I keep trying to understand Lindsey Graham. I could just agree with many who say he is being blackmailed because he is a closeted gay man. I don’t buy that theory, mainly because being openly lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgendered is no longer a barrier to political office. It hasn’t been for years. Some are positing that he has committed some pernicious act and Trump has the goods on him. That makes sense but it is just a theory with no evidence to support it. I could agree with the position that he has hidden financial connections to Russia. I’ve seen a few stories about this but they seem convoluted and indirect. Last month, I hatched my own theory that he was a spy in the house of Trump, gaining his confidence and insider knowledge as a way to thwart Trump’s craziness. I’ve been holding on to that hypothesis but my grasp loosened drastically after watching his screaming fit during the Kavanaugh hearing.
That was calculated political theatre, performed with gusto, and Graham effected a switch in the room with his hyperbolic assault. He gave wind to the GOP sails, and in my mind, gave the flagging Kavanaugh a hit of testosterone to boost his sniggering insolence.
But I still haven’t figured out what is up with Lindsey.
Why would a guy who grew up in the backroom of a diner/bar/poolhall in a podunk South Carolina town give a flip about this arrogant boy born into a golden Maryland suburb to parents of professional weight? It just doesn’t make sense.
Sure I know Lindsey is playing the game. But what happened between his pleading words of two years ago and the character performing that farce last week?
I should probably give up. But I look at Lindsey out of compassion, as a person who squinches their eyes, looks at an old acquaintance and wonders: What the hell happened? I see him in the same tragic light as Richard Nixon during his Frost interviews. So much was possible but for…
What switched off in Lindsey Graham and why?
I wonder about his known losses: the failed presidential run, the passing of John McCain. He’s been a U.S. Senator for 15 years; and before that a member of the House and local government. That’s a long time with no forward movement.
His official Congressional biography is bland. You can read it here, if you wish. Born in Pickens County, S.C., attended the U of South Carolina and got his J.D. at its law school before joining the Air Force as a JAG officer, then the S.C. Air National Guard, then the AF Reserves. In 1995, Graham was elected to the U.S. House, where he was a Floor Manager during the impeachment of President Clinton. Graham won his seat in the U.S. Senate 16 years ago, and will remain there through 2021. And, oh yes, there was that failed run for the presidency in 2016.
Most people are only curious about his sexual identity. Or connect him as an adjunct to Senator John McCain. That is sad. He has authored one book, an autobiography (My Story) as a prelude to his campaign. I cannot even find a place to buy it on Google. All that time in D.C., flying around the world, talking to despots and dealers and presidents and regular folks, and no reflective tomes, just one modest, forgettable bio.
Maybe that’s it. Graham does not want to be forgotten. So he takes a cue from Trump, screams outrageously, condemns the Democrats he once partnered with, rips the veil of collegiality, howls out his resentment – and is rewarded with a Chik-fil-A from Sean Hannity and tweets celebrating his manhood.
While I was doing all my Monday Wondering About Lindsey, I came across a hive of videos from the truly dark web – those areas of town that most sane people avoid. There is a fascination, some call it obsession, with a moment after the funeral of Senator John McCain.
I don’t really understand the Q-Anon madness or its terminology, however it is clear that Graham is perceived as a Red menace and “The Generals” as they are known, are protectors of Donald Trump.
Take a look.
So, this is one of the mildest of slow-motion takes on the Graham-Abedin / Mattis-Kelly thing. These folks are truly divorced from reality. It’s scary. Because there’s no way to reach them. In their cloistered minds, Huma Abedin is an envoy of the Red Queen (Hillary Clinton), and the embrace is a satanic clench of dark souls, and by the way, the exchange of a missive from the Red Queen.
Looking beyond this lunatic-inspired treatment, I see a warm embrace. I recall the funeral, and I remember how out-of-place Graham seemed, looking here and there, bumped from the front row of special guests. In other words, Graham is a man without friends. And as of August 25, a man without his very best friend.
And yet, look at the loving embrace and Graham’s kiss on Huma’s cheek. This is genuine, deep affection. For Graham, it was likely the only pure solace he received in the wake of McCain’s death.
So I continue to revert to my gut sense that Graham is playing a part. He has no true friends among the Republicans. And it could literally be a death knell to align with Democrats. He no more believes in Trump than I trust Brett Kavanaugh.
I trust my gut. I am giving Lindsey Graham a pass. For now.