“I think Lindsey Graham is a disgrace, and I think you have one of the worst representatives of any representative in the United States” and “He’s one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen.”- candidate Trump, 2/17/16 (Politico)

It was not surprising to hear Trump say this in 2016. Both Graham and his mentor, Senator John McCain, publicly and privately despised Trump. And for good reason. Trump was (and is) the anti-thesis of everything they believed.

Senator Graham had earlier said about Trump: “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office. I’m a Republican, and he’s not. He’s not a conservative Republican, he’s an opportunist. He’s not fit to be president of the United States.” (2-17-19; Fox’s “America’s Newsroom.”)

Graham also said: “My party has gone batshit crazy.” (2-16-16) when it chose Trump as its nominee. In a tweet, Graham went so far as to say that he voted for third party candidate Evan McMullin rather than Trump in the 2016 election. And, that took courage with South Carolina being one of the most conservative states (10th).

 This stand was consistent with the Lindsey Graham that I admired, the guy who in 1999 took to the floor of the Senate to say about the Clinton impeachment:“Impeachment is not about punishment; impeachment is about cleansing the office.” This version of Senator Graham was the one with lofty principles, the one who put country above party.

However, since then, Senator Graham has become a very vocal and effective apologist for “crazy” Trump, the “kook”. He has even been on television heatedly defending the absolutely indefensible: Trumps treacherous, un-American call to the Ukrainian President and his related unethical activities towards his chief challenger, Biden (supposedly, Lindsey’s close friend).

Therefore, the central question, as posed by MSNBC commentator John Heilemann (5-28-19), is: “what has happened to Lindsey Graham?” And, why has his former “country-over-party credo” (Mike Leibovitch, NYT) gone by the wayside? Is he really the “the saddest story in Washington” as NYT Columnist Frank Bruni terms him?

Joe Scarborough, former GOP conservative Congressman and current MSNBC talking head, has his opinion: “Graham didn’t have the confidence and the assurance in his (SC) voters that he could speak truth to power and still get re-elected in his state.” Is that it? Or is there more?

Per Stephanie Ruhle, also of MSNBC: “It could be that Donald Trump or somebody knows something pretty extreme about Lindsey Graham.”  

I’m an advocate for the LBGTQ community and believe it’s past time for all LBGTQ people to proudly come out of the closet. I understand from knowledgeable DC Republicans there are many LBGT Republicans involved in GOP party politics behind the scenes.

Rumors have been rampant about Graham for decades, allegations he denies: “To the extent that it matters, I’m not gay.” And “Don’t believe anything anybody tells you about my Air Force exploits. I was very heterosexual.”

And, his denials may well be true. However, I’m sure my first cousin, the first publisher of Out Magazine and a retired SVP at the NYT, heard similar statements from the folks he outed.

Trump is a low-life, New York City guy, accustomed to the down and dirty development world.  Pressuring people, ethically or not, is commonplace. His Ukraine fiasco shows he has not changed.

Does Trump have something on the South Carolina Senator, who has never been married, the same way Putin is alleged to have an unsavory tape of Trump with Moscow prostitutes? Who knows? Maybe not. I doubt the people of South Carolina would care; I don’t. 

But one thing is certain- Graham’s devolution and new-found support for Trump have became quite clear. As conservative stalwart Bill Kristol has tweeted: “History will record that @LindseyGrahamSC went out of his way to court favor with Donald Trump at precisely the moment … his enablers needed to hear a message of resistance.” Amen, brother Bill. Amen.

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Image credit: caricature of Senator Lindsey and President Donald is a composite image by LikeTheDew.com using two images created by DonkeyHotey (flickr/CC).

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.