Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic:
Here is another pair of stories, one that will be more familiar to American readers. Let’s begin this one in the 1980s, when a young Lindsey Graham first served with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps—the military legal service—in the U.S. Air Force. During some of that time, Graham was based in what was then West Germany, on the cutting edge of America’s Cold War efforts. Graham, born and raised in a small town in South Carolina, was devoted to the military: After both of his parents died when he was in his 20s, he got himself and his younger sister through college with the help of an ROTC stipend and then an Air Force salary. He stayed in the Reserves for two decades, even while in the Senate, sometimes journeying to Iraq or Afghanistan to serve as a short-term reserve officer. “The Air Force has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” he said in 2015. “It gave me a purpose bigger than myself. It put me in the company of patriots.” Through most of his years in the Senate, Graham, alongside his close friend John McCain, was a spokesperson for a strong military, and for a vision of America as a democratic leader abroad. He also supported a vigorous notion of democracy at home. In his 2014 reelection campaign, he ran as a maverick and a centrist, telling The Atlantic that jousting with the Tea Party was “more fun than any time I’ve been in politics.”
While Graham was doing his tour in West Germany, Mitt Romney became a co-founder and then the president of Bain Capital, a private-equity investment firm. Born in Michigan, Romney worked in Massachusetts during his years at Bain, but he also kept, thanks to his Mormon faith, close ties to Utah. While Graham was a military lawyer, drawing military pay, Romney was acquiring companies, restructuring them, and then selling them. This was a job he excelled at—in 1990, he was asked to run the parent firm, Bain & Company—and in the course of doing so he became very rich. Still, Romney dreamed of a political career, and in 1994 he ran for the Senate in Massachusetts, after changing his political affiliation from independent to Republican. He lost, but in 2002 he ran for governor of Massachusetts as a nonpartisan moderate, and won. In 2007—after a gubernatorial term during which he successfully brought in a form of near-universal health care that became a model for Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act—he staged his first run for president. After losing the 2008 Republican primary, he won the party’s nomination in 2012, and then lost the general election.
Both Graham and Romney had presidential ambitions; Graham staged his own short-lived presidential campaign in 2015 (justified on the grounds that “the world is falling apart”). Both men were loyal members of the Republican Party, skeptical of the party’s radical and conspiratorial fringe. Both men reacted to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump with real anger, and no wonder: In different ways, Trump’s values undermined their own. Graham had dedicated his career to an idea of U.S. leadership around the world—whereas Trump was offering an “America First” doctrine that would turn out to mean “me and my friends first.”