Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) probably assumed that if he showed sycophantic loyalty toward Donald Trump, he’d be rewarded for his servility. The South Carolina Republican almost certainly knew that his toadying posture would make him the target of ridicule, especially given the severity of his pre-election condemnations of Trump, but Graham was willing to pay the price because he expected to have the kind of access and influence others lacked.
For his trouble, the GOP senator has very little to show for his efforts. When Trump settled on a disastrous new policy in northern Syria, not only was Graham’s advice ignored, but the White House didn’t even bother to give him a heads-up on the president’s decision.
Graham, not surprisingly, is furious. Trump, as the Associated Press reported, is indifferent to the South Carolinian’s dissatisfaction.
The golf-and-politics alliance between President Donald Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham frayed Wednesday over Syria, with the South Carolina Republican threatening to become the White House’s “worst nightmare” unless more is done to protect Kurdish fighters against Turkish attacks.
Trump, in turn, suggested Graham focus on his job leading the Senate Judiciary Committee and reminded him who’s in a position to threaten whom.
“I am the boss,” Trump said.
Exactly. What Graham may not have fully appreciated is the fact that the president effectively sees him as an employee. The senator, in Trump’s eyes, is the help, and the president expects Graham to follow the boss’ lead.
The relationship is based on loyalty, but as Trump has demonstrated on multiple occasions, he sees loyalty as a one-way street: it’s something he expects to receive, not bestow.
The question now is what the Senate Republican is prepared to do about it.
Graham made plenty of comments yesterday suggesting his disgust for Trump’s decision is sincere.
“With all due respect for the president, I think I’m elected to have a say about our national security,” Graham said. “I will not be quiet. I will do everything I can to help the president get to a good spot, but if we do not leave some residual forces behind to partner with the Kurds, ISIS will come back, it will put our nation at risk, we will have been seen as dishonorable in the eyes of all future allies.”
Graham called Trump’s decision “the biggest mistake of his presidency.”
In an interview with radical televangelist Pat Robertson, Graham added that he could become “President Trump’s worst nightmare.”
We’ll see whether, and how, the senator follows up on such chest-thumping rhetoric, but given his track record over the last 1,000 days, some skepticism is in order.
Indeed, yesterday afternoon also featured Graham urging his Senate Republican colleagues to help him derail the impeachment effort against the president.
Even as Trump publicly belittled Graham, the senator made an effort to shield “the boss” from accountability.