5 Legit Reasons Lindsey Graham Belongs In At Least One Republican Debate In The Fourth Round

The candidates appearing in the fourth Republican presidential debate has been announced, and a familiar face is apparently fading away. According to the rules set forth for the Fox Business Network/The Wall Street Journal debate on Nov. 10, candidates that didn't clear a 2.5 percent polling average in the previous four national polls could only participate in the undercard debate, and candidates who couldn't pass a one percent threshold are shut out of even that consolation prize. And so: here are five reasons Lindsey Graham should make the GOP debate, even though he missed the cut.

Look, there are too many Republican candidates, everyone gets that. The stability and predictability of the field has been pretty well blown to hell by the twin ascendance of real estate mogul Donald Trump and laconic neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, and maybe that's what's kept some of these obvious dead-enders from dropping out for so long — the tantalizing, likely deceptive sense that anything is possible.

But Graham deserves to be there, dammit! He's been a consistent bright spot throughout the previous three undercard debates (with the exception of his reflexive pivoting of almost every issue to radical Islam), showing a sort of good humor, energy, and geniality that other second-tier challengers like Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum can't hope to match. Here are five reasons he ought to be let back in.

1. He "Won" Two Of The Three Undercard Debates

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Obviously, it's hard — impossible, really — to judge who really won a political debate and who lost, because these things don't always benefit the people with the straightest facts, so much as the slickest delivery. But a conventional wisdom always seems to take hold in the aftermath, and that conventional wisdom says that Graham was the standout winner of the last two undercard debates. The first one, held back on Aug. 6, was widely credited as a victory for Carly Fiorina, and it successfully vaulted her onto the big stage. But no such bump for Lindsey. What the hell, Republican America?

2. He's The Only Veteran In The GOP Field, And That Says A Lot

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This is the very argument that Graham's campaign manager Christian Ferry made after the news that his candidate had missed the cut, as the AP details.

It is ironic that the only veteran in the race is going to be denied a voice the day before Veterans Day. In the end, the biggest loser tonight is the American people and the Republican presidential primary process that has been hijacked by news outlets.

Whether or not you think military experience is beneficial in a presidential candidate, it's a pretty stark reality right now: for a political party that's so abundantly open to military intervention, Graham is the only actual veteran of the bunch, even though he never saw any combat (he was a member of the Air Force Reserve during the Persian Gulf War).

3. He's The Only Candidate To Publicly Celebrate Drinking

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Whether it's calling for Washington power players to do more drinking (he actually pledged that "if I'm president, we're going to drink more"), or pouring out some beers behind the bar (reportedly badly), or playing a game of "date, marry, or make disappear forever" — that's the clean version, needless to say — Graham has been more than willing to trumpet the virtues of occasional booziness.

4. He Wants To Be Commander-In-Chief So Badly

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Tip for aspiring politicians: saying the words "commander-in-chief" over and over again will not actually increase your chances of becoming commander-in-chief. It will make it easier for CNBC to throw together a slightly demeaning supercut of all the times you said it, however.

5. It's Not Like It Matters

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Chris Christie? Bobby Jindal? Rick Santorum? Mike Huckabee? Not a presidential contender to be found. And furthermore, Graham falling out altogether removes every ounce of humor, wit, and congeniality from the undercard event. Now, instead of listening to his unique blend of desperate, earnest pleas for support and frequent moments of dry, self-effacing southern charm, we're stuck with more of Chris Christie's hapless, impotent roars.

In short, whatever you think about the guy's politics, Lindsey Graham was pretty fun. And now, with his absence, the FBN/WSJ undercard debate will probably be anything but.