It was a beautiful moment of bipartisan unity when, left and right, American and European, young and old, united to call Lindsey Graham a moron.
The South Carolina senator made headlines Thursday night after appearing on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox. He openly called for Vladimir Putin to be assassinated:
How does this end? Somebody in Russia has to step up to the plate. Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there more successful Col. Stauffenberg in the Russian military? The only way this ends, my friend, is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out! You would be doing your country a great service and the world a great service.
Graham doubled down on his insanely dangerous comments on Twitter right after. Best to put this kind of stupidity in writing, in case there was any confusion.
It’s hard to fault Lindsey for thinking about the possibility of Putin’s assassination. It wasn’t the first time — and it won’t be the last — someone floats this hypothetical. But Graham is not a regular citizen talking ragtime with friends at a dinner party. He is a US senator appearing on a program that is watched by millions.
So while you can’t blame Lindsey Graham for thinking someone should “take this guy out” — you can sure as hell blame him for saying it.
What makes Graham’s comments even more infuriating is the fact that the last thing the Ukraine-Russia crisis needs right now is more hysteria.
Last night, Russian troops fired at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine and a fire broke out. Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter, “If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl! Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!” Thankfully, energy experts quickly debunked this claim. While the situation at Zaporizhzhya NPP was indeed dangerous, the power plant’s reactor, which is inside a thick concrete dome, was not on fire. However, the horse was already out of the barn as the fear-mongering media, including ABC News, took Kuleba’s tweet and ran with it.
This kind of disinformation is rampant. The fog of war tales are all the more reason why America’s elected leaders should be trying to deescalate the Ukraine-Russia crisis and prevent World War Three from breaking out. Instead, war hawks like Lindsey Graham are adding more fuel to the fire.
The senator’s hit on Hannity exposed just how out of touch he is with the American people, not to mention with reality. Encouraging the assassination of a world leader like Vladimir Putin is a massive oversimplification of a complex problem. Who does Graham think will take over once Putin is “taken out”? Regardless of the Russian premier’s current popularity — how does he think Russians would respond to their leader being offed after an inducement from rivals in the West? Does he actually believe this is a solution to this conflict, or is he just trying to stir up more chaos in hopes that the United States eventually intervenes?
Either way, it’s not every day you see Ted Cruz and Chris Hayes on the same side of an argument. Someone wake up Joe Biden from his nap and tell him we’ve found the unity he’s been looking for.
After the uproar, Graham appeared on Fox less than twelve hours later to walk back his comments, telling Brian Kilmeade, “When it comes to Putin, he needs to go to jail.” It’s a start — perhaps Lindsey will reflect a little more the next time he feels the urge to play mafioso and call a hit on someone.
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