If Lindsey Graham were a supervillain, his super power would be an ability to radically reshape his views and transform his moral center. Unlike most shape shifters, Graham wouldn’t take on a new physical form; he would undergo a transformation of the soul. The Lindsey Graham of today is nothing like the Lindsey Graham of just a few years ago. He is, truly, a different man. I suspect he’s getting ready to transform yet again.
Look, intransigency is no virtue, but Graham’s ability to mold himself into the image of anyone in power, is honestly remarkable. What motivates such a man? Is it flattery? Favors? Attention? Blackmail? I don’t know, but I find him fascinating. This is a man who basically declared himself John McCain’s BFF in the Senate. He adored McCain! Couldn’t get enough of McCain! Thought McCain was the neatest guy ever! Graham was incensed when Trump called McCain a loser because he was a Prisoner of War in Vietnam. “I like people who weren’t captured,” said then-candidate Bone Spurs. Oh, that made Lindsey Graham hopping mad, but that was before Trump invited Graham to go golfing with him six or seven times a week. That made up for all the insults, I guess.
In 2015, Graham called then-candidate Donald Trump, “a race baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.” In 2020, he’s urging Trump not to concede an election he’s clearly lost. Graham even called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to see if he might possibly find a way to toss out a bunch of legally cast ballots so that Trump could come out on top in the current recount. Fortunately, Raffensperger proved more ethical than Graham. He declined to disenfranchise the voters in his state, even though, as a Republican, he was disappointed by the election results.
In 2016, after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Graham backed evildoer Mitch McConnell in his successful effort to block President Barack Obama’s nominee. It was too soon, they argued, to the next election. The next President must fill the seat. This was fully ridiculous, but Graham went along and promised consistency in his views going forward. If, heaven forbid, he faced the same conundrum in the final year of a Republican administration, he would not support filling the seat before the results of the upcoming election were known. Democrats, he said at the time, “should use my words against me” if he should change his mind. In 2020 he gleefully rammed through the most unqualified, least experienced Supreme Court Justice in modern history, and he did so weeks before the presidential election.
If this were a superhero movie or comic book, I’d enjoy watching Lindsey Graham use his shameless hypocrisy to inspire chaos. Before the final frame or the last page, however, I’d expect him to be soundly defeated. Villains like Graham don’t last long in an ethical world. I don’t know what it says about South Carolina or America that he has prevailed so long in this world. He’s a joke, but a dangerous one.
I predict that as soon as Trump is gone, Graham will reinvent himself again. If Republicans hang on to the Senate majority, he’ll be McConnell’s lap dog. If Republicans lose the Senate, Graham will try to restore his reputation as a cooperative Senator willing to reach across the aisle and work with the Biden administration. After all, he once called Biden “as good a man as God ever created.”
Of course, that was in 2015 and Graham was a completely different person then.
(Finally, a quick thanks to everyone who has reached out to ask about the fate of our cat, who I wrote about in this space a few weeks ago. Jabberwocky is doing great. He still walks with a bit of a limp, but he’s walking. More impressively, he’s able to get on the furniture and climb stairs. I guess cats really do have nine lives.)