In May 2016, Lindsey Graham tweeted, “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed . . . and we will deserve it.” This tweet turned out to be prescient. But this was from the before times, before Lindsey Graham jumped on the Trump train and joined him on the golf course. Yes, believe it or not, there was a time in July 2015 when Lindsey Graham called Trump a “jackass.” But that Lindsey Graham left us around the time that Sen. John McCain died. The country lost a war hero and Graham lost his moral compass.
The new Trumpy Lindsey Graham occupies a changed landscape, or perhaps his Trumpism changed the landscape. Whatever it is, Lindsey’s Senate seat is no longer the safe Southern seat he inherited from segregationist Strom Thurmond. In fact, the Cook Political report just moved his state from “Lean Republican to Toss Up.” But the gentleman from South Carolina will not go quietly into that good night, despite the fact that his opponent just raised the most money a Senate candidate has ever raised in one quarter: $57 million dollars. Some people might take that as a sign that people don’t want them in office, any longer. But not Lindsey. Lindsey will not be deterred and he now occupies his days begging for money on Fox “News,” saying he’s getting “killed financially,”
This week was supposed to be a good week for Lindsey Graham, As Jessica Taylor wrote in Cook earlier this month, “There is one remaining Hail Mary for Graham—the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett that begin next week, in which he’ll have the starring role as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.” The hearings should have been a cakewalk, an easy win, after all the vote is all but a done deal. The republicans have the votes; the Democrats are merely chasing windmills. Hell, Lindsey even tricked Dianne Feinstein into hugging him, thus infuriating Democrats and decent people everywhere.
But Lindsey had trouble focusing on what should have been his moment. Instead of just rallying his base around this anti-choice anti-RBG judge, and owning the libs by gleefully rushing through a Supreme Court justice nomination two weeks before Election Day—when thousands of people around the country are ALREADY VOTING—Lindsey was unable to get out of his own way and just enjoy his moment of ill-gotten triumph.
No, the gentleman from South Carolina was too stuck in his own conservative outrage machine. So instead of using the Amy Coney Barrett hearings to delight his base of handmaidens, Lindsey used his perch on the Senate Judiciary Committee to complain about being out-raised by his Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison. “I don’t know what’s going on out there, but I can tell you there’s a lot of money been raised in this campaign. I’d like to know where the hell some of it’s coming from.” Lindsey also used the opportunity to complained about Citizen’s United, which might have come as a big surprised to Graham’s evil twin, Mitch McConnell.
But that was not Lindsey’s only misstep. At one bizarre moment, he even mused about the “good old days of segregation.” Not a great look for a white Southern senator. He later said he was being sarcastic but why should a Southern white man be given the benefit of the doubt that he was joking about racism, especially one who also “joked” in his debate with Harrison that Black people in South Carolina should feel safe to anywhere in their state – as long as they were “conservative.”
And then there was Lindsey’s anti-Obamacare monologue. Perhaps Lindsey forgot that taking away people’s healthcare during a pandemic is not the most popular move, as Democrat after Democrat argued, as it became clear that they would not be able to stop this nomination and thus warned the country of what her ninth vote would mean.
But Graham wasn’t having it. “From my point of view, Obamacare has been a disaster for the state of South Carolina.” Graham began. “All of you over there want to impose Obamacare on South Carolina. We don’t want it. We want something better. We want something different. You know, what we want in South Carolina? South Carolina-care, not Obamacare.”
There is just one problem, after nearly four years in the White Trump has yet to explain what this “something better” is. (He also dodged a question about his missing health care plan during his NBC town hall on Thursday with a dogged Savannah Guthrie pressing him to explain where the much-promised plan was.) Like his newfound hero,Lindsey also neglected to elaborate on what this “something better” was.
Later after the hearings, Lindsey started fundraising in the Senate building which is an ethics no-no. (I mean we don’t hear a lot about ethics anymore and yet.) Graham said, “I think people in South Carolina are excited about Judge Barrett.” Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “I don’t know how much it affected fundraising today, but if you want to help me close the gap . . . Lindsey Graham dot com — a little bit goes a long way.” Needless to say the next day, there were two ethics complains filed against Lindsey.
Will Lindsey Graham get reelected? It’s anyone’s guess, the polling is all over the place from R+6 to D+1. But even if he gets re-elected, there’s a sense in which Lindsey has already destroyed himself. A former supporter of Graham, the law professor Benjamin Edwards told the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, “I’m bothered by the fact that Lindsey Graham did not stand up for his friend John McCain,” Edwards said. “If he won’t stand up for his best friend then what will he do for me?” If you don’t have any values than what’s the point? It you stand for nothing at all, why be in government? Why bother?
Does Lindsey Graham bring this on himself when he willingly decided to throw his lot in with the orange-hued charlatan in the White House and compromising all his principles to him? The short answer is yes. Lindsey cared about one thing and one thing only: power and his desperate desire to keep it. And this may be the thing that causes him to lose it.
And he will deserve it.