Donald Trump is not a smart person. In fact, he is probably one of the easiest marks out there, particularly in the sword-in-the-back, hand-in-glove, secretive clime that is Washington, D.C. His narcissism is established. Likewise, the way to charm this simpleton is equally well-known. A Trump manipulator can be a North Korean autocrat, a Russian president or a United States Senator. The path is the same: pledge loyalty, kiss his ring, offer persistent flattery and occasionally voice the mildest form of criticism. As long as he believes he owns you, he is susceptible to influence.
This is why my perception of Senator Lindsey Graham is so different from most of my peers and fellow resistors.
I think Lindsey Graham is literally acting as a placebo, a calming effect on crazed Donald, keeping him from going off the deep end. There is no kompromat, though that has become the standard explanation for his oddly warm relations with Trump.
Graham is what we in the South call a Southern gentleman – well-mannered, effete and delicate with his big blue eyes, his baby fine skin and gracious gestures. He has likely withstood accusations of homosexuality throughout his professional life. Whether he is or not makes no difference. Trump considers him a lightweight, someone who poses no threat.
That is exactly the point. Graham has ingratiated himself, using that Southern charm, those twinkling baby blues and noncombative personality. In Donald Trump’s small mind, Lindsey is a loyalist. That standing means that Graham can wield subtle influence, balancing that with just enough praise to keep The Donald content.
If true, Lindsey Graham is a double-agent, a spy in the House of Trump, whispering advice, taking notes, warning others and calming the infantile impulses of the man in the Oval Office.
If true, Lindsey Graham is a character in a kabuki play. Perhaps one of many. The reality of this absurdity is no longer hard to digest. This is an America turned upside down, an Orwellian drama directed by an incompetent little man standing on a stool behind the screen and megaphone.
Two years ago, Lindsey Graham begged America to reject Trump.
I do not believe any nasty secret or reversal of alliance could so drastically change Graham’s character. He is after all, a veteran of the impeachment process, serving in the House in 1999 when it moved on Bill Clinton. Two decades ago, Graham argued that a president can be removed “if this body [Congress] determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role . . . because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
If we look at Graham’s comments today, we see he is encouraging the rule of law and stating reality.
And, this comment reinforces the significance of the Special Counsel, while desiring a national sigh of relief, the mending of division, a path forward. I agree with him in every respect.
Keep playing the game, Senator Graham.