Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson rolled, sashayed into Washington yesterday, trying to sell lawmakers on a new world war. So, naturally, as we told you last night, we invited him on the show. Boris Johnson is a famously articulate man. He’s the kind of guy who can, quote Aeschylus from memory in a dinner toast and still make you laugh. So, we figured he was perfect. If there is one person on Earth who might plausibly explain how a war between nuclear armed Western powers could benefit anyone but China, that man would be Boris Johnson.
So, we made the offer, and Johnson said he was interested in coming on, but then, a few hours before airtime, his publicist called to say that Boris Johnson wasn’t coming. That meant that Boris Johnson, reputed to be the smartest leader of any English-speaking country in the world, did not want to publicly defend his position on Ukraine. He was afraid to take questions about it. We found that disappointing, not just because we had assumed Johnson was more impressive than that, but mostly because it is a subject that badly needs to be debated and soon.
Millions would die in the war that Boris Johnson is promoting. The public has a right to know: why are we doing this? Before it starts and as you can probably tell, it looks like it’s starting very soon. So, that was our experience with Boris Johnson yesterday. Given all that, we were shocked, actually shocked, this afternoon to see Johnson show up at a neocon think tank called the Atlantic Council and say this.
BORIS JOHNSON: I’ve been amazed and horrified by how many people are frightened of a guy called Tucker Carlson. Has anybody heard of Tucker Carlson? What is it with this guy? All these wonderful Republicans seem somehow intimidated by his perspective.
BORIS JOHNSON: THE WEST MUST GIVE UKRAINE ALL THEY NEED ‘AS FAST AS POSSIBLE’
All these cowards in Washington are afraid of this show, Boris Johnson said derisively. Yet somehow, he never mentioned that he is one of them. Again, we had just invited Johnson on this show hours before he said that. It was remarkable and remarkably dishonest. We knew that Johnson himself was a coward. We watched during COVID as he transitioned into a terrified old woman, but we had no idea he was also a liar. We should have known. There is no popular support in this country or in any country in Europe for what Boris Johnson is now pushing. The overwhelming majority of people understand that a third world war would mean the destruction of the West. They don’t want that. Why would they want that? They live here.
Only the Chinese government wants that and yet, despite that total lack of popular support, it looks like as of tonight, we’re going to have that war anyway and that war will be waged. Connoisseurs of irony will be delighted to know in the name of “democracy,” we’re going to have a war for democracy that nobody voted for or wants. Shouldn’t we have a popular referendum on the war for democracy? No, it’s almost hilarious, really but it’s sad too, and you’ve got to wonder how it happened.
A year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we are much farther from a negotiated settlement and much, much closer to a nuclear conflict. How? Well, that happened because of lying. Dishonesty made it possible. Consider the amazing case of Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Graham is the most aggressively liberal Republicans in the U.S. Senate. On the two issues that define our moment, immigration and foreign policy, Lindsey Graham is strongly on Joe Biden’s side. Lindsey Graham believes that Ukraine’s borders are much more important than our own borders. Here he is last month demanding that American taxpayers who were themselves being invaded, even as Lindsey Graham was speaking, that American taxpayers must send M-1 Abrams tanks to Zelenskyy and his wife. Watch.
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LINDSEY GRAHAM: We’re almost in World War One type battle conditions in the East. It’s impossible, in my view, to dislodge the Russians by the Ukrainians unless they have tanks. We also believe that longer range rockets will help stop the counteroffensive that is building in the east. The goal is to dislodge the Russians from Ukraine by helping the Ukrainian military in that endeavor, give them the weapons they need to beat the Russians on the battlefield.
So, there he is, standing with fake war hero Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who may be almost as liberal as Lindsey Graham. It wasn’t an accident, wasn’t an impromptu press conference. It was part of a strategy and not long after that, Joe Biden indeed dutifully sent the tanks. Now, Lindsey Graham is demanding that the Pentagon send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. Arming the Ukrainian military with F-16s would mean direct American involvement in a war against nuclear armed Russia. From there, it is a direct and possibly very short line to a nuclear exchange. It is lunacy. True lunacy, but it’s also Lindsey Graham’s stated position. He’s an utterly committed neocon. Neocon politics are what he cares about to the exclusion of everything else. He has no children. He’s not worried about the future, but you knew that, of course.
Here’s the weird and revealing part and the reason we’re telling you all of this. Lindsey Graham is the most flamboyant neocon in the Senate, but he is also simultaneously a passionate Donald Trump supporter. In fact, Lindsey Graham is Donald Trump’s number one booster in the United States Senate. Well, that’s bizarre. Whatever else he may be, Donald Trump is not a neocon. The neocons hate Donald Trump. They run from him as the devil hates holy water. Trump famously ran against the neocons and then he mocked the neocons and then he tried to fix the destruction they had wrought on America’s foreign policy. He was the first Republican ever to criticize the Iraq war in the debate. Remember where? South Carolina, and he won because of it.
