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Sen. Lindsey Graham Is the Imp Whispering 'War' in President Trump's Ear

Technically he's been yelling it at all of us for years now.

Sen. Lindsay GrahamJeff Malet Photography/NewscomLindsey Graham's sole contribution to the discussion during his failed run for the Republicans' 2016 presidential nomination was a fevered insistence that we need to ramp up our military actions overseas, engaging in more war in more places to fight terrorism and evil. The South Carolina senator's monomania became comic in one debate, when his response to whatever he was asked, regardless of its relevance to the question, was to push for more foreign intervention.

He was soundly rejected—remember, he polled so poorly he never even made it to the "grown-up table" debates—and he then refused to support Donald Trump in the general election. But these facts have not stopped him from whispering "war" in Trump's ear whenever possible.

According to Bob Woodward's book Fear, as recounted over at The Daily Beast, Graham has been taking every opportunity he can as a Trump golfing buddy to encourage the president to take a "more aggressive military posture" overseas. He even told Trump the U.S. should try to encourage China to assassinate the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

That obviously has not happened, but Graham is still playing Gríma Wormtongue, trying to convince Trump to fly with the hawks by appealing to his ego:

"Do you want on your résumé that you allowed Afghanistan to go back into the darkness and the second 9/11 came from the very place the first 9/11 did?" Graham asked the president, rhetorically, in an effort to encourage Trump to step up U.S. troop commitments there.

"Well, how does this end?" Woodward recounts Trump asking. "It never ends," Graham replied, in rhetoric reminiscent of the Trump-maligned neoconservatism of George W. Bush. "It's good versus evil. Good versus evil never ends."

Some people are concerned that Graham is getting more and more of Trump's ear. One unidentified GOP congressional aide told The Daily Beast, "We would be at war with half the world if Lindsey had it his way." But another Trump golfing buddy and failed presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), has been the foreign policy angel on the shoulder opposite Lindsey Graham's devil. The Daily Beast notes that Paul's non-interventionist attitude has kept some of those hawkish impulses at bay.

The result: Our overseas involvements are holding steady in a stagnant status quo. Our troops are stuck in Syria, but we haven't gotten into a full-on war with an attempt to assassinate President Bashar al-Assad.

Mind you, our military interventions themselves have gotten harsher, even if we aren't sending more troops. Our drone strikes are deadlier than ever and likely killing even more innocent people, but we won't know for sure because the Trump administration has apparently stopped bothering to calculate casualties.

In the context of Graham's constant "There are Islamists hiding under the bed with knives!" fearmongering in Trump's ear, perhaps Paul's occasionally awkward attempts to curry Trump's favor—encouraging him to use the junk-science polygraphs to track down leakers, say—makes a little more sense. If libertarians and libertarian-leaning conservatives prefer dialogue and negotiation rather than war against foreign nations, it does make sense to set a good example at home.

Photo Credit: Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom

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  • damikesc||

    So, Graham wants Trump to do something that Trump isn't inclined to do.

    Good to know.

  • ||

    Yeah. So far Sessions whispering war in Trump's ear is preferable to Clinton standing next to Obama and nodding in ascension while he says 'War!'.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    When Lindsey Graham whispers in your ear, he slips in a little tongue.

  • SQRLSY One||

    When Lindsey Graham whispers in the ear of LC1789, his tongue meets no resistance whatsoever, and protrudes right out of the other ear! (If the whispers are related to trade wars and / or illegal humans, at the very least).

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I am a quick head turner.

    You're just jealous because nobody ever want to whisper in those blackholes, you call ears.

  • John||

    A bunch of people who refuse to go on record are claiming Graham is trying to get Trump to do something he doesn't want to do and has shown no inclination of doing. Quite a scoop there Scott.

    Shouldn't you be out suing a bakery or something?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    There are all sorts of people around Trump beating the war drums. Trump has resisted most of the Neo-Con bullshit. He deserves credit for that.

    I wish he would immediately pull out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Niger, Qatar, and Bahrain completely. Withdraw other troops from other areas over the next year.

  • Aloysious||

    Aren't imps tiny?

    Smack him with a heavy book.

  • Conchfritters||

    I was thinking Tyrion Lannister, but then he mentioned Gríma Wormtongue, when the truth is probably closer to Varys - - since both he and Lindsay have no balls.

  • Just Say'n||

    "Oh goodness me, we must kill those Arabs across the sea" Lindsey said in her endearing drawl. "Why's that dude necking with the president?" Asked the Secret Service agent as he observed the dainty Senator whisper sweet nothings into the president's ear. "Ewww...get off me." the President said in disgust as he pushed away little 'ol Lindsey. "Why, Mr. President, I do declare, if you are not willing to raise the body count overseas than I suppose you are no better than your predecessor." She had her hands at her waist as her bustier shown through her white dress shirt. "I can kill a hundred more people than Obama. He's a loser. Just watch me murder without inhibition!" The president roared. His fragile ego was hurt by the southern belle's accusation and he intended to prove her wrong. "Ummm.." Senator Paul murmured as he watched this spectacle unfold. "Obama droned a ton of people overseas. If you want to be better than him, you have to drone less people." The president's nose wrinkled as he struggled to understand this logic. "Kill less?" He asked Senator Paul. "Ah, yeah, of course. Make America Great Again, right? Not, Make the Middle East a burning pile of rubble." Senator Paul argued. "Don't listen to him," Senator Graham countered. "Look at how silly he looks with his unkempt hair." She said with a catty tone in her voice.

