By FROMA HARROP
Sen. Lindsey Graham’s reputation as an honorable conservative lies like a ripped-up banana peel at the bottom of the baboon cage. What happened? What turned the principled voice from South Carolina, respected by Republicans and Democrats alike, into one of Donald Trump’s dancing monkeys?
During the 2016 primaries, Graham warned about Trump: “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”
But two months ago, he used the exact same words to say the opposite. “What concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook not fit to be president.”
Many Americans, including some Trump voters, had assumed that Republicans like Graham would contain the more destructive impulses of a President Trump. But no, they’ve upped and gone to join the circus.
One can laugh at Graham’s slobbering tweets about all things Trump. For instance, “Trump International Golf Club is a spectacular golf course.” Not at all funny are his efforts to dismantle our democratic institutions on behalf of the ringmaster.
“I’ve known Lindsey Graham for many years and sat in the first meeting between him and John McCain,” former McCain adviser John Weaver tweeted. “Couldn’t be sadder today.”
What happened that day was Graham joined Sen. Chuck Grassley in asking the Justice Department to investigate whether Christopher Steele, the British spy who gathered information unfavorable to Trump, lied to the FBI about contacts with journalists.
The move had no logical purpose other than to feed the loopy theory that the FBI was conspiring against Trump. The monkeys are now running a legal protection racket for the president. If smearing America’s most respected law enforcement agency is the price, they’ll let the nation pay it. (Perhaps they can explain why the “biased” FBI is also investigating the Clinton Foundation.)
The simian chorus line includes Sen. Orrin “You are one heck of a leader” Hatch. The Utahan played a key role in passing a tax bill that shovels more of the nation’s wealth to the top 1 percent and explodes deficits. Afterward, Hatch called Trump one of the best presidents “ever.” The Salt Lake Tribune was less flattering to Hatch, citing him for an “utter lack of integrity.”
As for Graham, the evidence gathers that he was never quite the statesman he once played for the cameras. His bill aiming a Kalashnikov at the Affordable Care Act was a sop to the rich donors. “The financial contributions will stop” if it’s not passed, he said as an explanation.
Collapsing poll numbers for Trump and associated Republicans suggest a rapidly growing displeasure with their performance. So what could possibly be the motive for alarming voters and looking clownish at the same time?
Some Republicans may figure that with the political winds blowing against them, the time may be ripe to do favors for the plutocrats in exchange for cushy lobbying jobs. Hatch just said he’s not running again. Wonder what he has in mind.
Some speculate that when Trump is gone, Graham and his ilk will say that they hung in to ensure that the country didn’t collapse under Trumpian chaos. They were a stabilizing influence.
If that were the case, they would simply shower Trump with servile adulation but stop at trying to sabotage Robert Mueller’s investigation. To recap, the former FBI director is looking into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, plus obstruction of justice.
Some lawmakers dancing for the organ grinder never showed much promise as national leaders. One could weep at the fall of those who did, but spare the tears. Better that we know about them now.