Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina seems to know something about jokes and their ability to amuse having something to do with proximity to the truth. In a recent dinner in Washington, he roasted Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and referred to the rest of the GOP field as “batch**” crazy. And as the adage goes: Graham’s jokes were funny because they are true…
As the Guardian reported February 26, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), while speaking at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner on Thursday evening, had no problem nailing his Senate colleagues, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, and all his former rivals in the Republican presidential nomination race for the amusement of attendees. The dinner is hosted by Washington newspapers and features various elected officials trying their hand at humor, often in a roast-like manner. (This is not to be confused with the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, which has become a celebrity magnet and often features the president being skewered and reciprocating.)
“If you kill Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you,” Graham told the crowd. Cruz is well known to be in disfavor with many members of the Senate and Congress as a whole. In fact, it appears that Sen. Cruz isn’t well liked at all.
As for Sen. Marco Rubio, to whom he referred to as the “boy wonder,” the southern senator quipped, “I’m not saying he would change his positions, but he would change his positions.” This, of course, was made in reference to Rubio’s infamous waffling on immigration reform.
And then Graham went after the entire Republican field, calling the lot “batsh** crazy.” He recalled how he recently endorsed former Florida governor Jeb Bush for president then watched as he subsequently exited the race following the South Carolina primary. Placing a Trump campaign “Make America Great Again” hat on his head, he said: “I endorse Donald Trump and hope the Graham magic still exists!”
For those who don’t know their history, Sen. Graham and businessman Donald Trump have had moments of contention in the past. Shortly after Trump entered the presidential race, he publicly displayed the senator’s cell phone number, to which Graham took exception, calling Trump a “jacka**” and then making a rebuttal video. A few months later in December, Graham said in a CNN interview that Donald Trump was a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”
The South Carolina senator went on the record as early as August last year to say that it was “better to risk losing the election without Trump” rather than to win it with him as the Republican Party’s nominee. In January, after Ted Cruz began making a strong showing and began polling a strong second to Trump, Graham told reporters at the Washington press conference where he endorsed Jeb Bush for the GOP nomination that: “It’s like being shot or poisoned. What does it really matter?”
Jokes based on known or perceived truths are often cognitively received with an acknowledgement of the implied truth. Sen. Graham’s jokes amused because his audience at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner understood all too well the veracity — or at least the general perception — reflected in the punch lines. And as counterintuitive as it may seem, Lindsey Graham’s jokes might just indicate that electing one of the “batsh** crazy” Republican frontrunners, members of his own political party, would be a joke — a darkly amusing joke — as well.