Thursday, November 02, 2023

Graham's Myth

Once upon a time, Lindsey Graham told presidential candidate Donald Trump to "go to hell" and that he is "a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot."

Graham later visited Donald Trump at the White House and played golf at the President's golf resort, and came out as an enthusiastic Trump supporter. Otherwise, he didn't "come out" and clearly is still in the Trump loyalist phase of his personal journey

That is absurd. While speaking on Sunday in Sioux City, Iowa and giving a shout-out to Sioux Falls (South Dakota), Trump boasted "about threatening to abandon U.S. allies, even if Russia attacked one of them." He

notably also said he had threatened to withhold U.S. military aid from NATO members unless they paid the bloc more. He said, at one point, he told member state leaders, “We’re not going to protect you any longer.”

“The head of a country stood up, said, ‘Does that mean if Russia attacks my country, you will not be there?’ That’s right, that’s what it means,” Trump said to applause. “I will not protect you.”

“And the money came!”

Trump’s refusal to step in even in the case of a Russian attack is notable considering how much he loves Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. Trump and Putin enjoy a particularly cozy relationship, and Trump has repeatedly praised the Russian president.

Given the fact that Republican support for the war in Ukraine is on the wane, Putin must be overjoyed that the party’s presidential front-runner is actively advocating letting Russia attack whichever countries it wants.

In an early August interview on NewsNation, John Bolton, a national security adviser in the Trump Administration

called the deal with the Taliban that led to the U.S. withdrawal a “disastrous mistake” and said that his dealings with Iran fell short. He also said Trump threatens the U.S. relationship with NATO.

“In a second Trump term, we’d almost certainly withdraw from NATO,” he said.

Obviously, if Donald Trump had won re-election, Vladimir Putin would have been more eager to invade Ukraine. Without support from NATO which President Biden has been able to cobble together, Ukraine would have been overrun swiftly. And Hamas terrorists would have invaded Israel, made easier because Benjamin Netanyahu, once a Trump favorite, and Israel's security forces dropped the ball.

Nonetheless, there is good reason, aside from being compromised by Trump, for Graham to remark

I believe, if Trump were President, none of this would be going on. If he gets to be President in 2025, this would end pretty quickly. Whether you like Trump or not, there was order in the world that's been lost.

There may not have been order in the world when Donald Trump was President. Hamas was eyeing the opportunity to do its imitation of genocide by slaughtering Israelis, and Putin had his eye on Ukraine. But with the misleading nature of hindsight, we believe that there had been order, that the world was topsy-turvy. And Trump, as the prior President, is perfectly situated to exploit this feeling which voters have.

He was, after all, President before Biden was President. In George Orwell's classic Animal Farm, Squealer rhetorically asked ".... it is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back!"

The horror of it all! The animals would be better off if Jones returned but exclaiming, without explanation, "Jones would come back!" creates the assumption that things were worse. When Lindsey Graham asserts "whether you like Trump or not, there was order in the world that's been lost," he's addressing independent-minded voters, who are less ideological than Republicans or Democrats and are vulnerable to an assumption that things were simply better in an earlier time.

It's a deceptively strong argument in the court of public opinion with low-information voters, particularly those less committed to either political party.  It may not be rational but this is a country which once voted for Donald Trump for President and which counts among its Senators a guy who is now a passionate advocate for a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot." 

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This  is a reasonable question. If going to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood to harass and intimidate Jewish people at a synagogue is no...