The pilgrimage of Lindsey Graham
“Enough is enough. Count me out.”
-Sen. Lindsey Graham, Remarks during the Electoral College certification debate, floor of the US Senate
One can now finally reflect upon the trials of those pilgrims, who following an unctuous strategy of reining in a child President, have been retired of that task. Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose 2015 dust-up of Trump’s character or lack thereof has been reinvoked recently, is the poster boy of this class of sycophants. ‘Would you rather not have any adults around ready to stop Trump?’ was Graham’s mealy defense and moral surrender.
Aside from the weekly Oval Office leak and “tell-all” teasers, we don’t have a clear picture of what transpired in the Oval Office and the efforts of the few “adults” there assembled. And we may have little to go on after the shredded document dust has settled. But what we do know is what has been filtered which leads us to another question,
What about this pilgrimage?
Where’s the altar?
If we can identify a “swamp” that is Washington, it might be where our social imagination has foundered these past 4 years. A mandate to govern has been squandered. The business of governing has been relegated to deal-making on the golf links.
What Lindsey Graham couldn’t effect in the Oval Office space — Graham liked to position himself as a Cabinet member ex officio - was presumably attempted at a Trump country club: Graham ‘seen playing golf today with the President,’ became a salve for a fracturing nation.
Like other Trump enablers, Graham defended himself by offering himself in service to an Office that in retrospect had been stolen. No, not that election, this Office. Graham brought a realpolitik Senate to the White House nursery. The rest, ‘as they say,’ devolved to a tweet or two.
Back at the Capitol Graham held forth on Senate Committee dais and in Senate hallway “interviews,” offering his cutesy version of life in politics. Not a career, mind you, but the “flavor of the day.” Graham preferred the survivor role. After all, he was elected, the best realpolitik dodge of them all:
“What would you have me do?… I don’t back Trump and my phone stops ringing.”
On Monday, January 11, Graham accompanied the President on Air Force One, coaching Trump on stopping the Senate Republican abandonment of “the party.” Presumably, the effort to block Trump’s impeachment is the new cause celebre of a Republican attempt to bring in moderates, thwarting the Democrats’ “big tent” party building.
It has been said, “political stratagems lose their efficacy first, then they lose meaning.” What’s particularly damning of Graham’s pilgrimage is the self-hypocrisy of the power hungry: having failed at amassing power, the next best thing is to get near to power. Graham can return to his self-appointed role as Senator “Jokemeister” but whatever legacy Graham can claim is in tatters and will retire Wednesday to Mar-A-Lago and more golf.
Alas, for four years Graham got near “the wrong guy.”