Lindsey Graham: The Shifting “Rectitude” of US Male Politicians
Until just now, a Trump loyalist, Lindsey Graham — the political chameleon — changes yet again as a new political season is upon Washington.
January 9, 2021
On January 6th, 2021, in Washington, D.C. in the United States Capitol, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, tried to weasel out of his untenable objection to the Arizona electors — saying he was not really challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Cruz, the eternal schemer
All he was proposing, he said as inocuously as he possibly could, was for the U.S. Congress to set up a commission like the one back in 1876, to investigate and report on whether there had been fraud in the 2020 election.
The rationale behind his move was that Cruz was trying to do Trump’s and his political base’s bidding, while also trying to preserve at least a remnant of credibility with his Senatorial colleagues.
Even so, most of them were all the while secretly rolling their eyes.
As the Texas Senator (and potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024) talked, an angry mob of pro-Trump demonstrators — incited by the current POTUS — were making their way toward that very august venue, the U.S. Capitol.
In his incendiary speech, Trump had promised to walk with them, which, of course he did not. That small army eventually invaded the inner sanctums of the building.
The best that can be said about the performance of the leadership of the Capitol Police was that it proved woefully unprepared for the long-telegraphed dangers posed by an incensed pro-Trump nationalist, racist group of (largely) white people converging on the Congress.
In many ways, this event was more shocking than 9/11. After all, 9/11 was a heinous and completely unexpected act of international terrorism conducted upon the United States.
In sharp contrast, the events of January 6th, 2021, were an attack by some misguided Americans on their own country.
And it was totally predictable — since Trump had asked for large-scale demonstrations in Washington D.C. for weeks to disrupt certification of his successor scheduled for this day.
The Capitol Police’s stunning unpreparedness raises inevitable questions about basic governmental competence in the United States.
Indeed, after 9/11, the entire complex of the U.S. Congress had undergone a very costly renovation — in order to make it terrorism-proof.
Apparently, mobs just walking in, armed with sticks, were not among the general safety scenarios considered at the time.
Bad black lives vs. noble red lives: Seriously?
What is especially grating is the contrast to the rows and rows of heavily armed police officers lined up in riot gear like a Martian military force at the feet of the Lincoln Memorial on June 2, 2020, prior to a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
The racism implied in the two different security approaches is unbearable. The supposition is that when protesters in support of “black lives” are assembling, riot gear is in order. But when “red lives” do the same, they are considered harmless — because of their whiteness.
“But where are the police?” texted my friend in Paris. Good question.
Earlier in her professional career, seconded to Washington, she had worked in the U.S. Capitol — in the very offices of the Senate Parliamentarian now ransacked by the mob.
The carelessness or unpreparedness of the security forces left her speechless.
A German friend of mine reminded me of what he had once asked his mother a long time ago as a child: ”Why did nobody call the police, when the Nazis came?”
His mother gently answered the little boy: “Well, there were no police.”
True, and false, of course. There were police when the Nazis came, but they were intimidated by them — if they weren’t already in cahoots with them.
Back to business
Hours after the mob invasion and ransacking of the Capitol, the “people’s business” (i.e., the parliamentary session to affirm Joe Biden having been dutifully elected President of the United States) eventually resumed.
That was the moment when Senator Lindsey Graham, the senior U.S. Senator from South Carolina and for a few more days Chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, took the floor.
Graham finally rises
Graham explained that the 1876 Commission mentioned earlier by his fellow Republican Senator Cruz had the task of deciding an election in which South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida each had brought forth two slates of electors, one for each of the presidential candidates.
Graham rightly explained that the principal goal of the three southern states (South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana), who presented two slates of electors in 1876, was to hold the country hostage in order to end Reconstruction.
This was the period in U.S. history when the Union army occupied the defeated South, i.e., the former Confederacy, which the federal government called Reconstruction.
Proposing another dirty deal
After a long and complicated process in 1877, a compromise was reached that elected Rutherford B. Hayes president — and ensured the withdrawal of federal troops from the South and the end of Reconstruction.
