Did Lindsey Graham Call Donald Trump a ‘Kook’ and ‘Not Fit to Lead’ in 2016?
A popular meme purportedly pits the 2016 Graham against the 2019 version of the senator.
On May 1 2019, the Facebook page “The Other 98%” shared the following meme (archived here), contrasting 2016 with 2019 quotes from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and characterizations of President Trump as a “kook” who is “not fit to lead”:
Photographs of Graham at the top right and bottom left were captioned with two separate comments, and bordered at the bottom by a third:
Lindsey Graham, 2016: Trump is “crazy” and a “kook” who is “not fit to be president”
Lindsey Graham, 2017: “What concerns me about the press is this endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook not fit to be president.”
THIS IS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LINDSEY GRAHAM.
“The Other 98%” wasn’t the first to make such a claim. In December 2017, a very popular tweet quoted past and present Graham:
"I think he's a kook. I think he's crazy. I think he's unfit for office."
— Sen. Lindsey Graham on Trump, Feb 2016
"What concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label the guy some kind of kook not fit to be president."
— Sen. Graham, last week
— Thomas E. Ricks (@tomricks1) December 3, 2017
A few days earlier, another tweet contrasted footage of Graham in 2017 and 2016:
Republicans' mind-blowing hypocrisy in their attempt to attack the media, everyone: pic.twitter.com/EKfXQGUeiu
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) November 30, 2017
In February 2016, Graham tweeted:
Donald Trump is not a conservative Republican. He's an opportunist. He's not fit to be President of the United States.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 17, 2016
And a January 2018 video highlighted Graham’s 2016 position:
In November 2017, Vox covered interest in Graham’s apparent about-face (as did The Hill, CNN, and BuzzFeed.) That article noted that Graham was not the only Republican with a dramatically revised stance:
Graham is not alone in this. Many Republicans came out against Trump during the primary election and even the general election, including other senators like Marco Rubio (R-FL) to Ted Cruz (R-TX), who were also Trump’s primary opponents. But they’ve now fallen in line with the man who represents and leads their party on the national stage, seemingly to get Trump on their side so they can at least get some of their policy priorities done. After all, Republicans already got a conservative justice, Neil Gorsuch, on the Supreme Court, and they are potentially days away from passing a sweeping tax overhaul bill.
So we get awkward moments like Graham’s, in which he is attacking the media for doing the exact same thing he did just a bit over a year ago.
The meme about Lindsey Graham’s rhetorical flip-flops represented a political criticism prominent in late 2017, when Graham initially reversed course on Trump with an unfortunately memorable choice of words. At that time, a Deadspin editor tweeted the above video, in which two clips of Graham using the similar verbiage to both castigate and defend Trump were placed side by side.