If you were browsing Twitter on Friday, you may have noticed that #LindsayGrahamHasCOVID was trending.
But you’d be wrong to assume that means we know anything definitively about the Republican senator’s health status as it pertains to coronavirus. The hashtag itself was prompted by the fact that earlier that day, Graham outright refused to undergo a COVID-19 test ahead of his scheduled in-person debate with Jamie Harrison, his challenger for the South Carolina Senate seat he holds.
Graham’s strange refusal to participate in a simple measure to assure people’s safety and well-being, in the midst of a deadly pandemic that has sickened and hospitalized scores of Trump-adjacent Republicans, came after Harrison pointed out on Thursday that himself, the debate moderators, and panelists had all agreed to get tested and asked that Graham do the same.
“If Sen. Graham will not take a coronavirus test, I cannot responsibly debate in person tomorrow night and allow politics to put my family, my campaign staff, Sen. Graham’s staff, and members of the media at unnecessary risk,” the statement said.
Graham rejected that request, saying that he has previously tested negative and will abide by the already agreed-upon safety rules.
“Whether Mr. Harrison attends tomorrow’s debate is his decision, not mine. I will be there,” Graham said in a statement.
Graham also took to Twitter to try some reverse psychology by claiming that Harrison was somehow being elitist for expecting him to adhere to the same health measures everyone else in the debate had already agreed to.
“Mr. Harrison is demanding special treatment,” Graham tweeted. “Other than Mr. Harrison, is any other South Carolinian demanding every person they come in contact with be tested before they meet?”
“South Carolinians do not appreciate Harrison putting himself above others,” Graham continued, coming off as more than a little suspicious with that strange take on a situation he created by taking a defiant anti-COVID testing stance.
Graham may also still be a little salty that Harrison (very smartly, in my opinion) put up a plexiglass barrier to protect himself when he debated the incumbent senator last week, in the wake of revelations that Rona is running through the Republican party.
Since Graham is a key GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the main theory to come out of his refusal to be tested is that, were he to be the latest Republican publicly diagnosed with coronavirus, it would throw a wrench into the party’s plans to ram through Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court with confirmation hearings in the next few weeks.
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said as much on Friday:
Why won’t Lindsey Graham take a COVID test?
Maybe he is worried he wouldn’t be able to lead an already illegitimate Supreme Court hearing.
It’s the same reckless behavior as Donald Trump.
He must get tested before any hearing can take place.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) October 9, 2020
“It’s the same reckless behavior as Trump,” Schumer said of Graham’s anti-testing stance.
Speaking of Trump, the planned presidential debate between him and Democratic nominee Joe Biden on October 15 is officially off. Unsurprisingly, given Trump’s recent coronavirus diagnosis, the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates said on Friday that it will not have the candidates on stage together next week due to health concerns, reports AP.
Meanwhile, the debate organizers in South Carolina ended up changing the format of the planned forum between Harrison and Graham, instead broadcasting individual interviews with the two candidates in which the moderators asked them questions like how they would address civil unrest in South Carolina.
Here was Graham’s answer:
— Steve Morris (@stevemorris__) October 9, 2020
He also added that he doesn’t believe there is systemic racism, according to a report from the local S.C. station WSPA.
I don’t know what’s more disturbing, the silly smirk on Graham’s face as he laughs at the idea that marginalized populations have anything to fear in America, or the fact that he couldn’t even be bothered to give a legitimate answer to the question outside of his own selfish political ideology (just like he couldn’t be bothered to get a COVID-19 test and even pretend to care about the well-being of others).