Dear Senator Graham: Why give Trump a blank check?

A personal reflection on political principles and responsibilities

Published May 21, 2019 4:59AM (EDT)

Lindsey Graham (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
Lindsey Graham (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

This piece originally appeared on The Globalist.

Dear Senator Graham,

I am the retired Army officer who walked down the hall with you as you left the Judiciary Committee hearing last Thursday, in the Russell Senate Office Building.

I said I was impressed by the passion and strength of your remarks defending Congressional oversight during the Clinton impeachment hearings, having recently re-watched them online.

I then asked you what had led you to change your position on this issue so radically. You told me that you still supported Congressional oversight of the executive, but only “when it was appropriate.”

Next, I asked you when you thought that Congressional oversight or investigation was NOT appropriate, but you reached the elevator before you gave me an answer.

Destroying the basic mechanism of our democracy?

Doesn’t our constitution give the U.S. Congress this duty? How can it be inappropriate to assure that foreign powers cannot corrupt our elections and destroy the basic mechanism of our democracy?

Or to ask what the executive branch is doing on this issue, or in this case about the root cause of executive inaction here? As a constitutionalist and conservative, how can you support a massive shift of power, by default and by fiat, to the current president? Is ensuring a partisan advantage worth this price?

All through the eight years of Obama, rightly or wrongly, Congressional Republicans railed against over-reach by the “imperial presidency.” They investigated constantly and aggressively (at least six investigations by House Committees on Benghazi alone).

With a current administration marked by disregard for precedent and the rule of law, and total disregard for truth, is it really inappropriate for Congress to demand some answers and hold some hearings, particularly when our national security is a stake?

If the only voice we hear is our president, repeating self-serving slogans and falsehoods, how can we have effective discussions of ANY laws or policy, for example, on immigration?

Painful parallels

Adolf Hitler said that “propaganda must confine itself to a very few points and repeat itself endlessly.” Unfortunately, that seems to be as effective a strategy today as it was then. A Twitter President today possesses a megaphone which Hitler would have envied.

There are some painful parallels. Hitler blamed Germany’s problems on the Jews and Communists, whereas Mr. Trump blames our problems on immigrants and “globalists.” And Hitler attacked and destroyed the free press, whereas Mr. Trump simply tells us not to believe it.

The halls of the U.S. Senate are a solemn, peaceful and impressive place, befitting what was once perhaps the “world’s greatest deliberative body.”

I thought you were a real defender of that institution. But those halls are increasingly a stage set, where a powerless Senate controlled by Mr. McConnell has failed to pass any meaningful or bipartisan legislation for years.

A stage set where, with your blessing, an authoritarian president is ready to destroy its remaining power for public oversight of executive actions, and to corrupt or attack any other institutions (the FBI, the Justice Department) which stand in his way.

McCain’s shadow

Your old friend Senator McCain, now departed and sorely missed, had a proud principle. He followed his conscience before serving his party. You seem to have made the opposite choice, to the great and increasing peril of the country that I served to protect.

You are a retired reservist. Did you believe as the rest of us in service believed, that duty to country warranted and sometimes required personal sacrifice?

I saw young men die for these values. How can you betray them now? You have a chance to make a difference and defend our freedom, during this dark moment for our country.

How will history to remember you? “He supported Donald Trump until the end, doing what he thought he had to do to get re-elected” or “He had the courage to stand against propaganda, corruption, and despotism, and will always be remembered for it.”



LTC, USA, Retired.

Editor’s Note: The identity of the author is known to us. He asked that his name be withheld, given his prior experience with hate calls and threats.

This article is republished from The Globalist: On a daily basis, we rethink globalization and how the world really hangs together.  Thought-provoking cross-country comparisons and insights from contributors from all continents. Exploring what unites and what divides us in politics and culture. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  And sign up for our highlights email here.

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