The Charleston County Republican Party needs to be commended for censuring Lindsey Graham.

Commended, committed - whatever.

Less than a month out from the June primary, the county party's executive committee on Monday night bravely voted to condemn South Carolina's senior senator for his woeful failings as a leader, and as a Republican.

Whatever that means.

The committee members did this out of principle, obviously, without any concern that such criticism of one of the highest-profile Republicans in the state might cost the party a Senate seat.

See, Graham is the clear frontrunner in the race, and some of the six other "Republicans" running against him would probably lose in the general election to an inanimate object. Which is all the Democrats could put up.

But the principled Charleston County Republicans did it anyway.

You know why they had to do it? Well, Graham has apparently compromised with Democrats and supported a tax increase or two.

A real Republican would never do any of those things. Except, of course, Ronald Reagan - who did both of those things. Often.

But we don't talk about that.

The point is, the current leaders of the Charleston County Republican Party sure showed Lindsey Graham.

They showed him that they are just as looney and out of touch as the rest of this state.

That's not your job

Now, it's not fair to blame Republicans for this.

There were several adults in the room Monday night who tried to stop this high school, "Mean Girls" malarkey.

The resolution makes it clear this isn't on traditional Republicans. This is all Libertarian and 9/12er drama in tea party packaging. The censure includes several rants against the "Muslim Brotherhood," fawning mentions of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, and slaps Graham for daring to criticize Michele Bachmann, genius that she is.

Oh, and the resolution also takes a swipe at the "unproven theory of 'global warming.'"

This isn't the GOP, this is FOX.

Now, as former county party chair Sam McConnell says, judging candidates is not the job of the party. It is supposed to enlist candidates, support them and remain neutral. Graham, he notes, has committed no punishable offense.

"He has voted his conscience," McConnell says. "To condemn someone for that is zealotry."

Yes, that's exactly what it is. But beyond the nuts and bolts (mostly nuts) of the censure, there is the question: why? Why would you attack a party standard-bearer a few weeks out from an election?

"We have a primary coming up in short order," says Cindy Costa, a longtime Republican National Committeewoman. "If you don't want Lindsey Graham to be your senator, go vote for someone else. This doesn't help the Republican Party."

She's absolutely right. But then, these are the same folks who tried to prevent voters from selecting the party's nominee just so they could subvert the popular vote and oust Graham.

Former party chair Lin Bennett says Monday night's vote was the same sort of thing.

"It was an effort to impact an election," Bennett says, "and it shouldn't have happened."

WWDD?

As Costa says, Graham has a pretty conservative record. "You're not going to agree with anyone 100 percent of the time, other than yourself," she says.

But that is the litmus test for some of these people when they should be focused on other things.

"Why don't they censure Obama?" Costa says.

Good question. It would do about as much good.

A lot of Republicans are grumbling about the censure vote, worried that the party is "eating its own." As they should be.

"I'm not sure what we accomplished with that vote," says Charlie Lybrand, the county's Register of Mesne Conveyance.

Uh, nothing. The primary will go on, Graham will likely prevail and that will gall the county party leaders.

See, in 10 of the 30 counts against Graham, the resolution mentions that he didn't do like Sen. Jim DeMint in any given situation. Well, Jim DeMint couldn't get support within his own party. And he is a quitter.

But maybe that's what they are driving at. They want Graham to take the money and run, too.

Despite the claims in this resolution's preamble, the people running the Charleston County GOP right now do not have the market cornered on the "long-established and fundamental principles" of the Republican Party.

If they really understood the fundamental principles of the Republican Party, they would remember Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Speak Ill of Another Republican.

Especially right before a primary in which you are supposed to remain neutral.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com