Lindsey Graham just had his turn to – in his case – ask Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson (who’s as or more qualified than anyone who’s ever sat on the SCOTUS) “how many jelly beans are in the big ol’ jar?” Lindsey seemed less interested in questioning a SCOTUS nominee than in putting on a rather lame kabuki performance including a bad “mic drop” walk out. The slimy word salad tumbling from Lindsey’s lie hole wasn’t the point; Lindsey’s actual words never are. It’s the quiver in Lindsey’s voice plus the cornered look in Lindsey’s eyes that tell Lindsey’s story. And Lindsey’s story IS the GOP’s story where Donald Trump is concerned.
Remember how things started between Lindsey & Donald? Lindsey was the Crown Prince of Anti-Trumpers. Lindsey said that if Trump became the GOP’s nominee? “That’s the end of the Republican Party”.
Lindsey also said: “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”
And he said (03/07/2016) – “We should have kicked him out of the party.”
More recently, Lindsey said – in an interview he gave to Axios – “There’s something about Trump… there’s a dark side.”
And then, one day, on the golf links, Lindsey went from thinking Trump was the end of the GOP to insisting Trump WAS the GOP. Hmmmmmm… Now, what do you suppose Trump said that changed Lindsey so completely so suddenly? Was it a philosophical point? Something that showed Lindsey the light about Donald Trump, “The Statesman”? Surely, you jest.
The brilliant Greg Olear sinks a hole in one: “quite suddenly, on 9 October 2017, it all changed. The conversion of Lindsey Graham did not occur on the road to Damascus, like Paul of Tarsus, but on the back nine of the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. And he did not come to Jesus but to the Antichrist.”
Lindsey Graham, Olear intuits (and soooooo correctly, I think) didn’t so much become Trump’s fan that day as Trump’s “hostage”.
The storyteller in me imagines the scene this way: not too, too long after they stepped onto the links for what Lindsey thought would be just a normal round of golf at Trump’s golf course, Trump dropped a bomb and threatened to expose something about Lindsey that Lindsey did not want exposed. And, let’s be clear: whatever it was? It had very little – if anything – to do with Lindsey’s sexual orientation. Lindsey Graham is not now afraid of being outed as anything other than a traitor. But, that day on the golf course? Whatever kompromat Trump presented to Lindsey as stone cold proof that he could destroy Lindsey if Lindsey refused to go along, it worked like magic.
Even skeptics on the left – Greg Olear for instance – gave Lindsey the benefit of the doubt at first: Lindsey was being pragmatic. He was being a good politician, playing an angle. Wrong. An angle – Russia – was playing Lindsey via Trump.
This has always been about treason and nothing but. Let’s remember: we can point to June 25, 2016 as a date when rock solid evidence exists that the Republican hierarchy knew for a fact that 1) Trump was compromised by Vladimir Putin and 2) that meant Trump posed a grave national security threat to America should he win the election. “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” is how current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he entered that meeting of the GOP’s leadership. The only correct response to such an assertion – aside from a genuinely horrified “you’re joking, right, Kevin?” – which did not happen – was “Somebody get the FBI on the phone!” which also did not happen.
Why on earth would the leadership of the Republican Party agree to keep it a secret (“that’s how we know we’re a family” is how then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan put a bow on it) that the man they’re about to nominate to be Leader Of The Free World is a threat to that very Free World? Why would they keep it a secret that Russia – who has a history of trying to undermine us – is trying to undermine us?
Everything that flows from that moment – everything – is tainted by treason. Every evasion, every attempt to obstruct justice, every move to forward Trump’s agenda – since it’s tied to Putin’s agenda – must be seen first and foremost as an act of treason. And, one doesn’t have to know anything about the treason to be swept up in it. One merely has to be part of the larger conspiracy to defraud We The People of our actual choice at the ballot box – a choice to move forward as a diverse and diversifying democracy rather than as a white, authoritarian shithole. The GOP knew exactly who Donald Trump was when they hitched their wagon to him. They knew he was corrupt down to his mitochondria.
The insurrection presents an ongoing problem for the GOP. The Department of Justice – prosecuting it RICO-style are working the crime from the foot soldiers on up. The key moment will be when the DoJ pierces the veil and indicts that first sitting Republican Member of Congress for their role in this deeply treasonous act. That’s “treasonous” before we even get to Russia.
Considering the time, energy – and money – spent the previous five years to make Trump POTUS and then keep him in place, betraying America in public while we all watched – it would beggar belief that Putin would give up on his true master work (putting HIS man in the White House) without a fight. Or without spending a little money. If one single kopek of the insurrection’s funding came from Russia? All of it might as well have come from Russia. It’s now treason on steroids.
Historians will pick over the “why now?” of Putin’s timing. Why did he invade Ukraine now? Whatever the reason, putting Putin so completely on one side of a PR war and everyone else on the other has worked out even more horribly for Putin than the fact that his army has always been a paper, conscript tiger whose only viable battle plan is to commit war crimes. Perhaps if Putin had magically taken Ukraine in two days to cheering crowds of Ukrainians he’d be spared what’s about to happen to him.
But Putin’s fantasy of Ukrainian adoration was never ever within the realm of possibility. This stalemate won’t ever tilt in Putin’s favor. As Russia’s economy collapses in on itself, Putin won’t be able to restock his army. He’ll never get conscripts who believe in Putin’s cause because Putin doesn’t have a cause. The brutality he’s using on Ukraine won’t play well in Russia. At some point, the threat of a mass uprising coupled with extreme unrest amongst those empowered and enriched by Putin will coalesce into a coup attempt.
While only the craziest of the elected Republican crazy openly embrace Putin and his war on Ukraine, the rest of the GOP are deeply nervous about it. Trump can never turn against Putin which means, in reality, neither can they. They pay the thinnest of lip service to calling out Putin for being a monster, but you can hear in their voices – their hearts aren’t in it. Just like you can hear the terror in Lindsey Graham’s voice.
I bet that if Lindsey’s old pal John McCain were to suddenly return from the dead, Lindsey wouldn’t be able to meet his old friend’s eyes – and not because his old friend just rose from the grave. McCain seemed to be the one guy who could keep Lindsey from giving into his dark side – which, really, is Trump’s dark side.
That fear we all hear in Lindsey Graham’s voice these days? It’s got the timbre of dread in it. Lindsey can hear Justice’s footsteps. It used to be he felt secure in the knowledge that Justice could never lay a hand on him. Lindsey’s not so secure any more. And he’s happy to tell everyone – if only they’d listen.