“You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell. He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn’t represent my party. He doesn’t represents the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for. … He’s the ISIL man of the year.”
—–Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), on CNN’s “New Day” turning Trump’s slogan, “make America great again” against him.
Graham is unelectable as well as un-nominatable, and he knows it, for no fool he. The GOP right wing regards him as a RINO like his pal John McCain, and also more than a little strange (why has he never been married, hmmmmm?); Graham is too Southern, too Senatorial, and too candid to have a chance in the general election either.
Graham is running as a truth-teller on foreign policy, and even that has been hard, since his poll numbers are microscopic and he has been relegated to the kiddie table in all of the debates. So it is true that he has less to risk being direct than the other candidates, but his undiplomatic, uncompromising condemnation of Donald Trump is exactly what the nomination race needs, and as I have written from the beginning, a well-executed, slashing, “Have you no sense of decency?” attack would both bring Trump to earth and enhance the candidacy of its Republican messenger. So far, nobody seems capable of delivering it effectively.
Trump’s latest envelope-pushing, evoking the worst of the U.S.’s domestic World War II bigotry as well as the early stages of Nazi Germany’s anti-Semitism, confines his candidacy to bigots, cowards and fools—admittedly a large constituency but a disqualifying one. The clear path to stopping Trump is making his supporters unwilling to look at themselves in the mirror. Democrats faced a similar challenge in 1968, when George Wallace was speaking before huge crowds.
Graham has neither the popularity, the charisma nor the platform to stop Trump, but he is showing the way. Republicans, Democrats, everyone should be grateful. At this point in the process, both parties have frontrunners who though very different, represent the worst of American politics and political culture.
At least one of the parties has a candidate willing to make it clear how disgusting and dangerous it is to have such a frontrunner. I am still looking for the other party to find even an imperfect messenger.