Has Lindsey Graham done gone and lost his damn mind? Something has to account for his 180 degree spin on Donald Trump. Graham has been going back and forth like a ping pong ball on Trump. Graham famously said in February, 2016, “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.” Then, in December, 2017 he told CNN:
“What concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook not fit to be president,” Graham told CNN. “It’s pretty frustrating for most Republicans, quite frankly, that it’s 24/7 attack on everything the president does or thinks. It gets a little old after a while.”
This is very different from the stance Graham took in early 2016, when Trump was running for president in the Republican primary. Back then, Graham, who supported Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign at the time and had previously run in the primary himself, called Trump a “kook” and “crazy” in an interview with Fox News. He said his party had gone “batshit crazy” because it was backing Trump. He also tweeted that Trump is “not fit to be President of the United States.”
Graham voted for independent Evan McMullin in 2016 because he said he “couldn’t go where Trump was taking the party.”
Then there was the exchange over Jeff Sessions, where Graham declared that “there would be holy hell to pay” if Trump fired Sessions, followed up by Graham rolling over on that shortly thereafter, saying in August that Trump should in fact replace Sessions because their relationship was “beyond repair.” So. What. Happened? Washington Post:
In an interview, Graham said the answer is simple: He was mad because the whole thing [Kavanaugh confirmation] felt like a sham to him; because the process made the Senate look bad and a “good man” look worse; and because when Democrats nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Graham had voted to confirm them.
He knocked down the theories floated by armchair shrinks on cable news panels and professional rabble-rousers such as Bill Maher who have wondered aloud whether the recent death of John McCain, Graham’s close friend and mentor, has left the South Carolinian rudderless and without his moral compass.
“I said my goodbyes,” Graham said. “It was just me and John and Cindy and he said ‘Keep it going, boy,’ and I said, ‘I will.’ ”
Still, he said, “I’m not living my life going forward around John McCain.”
It’s most likely that if Graham’s dear friend and best friend in the Senate, McCain, was still around that Graham wouldn’t be acting this way — at least not the red faced raging in the Senate, when McCain was the very voice of protocol and procedure.
“Why do you play golf with him,” Graham said McCain would ask him. “I told him I hope you understand. . . . The best place to talk to him is in his world.”
To take Graham at his word, he has truly grown to like Trump. And even if he doesn’t agree with everything the president does or says, Graham sees him as a good vehicle for a conservative agenda.
There’s also, of course, the unsaid calculus: Graham, like Trump, is up for reelection in 2020, and his popularity is inextricably linked to the president’s. If the people of South Carolina like Trump, well, then Graham better like him, too.
“If Graham were to be primaried today, he would be in trouble, and they know it,” said a South Carolina Republican strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he stays in touch with Graham. “They know that one bad tweet from the president and it could be over.”
If Graham’s future could hinge on one bad tweet maybe it’s already over and he just never saw it going.
So one of Trump’s most vocal critics is now one of his greatest allies, and all because the name of the game is staying in the game. This is why people hate politicians, plain and simple.
Apparently Lindsay Graham has decided that it’s better to rule in Hell.