  • Conchfritters||

    "Well, how does this end?" Woodward recounts Trump asking. "It never ends," Graham replied.

    What a recruiting strategy - Join the Army to participate in forever war!!!

  • Shirley Knott||

    It's Kissinger's doctoral dissertation — the health of America demands constant overseas conflict.
    There's a rope he belongs at the end of.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Just to throw this out there, if war is overseas then it is far away from our borders. No Russians or Chinese bother us near our homes.

    Not justifying all our actions, most are undeniably stupid and counterproductive, but just throwing that out there.

  • Dillinger||

    overt subversion payback for disclosure of cell number.

  • Vernon Depner||

    the second 9/11 came from the very place the first 9/11 did?

    Saudi Arabia?

  • Dillinger||

    September?

    also he forgets Benghazi.

  • Conchfritters||

    A movie will start the next 9/11?

  • Stilgar||

    With each passing day, Lindsey Graham looks more and more like Christopher Pike

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Except Capt. Pike was decent and likeable.

  • Fats of Fury||

    He reminds me of a gay Mr. Haney peddling his war mongering.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Y'all may call polygraphs junk science but I can promise you that you would all never want to take one if you thought you had to. Who wants that with them? Going on record about your life with some stranger? No thanks:

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Gríma Wormtongue (or more properly the actor who played him) has a daughter who is surprisingly attractive.

    The aged windbag senator doesn't even have that going for him.

  • Eddy||

    "He even told Trump the U.S. should try to encourage China to assassinate the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un."

    That sounds kind of appealing, though I suppose I'm supposed to "just say no" to such an idea.

    In practice, though, let's see how Trump does with his Art-of-the-Dealing with North Korea, it might not work but it would be worth a shot. Oops, wrong choice of word.

  • Eddy||

    She certainly wore a nice outfit when she attended the Oscars.

  • Eddy||

    (Meant as a reply to Inigo Montoya at 9:20 above)

  • Michael Cook||

    Over on the Volokh Conspiracy thread I've been expounding on a long-ago Sec. of State who labored for three years to keep a Democrat president out of a war that was an extremely bad idea. Unfortunately, there were a great many hot heads in the USA calling for us to jump right in, sooner the better. Ultimately, the Dem. President had to give way to the war fever. In only 18 months of involvement, America would lose 103,000 killed, twice the Vietnam toll.

    The president was Woodrow Wilson. The Sec. of State was William Jennings Bryan, a populist who had himself twice been the Democrat candidate for POTUS. In 1896 WJB was only 36 when he was picked to be the Dem nominee against Republican William McKinley. Bryan, a fiery speaker known as "the boy orator of the Platte" had rocketed to national attention with his cross of gold speech. Translated to modern terms, the Free Silver movement WJB headed urged an inflationary money supply. It also meant more jobs for miners in the West and Western states supported Bryan.

    Wilson was a cerebral Easterner. Like WJB, he hated, absolutely dreaded, being dragged into the European mess begun in 1914. But then Wilson started dreaming he could make something good come out of it, which WJB never believed.

    WJB also was a strong Bible believer. He favored women getting the vote because he anticipated gals of the day leaning to the Prohibition of Alcohol and opposing the teaching of Darwinism, which tended to be the case.

  • Michael Cook||

    To the thrust of my thesis, however, if the USA had not come in to tip the balance of a stalemated trench war in April of 1917, a more equitable peace may have been achieved. This would have forestalled the extreme political destabilization of Germany. Nothing would have probably saved Russia from going over the edge at that late date except, perhaps, getting an assassin on the train through Finland that was carrying the human time bomb who had been in exile in Switzerland back to St. Petersburg.

    Domestically, had America never plunged recklessly and with foolish bravado into The Great War would it have changed much about the excesses of the Roaring 20's that proceeded to the market crash and the horrendous depression?

    I contend that heroic pacifism in early1917 might have pushed the misery of the early 1930's back a little bit. Prohibition is often portrayed today as a kind of churchy establishment plot that was sneaked thru when smart citizens weren't looking. No, Prohibition was a mass popular movement strongly concerned with the welfare of women and children. It was passed by many states in the West and South BEFORE the national law.

    Then Hollywood came along and began glamorizing fighter pilots who wore long scarves and drank France dry of wine, cowboy saloons where dusty gun-toters met the most interesting women in town, gangster movies with blazing tommy guns, and Fred and Ginger drinking the fizzy, dancing so elegantly.

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