Thursday, September 27, 2018

Lindsey Graham, Lou Gosset Jr., and Saddam Hussein

Anyone remember the movie Diggstown?

Early 90s movie about boxing, gambling, and con jobs. Ring a bell?

Probably not, unfortunately. It’s a movie that’s certainly faded into obscurity. That said, Amazon prime has it for free, so maybe you should go watch it after you’re done reading this. Lou Gossett Junior, James Woods, and Heather Graham could probably all use the residuals.

Anyway, I was reminded of if this afternoon when I was watching Lindsey Graham’s performance during the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing that went down today. Lindsay came out swinging, for sure. Full of outrage and vigor, he weighed in on the whole spectacle writ large. 

It’s part of a larger pattern that he’s been establishing lately – kowtowing to the very same Donald Trump that he once referred to as a disaster for the Republican Party. When, exactly, did Lindsey change his tune? People who watch the sort of thing have pointed to March 27, 2017. After a years of animosity towards the current administration he suddenly flipped his narrative, and became one of its most stalwart supporters. This extended all the way to a postmortem sellout of John McCain, securing Trump family access to a decidedly no-trump funeral, and eulogizing McCain into an imaginary world where he would find Trump to be anything other than the distasteful human being that he is.

But today at the Kavanaugh hearing was something else. Something convinced Sen. Graham to go out there really sell it. Sell the drama, the outrage, the indignation. Sell the passion and the fury.

And it reminded me of the movie Diggstown.

Not the whole movie, just one part.

See, James Woods plays a con man who lays down a massive bet with a crooked local businessman that his guy Palmer (Lou Gosset Jr.) can beat any ten men from that town in just one day. I’m not going to spoil the movie for you, but during the fifth fight of the night Palmer goes up against Hambone Busby (played magnificently by Duane Davis). Palmer’s the better fighter by far, but what he doesn’t know is that just before stepping into the ring, Hambone was told by the villain that his brother’s life is riding on the outcome of the match. Palmer isn’t expecting the passion and the fury that Hambone brings into the ring. Hambone steps in and gives it everything he’s got, fighting like a man possessed. Fighting like there’s so much more on the line for him personally than anyone else can really understand.

Like Lindsey in the hearings today.

Like there’s going to be some personal consequence that, no matter the stakes of the larger drama, are so deeply tied to his very core – the very essence of who he is – that he needs to not just fight it but to be SEEN fighting it.

Like something intimately bad would happen if he didn’t show that he was fighting with every fiber of his being.

It doesn’t work. Fear didn’t help the Iraqi athletes win. It didn’t secure Hambone’s victory and his brother’s survival. And it’s not going to help Lindsey either.

Sure, there’s a good chance that Kavanaugh might get the SCOTUS seat next week. And that’ll keep Lindsey’s situation – whatever it is – safe just a little longer. But they’re going to need him to step into the ring for them again. They’re going to need his faux passion and outrage again soon. And if it doesn’t work, they’re going to blame him for not trying hard enough.

And then we’re going to have to see what he sold his soul to protect.

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