One of Donald Trump’s harshest critics has been South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Unlike Republican senators Corker and Flake who have nothing to lose from criticizing Trump because they aren’t running for re-election, Graham has skin in this game. His scathing assessment of the president’s poor performance has been an unexpected pleasure, rather like finding out it’s free iced tea day at McAlister’s and you honestly had no idea. Yes, it’s just like that.
Alas, Graham’s candor has gone bye-bye as swiftly and suddenly as it appeared. In recent weeks, there has been a seismic thawing of tensions as the two men have taken to finishing each other’s Tweets and taking nature walks together.
And by nature walks, I mean playing golf.
When questioned about this global warming of relations, Graham admitted to “Politico” he is less likely to publicly slam the president now that they’ve made a concerted effort to set aside the time to be rich white guys together. OK, he didn’t say it exactly that way but that was the gist of it.
As Graham put it, when you play golf with someone, “You’re far less likely to take gratuitous shots because you have spent time with them.”
So it’s that easy? Trump can silence his toughest critic from his own political party by taking him out for a few rounds of golf? Just one question, Senator Graham: Is it hard to walk off the course with those 30 pieces of silver weighing down your plaid pants?
Trump is reportedly an excellent golfer. His friends say he loves the game, the camaraderie, the chance to be away from the prying eyes of the press. That’s presumably why, although he criticized Obama for playing golf 23 times during his first 40 weeks in office, Trump has played 60 times in his first 40 weeks.
Or as the new Lindsey Graham might put it: “Yeah, well.”
Precisely because the golf course is one of the few places the president can shut out the press without raising too much of a ruckus, we can only speculate on exactly what goes on when the president asks you to join him at Mar-a-Manafort.
Graham: “This course is beautiful, Mr. President.”
Trump: “Nice words for a man you once called a jackass.”
Graham: “Yes, about that…”
Trump: “It’s OK. I called you an idiot. Remember that?”
Graham: “Yeah, and also how you said I wasn’t as smart as Rick Perry. That one left a mark.”
Trump: “And I made him Energy Secretary!”
(raucous laughter and back-slapping)
Trump: “Yeah, he was all like, “What does an Energy Secretary do Mr. President and I was all like, @#$ percent if I know!”
Graham: “Hey, is that Richard Burr headed this way?”
Trump: “Yeah, I asked him to join us.”
Graham: (sulking) “Oh.”
Trump: “Look, I never said it was just going to be the two of us. You’re still my little Graham cracker.”
Graham: “Nice shot, Mr. President.”
Trump: “I didn’t hit it yet.”
Graham: “Just practicing.”
Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and humor columnist who frequently writes about politics. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.)