There’s some stiff competition out there, but it’s hard to think of a more loathsome, spineless American politician than Lindsey Graham. His friendship with John McCain gave way to complete sycophantic devotion to Trump, and the extent to which he’s turned full lackey—after calling him a “race-baiting xenophobic bigot” before he was president—will define him as a politician long after he’s left the Senate. With that in mind, it was gratifying to see him get fully and completely owned by Steve Schmidt in a new Rolling Stone profile. For those who may have forgotten, Schmidt is an annoying, faintly goateed never-Trump Republican who’s constantly on cable TV, but not the one who had a humiliating, prostitute-themed meltdown. Regardless of how intolerable he might be on cable news, though, Schmidt—who also ran McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008—absolutely nailed Graham with two separate quotes. Here’s the first, on how Graham abandoned McCain the minute he clashed with Trump:
Steve Schmidt, who ran McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, where Graham was a constant presence on the trail, tells me, “We see more examples of this in film and literature, but there are instances of principled men and women laying down their careers in service of what is right. Clearly, that person will never be Lindsey Graham. With regard to the cruelty and abuse that was directed at John McCain by Trump, I think Lindsey’s flaccidity in defending him says a lot about his character. Nobody wants to be in a bar fight when they go out on Friday night. But when someone walks up and punches your best friend in the face, you’ve got to do something. Lindsey has demonstrated he’s the guy who runs out the door.”
Good as that quote is, it pales in comparison to the poetic, withering beauty of what comes next:
“People try to analyze Lindsey through the prism of the manifest inconsistencies that exist between things that he used to believe and what he’s doing now,” Schmidt says. “The way to understand him is to look at what’s consistent. And essentially what he is in American politics is what, in the aquatic world, would be a pilot fish: a smaller fish that hovers about a larger predator, like a shark, living off of its detritus. That’s Lindsey. And when he swam around the McCain shark, broadly viewed as a virtuous and good shark, Lindsey took on the patina of virtue. But wherever the apex shark is, you find the Lindsey fish hovering about, and Trump’s the newest shark in the sea. Lindsey has a real draw to power — but he’s found it unattainable on his own merits.”
YESSSSSSS. Damn, that’s brutal. I promise I’ll never say or write the following sentence again in my entire life, but after seeing Graham get so thoroughly owned, it’s worth it:
Steve Schmidt, take a bow.