U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., played golf with President Donald Trump again recently.
When he was asked how he could justify hitting the links with someone who regularly calumnizes his long-time friend and colleague, the valiant John McCain, this shallow, wizard of waffling explained his turn of coat in the oddest way.
He said that golfing with Trump is “fun.” “It’s fun?” Really? That is what a two-year old would say when asked why he or she crayoned on the wall.
If, for example, we enjoy playing tennis with a guy who perennially slanders our wives and amigos and their reputations, we should continue to join him swatting the fuzzy ball because it is “fun?”
It conjures inexplicable memories of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has embraced our current president despite the fact that he associated Cruz’s father with the assassination of President Kennedy and spewed despicable insults about Cruz’s wife and her appearance.
In school, we had our own nicknames for this ilk, but we tossed them aside when recess ceased being part of the curriculum.
Let us not confuse the Graham/Cruz version of derriere bussing with an attitude of “forgive and forget” – “glide past the abusive rhetoric.”
This quasi-fealty is nothing more than expedient tribalism. It ain’t Kennedy/Hatch (who himself apparently has now drunk some of the hallucinogenic Kool-Aid); and please do not try to argue that it is Humphrey/Dirksen, either.
These “adversaries” were on opposite sides of the aisle, but their disputes were no more contentious, and at times combative, than Trump’s hostile approach to his pre-nomination competitors. They battled, then reconciled, with neither side paying obsequious homage or launching childish personal attacks, before, during, or after their professional skirmishes.
In contrast, after bitter primary confrontations, our current twosome is unwilling to throw critical stones at Trump, not out of pot-kettle self-awareness or substantive agreement, but … because, and we apologize for our indelicacy, they have none of their own.
Although some individuals will continue to dance (or play golf) with the devil, and sanctify one who dares to make derogatory school yard comments about their loved ones, there are still members of the GOP who presumably have a sense of propriety, and/or outrage, or at least chagrin.
Why can’t they show their faces and be counted? Are they truly content to be represented by the parade of sycophants exemplified by the likes of White House aides Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway; outgoing White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders; U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
They mindlessly follow their leader and extoll his alleged virtues not unlike the manner in which their hero lavishes praise on Putin, Un, bin Salman, et al.
What we are talking about here is principle, personal pride, integrity. These concepts have absolutely nothing to do with political affiliation. They have to do with common decency and human dignity, traits that are in short supply these days.
Tough, hard-nosed disagreement is the lifeblood of our political discourse. No one expects the players to remove the gloves and make excessive nice. What this nation deserves, however, is government leadership that pays more than lip service to civility and honorable debate, particularly when national icons worthy of esteem are included in the colloquy. Disrespecting friends and maligning enemies with infantile attacks cross the proverbial line.
Returning to the pernicious lambasting of McCain’s memory, the phrase “De mortuis nil nisi bonum” resonates – Of the dead say nothing but good. Trump obviously has never read those words; he certainly has never heeded them. We expect no more, or no less. But, isn’t it lamentable that his followers like Lindsay Graham are no better. Indeed, shameful that having “fun” takes precedence over loyalty and moral timber?
Michael J. Cozzillio is a former faculty member at Widener Commonwealth Law School in Susquehanna Twp., Dauphin County. He is currently Of Counsel to Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Cappelli. Craig N. Moore is a criminal defense attorney with The Moore Law Offices.