That deal having been struck, decades of oppression of black people through Jim Crow and voter suppression laws (the latter go on to this very day) were to follow.
A hole between 1870 and 2021
Reconstruction of the South had made possible the appointment of the first black Senator in Congress, Hiram Rhodes Revels, who was seated on February 25, 1870 as a Senator from Mississippi. He was the first African American to serve in the history of the U.S. Congress — much to the dismay of Southern whites.
To appreciate the long racial arcs in U.S. election politics, consider that the newly elected Senator from Georgia, Raphael Warnock, until now the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church (where Martin Luther King had preached) is actually the first black Senator elected from Georgia.
That’s quite an arc — between 1870 and 2021!
Graham: Pretending to be principled
In his remarks on the evening of January 6, Senator Graham went on to defend the “right” of the objectors to object to the slate of Electors from the State of Arizona.
But lacking votes, he said that the effort would not go anywhere, so he was “out” and would vote against challenging the electors.
Still sucking up to Trump
While this sounded at least remotely principled, although more likely pragmatic, Lindsey Graham was not finished. In three short comments, he laid bare his chameleon character.
First, in order to ingratiate himself to the still ruling, tyrannical if not seditious U.S. President, he stated: “Trump and I have had a hell of a journey! I hate for it to end this way.”
Remember John McCain?
Graham is the same man who until the death of the principled John McCain in 2018 had been his best friend.
Graham even pledged not to vote for Donald Trump in 2016 and said back then:
“I don’t believe that Donald Trump has the temperament and judgment to be commander in chief. I think Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone and I’m not going with him.”
Graham then “honored” — read: disgraced — McCain’s memory by coddling up to Donald Trump, McCain’s nemesis, after McCain had exited this life.
Graham even said that Trump had been “a consequential President” — whatever that means!
Actually, most people could agree with that — all meaning something different, but that’s the essence of the work of a chameleon.
Master of suck-up to whoever is in power
Second, Graham pronounced Biden/Harris the winners of the presidential election — not failing to note that he had “traveled the world with Joe Biden.” Evidently, the time had come to coddle up to the new President!
When Graham ran for re-election in 2020, a video ran showing him saying, “Joe Biden is as good a man as God ever created. If you don’t like him, you’ve got some kind of problem.”
True, Joe Biden is a good man — and always was. Consistently, as much as any of us are.
Third, Graham admitted his “enough is enough” was a result of the mob scene that had transpired, in which physical danger to many people — including U.S. Senators — had been a real possibility.
He also said he agreed, perhaps for the first time, with libertarian U.S. Senator Rand Paul: “The mob has done something nobody else could do — to get me and Rand to agree.”
To agree, that is, to dispense with the Trumpian lies about voter fraud and certify the election.
A needy and unstable Trumpian character
As it happens, Graham even saw fit to joke around. He was all smiles on a terrifying day to our republic such as January 6.
Was this the Lindsey Graham who essentially looked like the devil incarnate, his face contorted in an uncontrollable rant against Democrats during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh?
No, that Lindsey Graham apparently had been dutifully buried as Donald Trump indisputably lost reelection.
Lindsey Graham finally did the right thing, but there is no virtue in that when you have no other choice.
Graham and all the other enablers should resign their offices.
Mark Zuckerberg: Graham’s closest twin
All of this would lead one to assume that Lindsey Graham is peerless in pretending to show character and principledness just in time — while having a completely shifty personality devoid of any moral core.
But far from it. To see why, consider Mark Zuckerberg’s latest shifts.
Lindsey Graham only said “enough is enough” of Trump’s lies after a mob scene threatened him and the Congress. He joked about that.
Graham recited the history of 1876 to put the kibosh on Ted Cruz’s sleazy idea of creating a commission to investigate phantom fraud.
Black Lives were deemed more threatening than the Red Lives of pro-Trump supporters, and all hell broke loose in the Capitol.
The newly elected Senator from Georgia Raphael Warnock is the first black Senator ever elected from Georgia.
Graham in 2016: “I think Donald Trump is going to places where very few people have gone and I’m not going with him.”
Graham in 2020: “Trump and I have had a hell of a journey! I hate for it to end this way.”