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There are plenty of reasons to boo Lindsey Graham off a stage

Let us count the ways.

Analysis | Washington Politics

There are plenty of reasons to boo Senator Lindsey Graham.

The longtime South Carolina Republican was booed so spectacularly by a Donald Trump rally audience in his own home state on Saturday that he had to leave six minutes into his speech. He just couldn’t get a word out in a display that one CNN commentator called “far worse than I ever personally witnessed. In a word, it was a bloodbath.”

It would seem that Graham is a pariah with Trump supporters for his on-again-off-again support of the former president. He was against him before he supported his 2016 campaign (Graham was a short-lived 2016 contender himself), and has been critical of Trump’s taking of classified documents, while defending him on other charges and accusations, including the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol. 

It would be encouraging to hear that Graham, who has represented his state as senator since 2003 and previously as a member of the House from 1995, was excoriated, too, for his unreconstructed voracious appetite for war. That's doubtful, but maybe, just maybe, it's part of the browbeating he got on Saturday. But it is worth revisiting his litany of abuses in this realm anyway.

RS contributor Jack Hunter has done a lot to bring it all together over the years, but here is a taste:

In March 2022, he called for a Julius Caesar killing of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service," Graham tweeted.

More recently during the debt ceiling crisis, he said that holding the defense spending budget to its current $850 billion would be a “gift to China” and suggested any future supplemental Ukraine aid bill could go towards filling in spending gaps.

In March, Graham suggested the U.S. should follow the foreign policy of “Reagan” and shoot down any Russian plane that got near American aircraft in international airspace. “(President Reagan) would start shooting Russian planes down if they were threatening our assets.” Hunter noted why this is not only a stupid idea but a gross historical misnomer. 

But as many have been quick to point out, Graham has never seen a war that he wasn’t in favor of waging.

Also in March, Graham told an interviewer that an Israeli air strike might be the only way to knock out Iran's nuclear program, which would all but commit the U.S. to a war with Iran, too.

In 2013 he bucked members of his own party by supporting a military strike on Syria. “I believe that if we get Syria wrong, within six months — and you can quote me on this— there will be a war between Iran and Israel over their nuclear program,” Graham told an audience at the time.

“It won’t come to America on top of a missile, it’ll come in the belly of a ship in the Charleston or New York harbor,” he added. Two years later  in 2015 he and comrade Sen. John McCain were pushing to send 10,000 troops back into Iraq and another 10,000 into Syria to battle ISIS.

Four years later, Graham said Trump’s failure to hit Iran hard after it downed a U.S. surveillance drone could be interpreted as a “sign of weakness.” 

And who could forget all of the senator’s salivating comments about war with North Korea during the Trump administration? 

Graham said we would be “hurtling toward war” with Pyongyang if we didn’t “stop” their nuclear program. “If we have to go to war to stop this, we will,” he said in November 2017. “And if there’s a war with North Korea, it’ll be because North Korea brought it on itself.”

This wasn’t the first time he said that war in Korea was inevitable. Two months earlier, reportedly recounting a conversation with the president, he said in an interview: “There is a military option: to destroy North Korea’s nuclear program and North Korea itself. He’s not going to allow — President Trump — the ability of this madman (Kim Jong Un) to have a missile that could hit America."

“If there’s going to be a war to stop him, it will be over there,” Graham added. “If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die over here — and he’s told me that to my face.”

When asked for confirmation, White House officials said “all options remain on the table” — but efforts were to continue “maximum diplomatic and economic pressure to convince North Korea to change course.”

Analysts at the time suggested Graham was projecting, and who would be surprised. It is after all, Lindsey Graham, who said this March during the 20th anniversary of the war in Iraq that the decade of bloodshed and continuing costs to Americans and the world was “worth it.”

“Here’s what I would ask people to focus on,” Graham said at the time. “Is the world better off without Saddam Hussein, and are we better off with a democracy replacing him? I’d say yes.”

Graham was booed off a stage this weekend. We’d like to think it was for his warmongering. Likely not. But it is a pleasant thought.

South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham takes the stage during the Trump rally in downtown Pickens, S.C. Saturday, July 1, 2023. He reacts as some in the crowd turns their thumbs down as he speaks to the crowd about his support for Trump.
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