I JUST GOT BACK FROM UKRAINE. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE ITS PEOPLE’S DETERMINATION TO DEFEAT RUSSIA
Then he criticized NATO. No one criticizes Nato. Trump criticizes NATO. NATO is Donald Trump’s obsession. He’s talked about NATO for ten years. Why are we funding NATO? NATO also happens to be Joe Biden and Lindsey Graham’s instrument in the war against Russia in Ukraine. That’s the opposite of Trump’s position and by the way, that position has not changed. Just today, Donald Trump released two videos on Truth Social, his social media app. One video was called “Why the Russia Ukraine War Never Would Have Happened Under President Trump” and of course that’s true. It wouldn’t have and the other video was entitled “How to Restore Peace Through Strength.”
So, that’s Trump’s position. Those are from today. Donald Trump represents everything that Lindsey Graham despises. In fact, to the point, you’d think Graham would denounce him as a tool of Putin, as he has so often denounced others who disagree with him. You’re a tool of Putin, but no, Lindsey Graham is not doing that. He’s doing the opposite. Lindsey Graham is literally campaigning with Donald Trump for president. Here was Lindsey Graham at a rally on Saturday.
LINDSEY GRAHAM: How many times have you heard, “We like Trump policies, but we want somebody new.” There are no Trump policies without Donald Trump. I was there. We live in a dangerous world right now. The good news for the Republican Party, there are many talented people for years to come, but there is only one Donald Trump.
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There is only one Donald Trump. May his name live forever. So, Lindsey Graham isn’t just a booster supporter. He’s a fanboy. Mr. Trump, will you sign my T-shirt and if he felt that way, it would be fine and people feel that way. It’s ok. We like Donald Trump, but here’s the creepy thing. Lindsey Graham is not a Donald Trump fanboy. Lindsey Graham is an enemy of Donald Trump and we know that not from what he says. Ignore what they say. Watch what they do, always. This is the same Lindsey Graham who spent four years when Trump was president trying to undermine Donald Trump’s biggest priorities on the biggest issues immigration and foreign policy.
At one point, Lindsey Graham said Trump’s border wall wasn’t real. It was a metaphor for border security. Oh a metaphorical wall. He didn’t want Trump to build an actual wall to prevent actual people from invading an actual country. He wanted a metaphor. OK. How’d that work? 7 million people later, not very well. Metaphors don’t secure your country and then on foreign policy, Graham became apoplectic when Trump said he wanted to withdraw troops from Syria. He called that decision “a big win for ISIS” as if Trump was on the side of ISIS, as if Trump was supporting snuff videos. Right.
So, you know who they are inside by the nature of their attacks. Are the attacks fair? Or are they ridiculous slanders on your character? Low people launch low attacks and then at the height of the COVID pandemic, Lindsey Graham promoted sending billions to Pakistan—not to Baltimore — to Pakistan, because we need to help women open up bank accounts in a country where “life is pretty tough.”
Oh, like it wasn’t pretty tough here. Then Graham tried to sneak in an expansion of the EB5 visa program into a pandemic aid bill. Now, what is the EB5 visa program? Well, that’s the program that gives green cards to rich foreigners who promise to invest money here. Half of those visa recipients come from China. So, when Americans were losing their jobs thanks to a virus that came from China, possibly on purpose, Lindsey Graham was dutifully serving the interests of the Chinese ruling class.
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So, whatever else you say about Lindsey Graham, he is the walking embodiment of neoliberalism. Ignore your own people, your own children, your own drug addicts living on the streets, your own dying middle class, in favor of some theoretical act of virtue in a place you know nothing about. I’m a good person because I’ve helped people I’ve never met, even as my own people die. That is neoliberalism. That is Lindsey Graham and yet and here’s where your head starts to spin, this same man is also campaigning on behalf of the America first candidate, Donald Trump. What! Shouldn’t Lindsey Graham be campaigning for people he agrees with, like Mike Pompeo or Nikki Haley? You’d think so, but he was at a Trump rally at exactly the moment that Trump is fighting everything that Lindsey Graham is supporting. Literally Just today, Trump condemned Joe Biden for sending those M-1 tanks to Ukraine.
DONALD TRUMP: Joe Biden’s weakness and incompetence has brought us to the brink of nuclear war and now Biden is doing what he said ten months ago would lead to World War Three. He is sending in American tanks. It’s far past the time for all parties involved to pursue a peaceful end to the war in Ukraine before this already horrific catastrophe spirals out of control and ends up leading, indeed, to World War three and this would be a war like no other war, because this would be a nuclear war.
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Right. So, Biden is sending in American tanks, Trump said. Well, yes, Biden is doing that and he’s doing it because Lindsey Graham and a whole lot of other Republicans in Washington, but most prominently Lindsey Graham, gave Biden the cover he needed to do that. So, again, for the fifth time, what the hell is this? Why is Lindsey Graham on stage with a man he disagrees with on everything and apparently doesn’t even like? Simple: Lindsey Graham believes that Trump may get the Republican nomination and he is trying to control Donald Trump through flattery. Not through argument or with facts and reason, as you do with adults, but with false praise.
These are the politics of the late Ottoman court, transplanted to Washington. Tell the ruler what he wants to hear so that you are free to subvert what the ruler wants. There is nothing uglier or more demeaning to all involved or, by the way, less democratic. There’s nothing more sinister than a flatterer. If you have a choice between a man who wants to punch you in the face or a man who’s willing to tell you a lie and claim you’re great, choose the guy with a cocked fist every time because you are less likely to get hurt.