Something very disturbing happened on Thursday, something tragic and unreal. We saw the “conscience of the nation” abandon its last vestiges of ethical norms. We saw the Senate Judiciary Committee devolve into a shouting match between a SCOTUS nominee and sitting elected Senators. We saw a man, credibly accused of sexual assault, ricochet between crying over his daughters’ empathy and spitting conspiratorial nonsense about the Clintons. And then we saw Lindsey Graham pile on in the most indignant hypocrisy I’ve ever witnessed from a sitting Senator, lamenting the scrutiny that Kavanaugh has had to face with the true fervour of someone who has bought into the Trump ethos so completely and totally as to become indistinguishable from Trump himself. Which is odd, when you think about it, because not that long ago Lindsey Graham hated Donald Trump…
Politicians lie. It’s what they do, and we’re not all that surprised when they do it anymore. We’ve become accustomed to this behaviour. It’s still unfortunate, and it makes my skin crawl that we can’t trust our elected officials to walk the walk after they talk the talk, but it’s not like this is anything new and astounding, either. So it doesn’t surprise me that Lindsey Graham is a liar. But after his Drama Queen performance on Thursday, I really want to dive deep into what he said, the root causes behind the hypocrisy of his words, and the ethical problems facing this one time Never Trumper turned Trump Loyalist.
Lindsey Graham was, in fact, one of the more vocal Never Trump Republicans in 2016! Don’t forget, Graham hated Trump, denounced the awful and despicable things Trump said on the campaign trail, and even went so far as to say publicly that he wouldn’t vote for him.
I don’t think he’s a reliable Republican conservative,” Graham said, “I don’t believe that Donald Trump has the temperament and judgment to be commander in chief. I think Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone and I’m not going with him.”
– Lindsey Graham (CNN)
Today, however, you can find Graham on the golf course with Trump all the time, licking his boots as it were. Trump and Graham have become best buds these days, gone are the clear eyed warnings of Trump’s unfitness for office or rebukes for his uncivilised behaviour. Lindsey Graham is now one of Trump’s most ardent supporters and vocal defenders, even to the point of making an ass of himself.
You know what concerns me about the American press is this endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook, not fit to be president.”
– Lindsey Graham, 2017
I think he’s a kook, I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”
– Lindsey Graham, 2016
It must be embarrassing to have such statements on record, but when you’re an unscrupulous opportunist perhaps it’s easy to get past embarrassment?
The theory is that Graham has cozied up to Trump in order to influence his policy decisions, to make him more “moderate”, more like Graham himself—if you can call Graham a moderate. But one thing I’ve observed of the President is that influence operations on a narcissist often fail. What Trump cares most about is Trump and the public perception of Trump. So, with that in mind, how does one attempt to influence a cogent policy platform? We’ve heard over and over again that the inside of the Trump White House is utter chaos from numerous reports and anonymous tips.
So here’s the thing, some of the most flagrant hypocrisy from Graham’s Drama Queen rant on Thursday had to do with the whole thing being “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.” I submit to you that, in fact, that distinction actually goes to the Republican’s refusal to even hold hearings for Merrick Garland when he was nominated to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Justice Scalia’s untimely death, a tactic that Lindsey Graham was in full support of. The Senate has the duty to advise and consent to the Presidents nominees for the Supreme Court, and in Scalia’s own “originalist” interpretation it would be an affront to the Constitution for the Senate to simply decide not to do so. But even worse, again according to Scalia’s philosophy, it would be tantamount to rewriting the Constitution for the Senate to choose to forego its advise and consent duties for over a year because there was an election approaching!
When Lindsey Graham says anything about Brett Kavanaugh not getting a fair shake from Senate Democrats, all you need do to refute his argument is point to his support of the treatment of Merrick Garland. He doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Sure, there are a number of Democrats who came out a little too quickly against Kavanaugh’s nomination, saying they’d be voting against him before they’d had a chance to do any sort of due diligence on his jurisprudence or history, but they’re no where near the obstructive abuse of power the GOP has shown in its most recent history. And when that due diligence was done, there are plenty of reasons to oppose Kavanaugh from the near certainty that he was picked for his all but unspoken commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade to his dubiously unanswered position on whether or not the President should be able to a) pardon himself, b) have to answer a subpoena whilst in office, c) be subject to criminal proceedings whilst in office, etc. Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court could, and I believe would, represent a clear and present danger to our democracy in the age of the Trump Presidency.
There’s little to be said for Lindsey Graham’s shouting tirade in the Judiciary Committee chamber. Sure, it was impassioned and fervent. But it was completely outside the bounds for the behaviour and temperament of a Senator. This is not how our elected officials are expected to behave. He should be ashamed of himself for his outburst(s) of yelling, finger pointing, wild accusations, and flippant conspiracies.
Much like Kavanaugh himself, Lindsey Graham demonstrated he does not have the temperament for the office he holds.
Project Red Map
Perhaps the most disturbing hypocrisy of Lindsey’s tirade, however, were the lines accusing Democrats of having corrupt motives behind their actions against Kavanaugh. He essentially accused the Democratic party members on the committee of wanting to hold the seat on the Supreme Court open until they’ve won control of the Congress back and could force the President to install their preferred candidate on the court.
If you wanted a FBI investigation, you could have come to us. What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that, not me. You’ve got nothing to apologize for.”
– Lindsey Graham (Transcript, Washington Post)
The problem with this accusation is that the Republicans wouldn’t be in power today were it not for the unscrupulous, underhanded, unfair gerrymandering programme that the GOP coordinated across the nation after the 2010 Census called Project Red Map. Republicans shouldn’t be in power, the country is not accurately represented by their leadership. Just look at the party registration numbers. There are more people in the nation registered as Democrats than there are registered as Republicans. The numbers don’t add up, they don’t make sense. Sure, there are flashy maps that the right loves to show off with the majority of the United States painted in red proclaiming that there’s so much more “Republican country” out there, but what you have to realise is that all of that land is empty space. There’s no one there. Empty land doesn’t vote, it doesn’t count as a representative apportionment.
Replot that same data as a cartogram and you’d see a vastly different United States than what the GOP wants you to believe in. Check these two maps against one another, they’re from the same election in 2012 and show the same data. The “normal” map seemingly shows a nation that’s mostly Republican while the cartogram more accurately shows a nation that’s majority Democrat. It’s because the vast majority of that red space on the “normal” map is empty. There’s no one there. The blue spaces are where all the people in the United States are, it’s where the cities and suburbs are. There is no “silent majority” in this vast red area… it is just rural land and empty space.
Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham.”
– Lindsey Graham (Transcript, Washington Post)
Project Red Map, or REDMAP, has perverted the Congress and installed the party of bad ideas, corporate welfare, broken tax policy, and self aggrandisement. So for Graham to say he hopes that Democrats never come to power, that he hopes Democrats never have the opportunity to accomplish their goals in government, or that Democrats have some nefarious plot undergirding their motives for dealing with Kavanaugh’s nomination and not simply the examination of his abhorrent jurisprudence and the credible allegations of sexual misconduct against him should be an exaggeration too far for anyone who’s paying attention. It’s an insult to all of us, pure and simple.