Delicious schadenfreude, from Dave Weigel at the Washington Post:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) jumped out of a gray SUV and got back to work. Joined by a small staff and a few fellow Republicans, he’d taken an aerial tour to see Hurricane Joaquin’s flood damage to South Carolina. Now, he was hitting the ground to meet its victims, walking down the sloping streets of a neighborhood where each house was being emptied before the mold could conquer it.
“Everybody gripes about the government until they need it – sort of like a lawyer,” said Graham, the state’s senior senator and a struggling candidate for president who is among the diminishing number of Republicans still talking about the great things government can do.
In a week that began with Hurricane Joaquin’s floods and ended with the House Republican caucus rejecting the heir apparent to House Speaker John Boehner, flood relief stood out as an ironic topic in this key early nominating state. Skepticism of Washington and fear of federal power, always strong here, have rarely been stronger. Several of South Carolina’s Republican members of Congress are among the leaders of the rebellion underway inside the GOP.
All of it cements the uncertainty pervading the Republican presidential nominating contest — here and across the country. Much like in Washington, where the abrupt withdrawal from the speaker’s race of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled total party chaos, the view is fading that, eventually, this presidential race will get back to normal.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who recently called South Carolina a “lock,” is at 5.7 percent here, according to the RealClearPolitics average. That’s good enough for only fifth place, 28 points behind frontrunner Donald Trump and 12 behind former neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Four years ago, on his way to losing the state primary, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney never polled lower than 13 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another establishment favorite who is ahead of Bush nationally and rising in recent polls, is currently even further behind in South Carolina, with a RealClearPolitics average of just 5 percent.
“The pattern of crowning the nominee has been broken,” said Barry Wynn, a former South Carolina GOP chairman whose office is festooned with Bush memorabilia, down to a “I Miss W” coffee mug…
“I tell ya, in retrospect, I don’t think we got a lot from George W. Bush,” said state senator Lee Bright, a 2014 primary opponent of Graham who now co-chairs the South Carolina presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “You’d hope with the justices he appointed we’d see some improvement. We didn’t. Bush definitely didn’t move the ball for conservatives. If he’d have done half as much for conservatives as Obama did for liberals, anybody named Bush would have been our next president.”…
Emphases mine, of course.