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Editorial: Apply the Lindsey Graham Rule across the board to Trump's former critics

Editorial: Apply the Lindsey Graham Rule across the board to Trump's former critics

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Graham: 'use my words against me.'

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during a Sept. 30 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill.

(Ken Cedeno/Pool via AP)

The Lindsey Graham Rule is a good one. Early in 2016, when the death of Justice Antonin Scalia left a vacancy for then-President Barack Obama to fill, Republican Sen. Graham declared without caveats that the Senate should not consider Supreme Court nominees during election years. “I want you to use my words against me,” the South Carolina senator stated, if the same circumstances arose at the end of the first term of Obama’s successor.

The Graham Rule is so on-target, it should be applied across the board whenever Washington politicians take a bold stand, then blatantly walk it back after political reality sets in. Words matter. Either politicians mean what they say, or they are liars and hypocrites, especially where President Donald Trump is concerned.

Take, for example, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. In 2016, he couldn’t have been clearer about how much he detested then-candidate Trump: “This man is a pathological liar. … He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth, and in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.” Cruz labeled Trump “utterly amoral” and a “serial philanderer.”

Yet now he’s one of Trump’s staunchest defenders, along with Graham himself, who stated in early 2016: “I’m not going to try to get into the mind of Donald Trump because I don’t think there’s a whole lot of space there. I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, called Trump “a con artist.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, asked voters if, at some point, they would start asking: “Does the emperor have any clothes? Or does the emperor have a brain, frankly?”

Closer to home, Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, withdrew her 2016 endorsement of Trump after a 2005 recording surfaced in which Trump made vulgar comments about sexually abusing women. “As a strong and vocal advocate for victims of sex trafficking and assault, I must be true to those survivors and myself and condemn the predatory and reprehensible comments of Donald Trump,” Wagner said. Weeks later, she effectively told victims of sexual assault to take a hike as she jumped back on the Trump bandwagon.

Trump has brought the nation to a dangerous precipice. The economy is teetering, the health care of millions is threatened, racial tensions are boiling over, and democracy itself is in severe danger. Those who spoke out boldly and prophetically about the dangers Trump posed are now his conveniently forgetful cheerleaders.

Apply the Graham Rule: Use their words against them and their party since they can’t be trusted to take — and hold — a principled stand. In their own words, Trump’s a con artist, brainless, utterly amoral person. That’s an assessment voters can take to the polls on Nov. 3.

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