shouldn’t the GOP base be pleased?

And, sure, he voted for Sotomayor, but so did seven other Republicans. It was something of a no-brainer.

I feel ridiculous defending Graham from other Republicans, but the larger significance of this is important: the GOP base wants to create an environment in which Republican lawmakers should be afraid to even talk to Democrats. That was the lesson of Sen. Bob Bennett’s (R) defeat in Utah, and the motivation for resolutions like this one in South Carolina. Rank-and-file Republicans want leaders who aren’t interested in discussions, oppose compromise, and seek to do little more than destroy any hopes at solving problems.

It’s really not healthy.

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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.