LINDSAY GRAHAM WAS ONCE a respectable human being. We know this because we all were, at one time, innocent with wide-eyed wonder, unblemished by a capricious world, and uninjured by the waking slumber of the giants in our midst. Then we grew into adulthood and became part of the problem; inured to inner search, captive to capitalist convenience, and impoverished of genuine wisdom. The best among us—but by no means everyone—have recognized this in themselves and in others, and labor in ways both large and small to ease the suffering in the world. The political class was once an honorable domain for such folk called to work in this way. No longer. Today, it is the domain of Lindsay Graham.
It must be acknowledged at the outset that Lindsay Graham is by no means the worst exemplar of the molting malevolence in Congress. He is neither the smartest nor the dumbest, the most extreme nor the most centrist, the most effective nor the dullest, deadest, doornail. What he is, by this author’s reckoning, is the most craven and duplicitous. Lindsay Graham has become the embodiment of pusillanimous hypocrisy, savvy with an unhealthy affinity for the camera and a scurrilous sound byte knack. Senator Graham will say anything, and do anything, to burnish his brand and further his political career. As we all witnessed during the Ford/Kavanaugh Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, absolutely nothing is off limits. He represents what we have become as a nation—self-absorbed, shameless, and crass.
This was not always so. Graham was once a Judge Advocate General, and was, by all accounts, a good lawyer. He has occasionally seemed more sensible than the chuckleheaded reprobates that surround him in the Republican sewer, and as recently as 2016, he campaigned furiously against the Bobble-headed Slapdick in Chief, once referring to to him, correctly, as a “race-baiting, xenophobic bigot.”
What a difference a funeral makes. The late John McCain was Graham’s political mentor and moral compass, and with his colleague gone to greener pastures, Graham has fallen orifice-first into the slurry. He has long been among the most unprincipled members of the Senate, and aside from a healthy sense of humor, his central character attribute might charitably be described as sycophancy. His policy positions are reliably Republican, and with the exception of a whiff of palatable immigration reform, he can be relied upon to be absolutely wrong about everything. In the final analysis, however—above everything else—Lindsay Graham is a suck-up.
Sucking was on full display on Thursday, as Graham sought to impress an orange-skinned audience of one with a shameless hypocrisy-laced fulmination against the confirmation process and the entire Democratic Party, which it is currently convenient for him to loathe. It must be said that he spoke some truth—the confirmation process has in fact become a three-ring circus with a herd of elephants on display, corralled behind a carpetbagger ringmistress, cowering on hind quarters, and trumpeting as if stung by a pachyderm prod. His fury was nothing if not loud—elephants can manage 112 decibels in a closed room with cameras and microphones—as if volume is equivalent to veracity, and anger is equivalent to angst. In this, his performance was entirely consistent with Judge Kavanaugh’s horn-driven hate, and was reinforced by at least one other elephant in the room, name of Senator John Cornyn. The contrast with the Democrats on the committee could not have been starker.
Of greater import than their boorish opprobrium, however, was the inescapable observation that unlike the aphorism of their redoubtable party mascot, these elephants have memories like sieves. Graham would have us believe that the circus arrived in town unbidden, unexpected, and lacking proper clownish pedigree. In this, he apparently believes that we are all as malleable and myopic as he is. Graham and his fellow circus performers have conveniently forgotten how the proboscidean pontificators abused the Senate filibuster to block presidential appointments, Democratic legislation, and the elective will of the American people throughout the Obama administration. He neglects to mention how the elephants invoked the nuclear option for SCOTUS nominees after the donkeys refused to do so, thus allowing domesticates of dubious character to achieve confirmation without a supermajority. He has forgotten the fact that the turtle-faced bull elephant dispensed with any semblance of political legitimacy when he literally stole away the nomination of Merrick Garland for entirely transparent bull-elephant-shit reasons that cannot withstand the scrutiny of a grade-school calf. Most importantly, he has decided, along with his Pinocchio-trunked compatriots, that the bacchanalian spectacle of cellophane outrage is preferable to the sobriety of Senatorial deliberation. That’s right, people; these liberal carnival barkers are selling snake oil, and Senator Lindsay Graham will NOT FUCKING HAVE IT.
Graham’s is an amnesia of convenience, of course, and while that convenience extends beyond the Judiciary Committee to the whole of the Republican caucus, it does not reach far beyond the big tent. There is nothing convenient about a naked partisan on the Supreme Court. There is nothing serendipitous about anger as an arbiter of adjudication. There is nothing opportune about elephantine bread and circuses, even when the ticket is free.
The ticket, of course, is never free. In ignoring recent political history, in dispensing with Senatorial decorum, and in helping to hamstring procedural due diligence, Lindsay Graham has become the stentorian bellwether for the entire Republican Party. The lesson he bellows is loud, and clear, and the mendacious modus operandi for every Brett Kavanaugh to come: Winning isn’t everything; winning is the only thing. Unfortunately, the price of this particular ticket is the American experiment itself.
In all his shapeshifting political expediency, Senator Lindsay Graham has forgotten the most basic lessons of honor and integrity—lessons that were once the yardsticks of wisdom, and prerequisite to distinguished pubic service:
Reason is not equivalent to recitation.
Excellence is not equivalent to ideology.
Objectivity is not equivalent to intelligence.
Temperament is not equivalent to temper.
It is also possible that, like the nominee drafting in wake of his holier-than-thou hot air, Lindsay Graham never learned them in the first place.