Lindsey Graham, the Arlen Specter of the South, has been trying to ingratiate himself with President Trump, his former adversary. By doing so, Graham hopes to achieve his longtime dream of granting amnesty to illegal aliens.
One happy byproduct of the unfortunate “S***thole” controversy is that, in all likelihood, Graham’s friendship with the president is at an end. It’s over not because of that controversy, but because of what led to it. Simply stated, Graham tried to bamboozle Trump.
The deal Graham helped write and then took to Trump lurched to the left in every significant particular. For example, it included litigation land mines for the border wall. It retained the Diversity Lottery under a different name. It provided work permits for the parents of the DACA population.
Trump was bound to explode when he learned the particulars of the Graham-Durbin proposal. It is Graham’s fault the president exploded (though of course the president, not Graham, is responsible for the inappropriate language, whatever its exact nature, he apparently used).
Today during a hearing, Graham peddled Dick Durbin’s claim that, during a phone call with the Illinois Senator just two hours before the ill-fated White House meeting, Trump was pleased with the proposal Durbin outlined to him. In his typical preening manner, Graham kept asking what happened during the intervening two hours and vowing to “get to the bottom” of this.
Here’s what happened: Trump concluded, correctly, that Durbin and Graham were playing him.
We don’t know what Durbin told Trump about the Durbin-Graham proposal during their phone conversation — how he described it and in what detail. Indeed, we have only Durbin’s word that Trump was pleased with whatever it was Durbin described. I don’t think Durbin’s word is worth much, though the president must not have been displeased if he invited the pair to the White House for a discussion.
In any event, it’s no mystery why Trump balked at what Graham and Durbin presented to him at the White House. From his perspective it was a bad deal. Like everything else Graham has ever proposed on the subject, it was long on amnesty and short on preventing future illegal immigration.
Graham and Durbin are said to have been dismayed that, when they met with Trump at the White House, conservatives were there. Durbin and Graham thought (or pretend to have thought) that Trump would give away the store without hearing from Bob Goodlatte, a key player in the House, or Tom Cotton, a key ally in the Senate.
This is what Graham means when he says, ominously, that he wants to “get to the bottom” of what happened between the phone call and the meeting. Something quite nefarious. Trump talked to people with views that differ from Graham’s.
Graham thus gives the game away. He wanted to sneak one past the president. He was not acting in good faith. No wonder Trump exploded.
To be sure, Trump said last Tuesday that he would sign whatever bill the smart people in the room during the televised meeting send him. But he didn’t say he would sign whatever bill Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham concoct. Bob Goodlatte, Tom Cotton, and other steadfast conservatives were also in the room.
For that, we should be grateful.