Trump’s danc­ing mon­keys break bi­par­ti­san hearts

The Maui News - - OPINION - Froma Har­rop is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. She can be reached at fhar­ or fol­low her on Twit­ter @Fro­maHar­rop. FROMA HAR­ROP

Sen. Lindsey Gra­ham’s rep­u­ta­tion as an hon­or­able con­ser­va­tive lies like a ripped-up ba­nana peel at the bot­tom of the ba­boon cage. What hap­pened? What turned the prin­ci­pled voice from South Carolina, re­spected by Repub­li­cans and Democrats alike, into one of Donald Trump’s danc­ing mon­keys?

Dur­ing the 2016 pri­maries, Gra­ham warned about Trump: “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s un­fit for of­fice.”

But two months ago, he used the ex­act same words to say the op­po­site. “What con­cerns me about the Amer­i­can press is this end­less, end­less at­tempt to la­bel the guy as some kind of kook not fit to be pres­i­dent.”

Many Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing some Trump vot­ers, had as­sumed that Repub­li­cans like Gra­ham would con­tain the more de­struc­tive im­pulses of a Pres­i­dent Trump. But no, they’ve upped and gone to join the cir­cus.

One can laugh at Gra­ham’s slob­ber­ing tweets about all things Trump. For in­stance, “Trump In­ter­na­tional Golf Club is a spec­tac­u­lar golf course.” Not at all funny are his ef­forts to dis­man­tle our demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions on be­half of the ring­mas­ter.

“I’ve known Lindsey Gra­ham for many years and sat in the first meet­ing be­tween him and John McCain,” for­mer McCain ad­viser John Weaver tweeted. “Couldn’t be sad­der to­day.”

What hap­pened that day was Gra­ham joined Sen. Chuck Grass­ley in ask­ing the Jus­tice Depart­ment to in­ves­ti­gate whether Christo­pher Steele, the Bri­tish spy who gath­ered in­for­ma­tion un­fa­vor­able to Trump, lied to the FBI about con­tacts with jour­nal­ists.

The move had no log­i­cal pur­pose other than to feed the loopy the­ory that the FBI was con­spir­ing against Trump. The mon­keys are now run­ning a le­gal pro­tec­tion racket for the pres­i­dent. If smear­ing Amer­ica’s most re­spected law en­force­ment agency is the price, they’ll let the na­tion pay it. (Per­haps they can ex­plain why the “bi­ased” FBI is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion.)

The simian cho­rus line in­cludes Sen. Or­rin “You are one heck of a leader” Hatch. The Uta­han played a key role in pass­ing a tax bill that shov­els more of the na­tion’s wealth to the top 1 per­cent and ex­plodes deficits. Af­ter­ward, Hatch called Trump one of the best pres­i­dents “ever.” The Salt Lake Tri­bune was less flat­ter­ing to Hatch, cit­ing him for an “ut­ter lack of in­tegrity.”

As for Gra­ham, the ev­i­dence gath­ers that he was never quite the states­man he once played for the cam­eras. His bill aiming a Kalash­nikov at the Af­ford­able Care Act was a sop to the rich donors. “The fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions will stop” if it’s not passed, he said as an ex­pla­na­tion.

Col­laps­ing poll num­bers for Trump and associated Repub­li­cans sug­gest a rapidly grow­ing dis­plea­sure with their per­for­mance. So what could pos­si­bly be the mo­tive for alarm­ing vot­ers and look­ing clown­ish at the same time?

Some Repub­li­cans may fig­ure that with the po­lit­i­cal winds blow­ing against them, the time may be ripe to do fa­vors for the plu­to­crats in ex­change for cushy lob­by­ing jobs. Hatch just said he’s not run­ning again. Wonder what he has in mind.

Some spec­u­late that when Trump is gone, Gra­ham and his ilk will say that they hung in to en­sure that the coun­try didn’t col­lapse un­der Trumpian chaos. They were a sta­bi­liz­ing in­flu­ence.

If that were the case, they would sim­ply shower Trump with servile adu­la­tion but stop at try­ing to sab­o­tage Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion. To re­cap, the for­mer FBI director is look­ing into pos­si­ble col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia, plus ob­struc­tion of jus­tice.

Some law­mak­ers danc­ing for the or­gan grinder never showed much prom­ise as national lead­ers. One could weep at the fall of those who did, but spare the tears. Bet­ter that we know about them now.

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