What are the odds that Lindsey Graham isn't being blackmailed?

Call me crazy, but I can’t think of a reasonable explanation for Graham’s blind defense of Trump other than that Trump has something on him that he’s terrified of getting out. I can’t believe an experienced JAG officer and Senate Committee chair like Graham chooses to take the foolish positions he does in defense of Trump simply because he believes them to be true–he couldn’t have gotten into, much less out of, law school holding some of the beliefs he espouses, so I think he must be being blackmailed. He could easily take a more restrained position, like “No comment” or “We’ll have to see how things develop” instead of coming to Trump’s defense as forcefully as he does. He’s overplaying his role as Trump loyalist, in other words, to my mind, a dead giveaway that there’s something here other than mere loyalty.

Hasn’t there been speculation over the years that Graham is gay? Maybe Trump has some sort of especially salacious proof of that.

He’s made a career out of pandering to people who think that people like him are all perverts out to recruit your children and destroy America, and he’s trying not to get Cawthorned.

It’s possible, but I think what’s more likely is that Graham is simply an exceptionally political creature, and has no problem with saying whatever he thinks his supporters want to hear at that moment.

His political views (and, IMO, his moral compass) are a kite, and he has, more than once, made a statement or taken a stance that is completely at odds with his earlier statements and views, because the winds shifted. In 2015 and 2016, he spoke out about how unfit Trump was…but once it became clear that the Republican base loved Trump, he suddenly couldn’t say enough nice things about Trump.

Yes, I think that’s it. He has zero backbone and will do and say whatever seems politically expedient at that very moment.

This. “Lindsey Graham is willing to say whatever it takes to keep his influential position” is much simpler than “Lindsey Graham is being blackmailed.”

Still, you might think that the moment for doing so has passed. That now it would make more sense to be more tepid in his support.

But I suspect that he learned from his complete pivot on Trump that the base will eat it up, and that he doesn’t have to make the change slowly.

Alternatively, he thinks he got in so deep with defending Trump that pulling back now would sink him, and he’d rather instead go down with the ship.

This is an accurate description of today’s entire Republican party.

Why? Trump is still very much in control of the party and every brainless utterance His Orangeness makes is taken as canonical gospel by the rubes. Graham knows this and thus is happy to keep licking Trump’s boots as long as it benefits him.

As noted, the entire Republican party discovered this ca. 2016.

This is true. Witness Liz Cheney.

Largely, yes, though I think that Graham is a particularly brazen and unashamed example of it.

Shit, Graham himself has multiple times come out broadly saying that he is a political creature, and says whatever is expedient. IIRC, this was in response to McCain passing and one of the Three Amigos then doing a 180. Too lazy to look it up since Lindsay ain’t worth a bucket of warm spit

Turn it on it’s side and it’s a propeller.

However, as a propeller, it only moves the ‘ship of state’ starboard.

In other words… A Republican.

Possible source of insight: NPR listeners might have recently heard an interview with Tim Miller, Republican political strategist and author of “Why We Did It: A Travelogue From the Republican Road to Hell.” The book purports to explain why seemingly reasonable people, conservative perhaps but not insane, ended up defending Trump.

The author, for example, was a closeted gay man (he’s out and proud now) who actually advised people like John McCain NOT to express progressive views toward gay marriage - despite being gay himself.

The interview was great, so I bought the book. I’m only about 10-15% of the way in, and I must sadly report that it is too breezy and solipsistic for my tastes. I’ll keep reading, maybe it will improve.

Anyway, as far as I can tell, his overall premise for why sane Republicans got sucked into the Trump machine is because that seemed like the best way to hold on to the glamor of being in the politically “in” crowd. Without having gotten further into the book, I can’t offer more than that. I will say, I DON’T think blackmail is one of the reasons he’s going to give for “why [they] did it.”

Not 100% sure I recommend the book, but if you really want to read an insider’s view, it might be worth a try.

  1. As other posters have indicated, Lindsey Graham is hardly alone in being an experienced, well-educated senior Republican official who forcefully supports Trump even though he should know better. Are all these Republicans being blackmailed?

  2. If American politicians are successfully being blackmailed into toeing a particular political line, then we should be able to cite examples of this in recent history (given the difficulty of keeping political secrets in the long term). Can you think of examples of this happening?

I can speculate that Trump is probably being blackmailed by Putin, and he seems to think of Putin as a master worthy of emulation.

IMHO the appropriate comparisons are to guys like Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, Ben Sasse, John Thune, and other long serving senate Republicans. Compared to those guys it’s obvious Graham is a more vocal in his support or Trump.

That’s why I single him out. He goes out of his way to express himself forcefully making particularly stupid defenses of Trump’s most obviously wretched judgment. The point almost seems to be “How can I make the biggest possible fool of myself this time?”

I don’t think he’s being blackmailed about any sexual preferences he might have. It isn’t like many people think he has simply been waiting for the right woman. He knows what the base in his state want to hear and it sure isn’t anyone standing up to Donald. I think in his heart he knows that Donnie is a threat to the human race but he also knows that if he jumps off the ship he drowns. There are dozens of people in his party who would primary him in a heartbeat if he doesn’t toe the line and toe the line he does with gusto. Not because he wants to, but because he has to.