Of course Lindsay Graham is having fun. He’s not even on the radar as far as polling for GOP presidential candidates is concerned. So he can go to New Hampshire and wow them with his experience and his no-nonsense answers that ignore poll-friendly rhetoric, and be a more affable version of Senator McCain. He doesn’t have to deal with the tag-team attacks, like Scott Walker, by Washington Examiner journalists over his answers in Iowa on ethanol, always a tricky issue. Comparing Walker’s stance on ethanol to his possible weakness as a leader against terrorists like ISIS is like playing hardball before the lights have even really been turned on in the ball park. But that’s the way it should be for a front runner for the GOP nominee. And that’s the way it should be for Lindsay Graham as well. He has earned the respect and enmity of many for his bipartisan and independent stances on domestic issues and for his hawkishness on foreign policy issues. To somehow have charted an independent course as a GOP judiciary committee member during Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, for example, is a measure of who he is and who he might be as president.

The fact that hardly any voters or donors consider Graham a feasible candidate at this point is also fine. Lindsay Graham is a known commodity, at least as a senator, and a dark horse, to say the least, as a candidate. In some ways it’s the best of both worlds for the senator from South Carolina. He has the freedom to be who he is and say what he thinks. And little by little, he may actually start to appear in some polls. As his visibility as a potential contender increases, so will the tag team media attacks. At that point we will get to have a good look at Lindsay Graham the presidential candidate under fire. One hopes that he responds by doing exactly what he’s doing at this early stage in the nominee race: giving answers that are too good natured to be labelled blunt, unlike Ted Cruz, but are as about as direct as you can get. The process needs Lindsay Graham, if only as a reminder of what an optimistic and fresh approach, even if it comes from a veteran senator, is like.