A Dream Day at The Beach


Senator Lindsey Graham (R.,S.C.) is on summer recess. A consummate professional politician, and war hardened lawyer, Sen. Graham has made a career out of flipping on a dime. His moral calculus has been flexible enough to wiggle and weave, and switch sides if cornered. 

In a dream, I caught a glimpse of him reading on one of his state’s beautiful beaches. He was juggling a weighty 1215 page classic – Leo Tolstoy’s “War & Peace” in one hand, and a yellow highlight marker in the other.

He looked a bit on edge, maybe because this week a federal judge refused to block a subpoena seeking his testimony for a Fulton County, Georgia, Grand Jury probe into efforts by then-President Donald Trump and his potential state Republican “alternate electors” to overturn Georgia’s Biden victory in the 2020 election.

When he hit the water to cool off, his book was just sitting there on a Polo beach blanket.  I couldn’t help but notice the MAGA bookmark – it’s was on page 1133 with these words highlighted: 

“Chance made the situation; genius profited from it”, and a Lindsey’s scribbled notation “IMPORTANT.”

Judging from the heavy highlighting, it seems Lindsey had been carefully rereading a tattered personal copy, and OCD’s on Tolstoy’s Epilogue, pages 1131 to 1136. They’re yellow marker heaven.

Lindsey is obviously looking for some insight how to manage his current predicament in Tolstoy’s literary undressing of Napoleon.

Right there on page 1133, he’s scrawled across the top – “WOW.” 

The second and third paragraph seem to have resonated because there’s a yellow line along the left margin:

“…the old insufficiently large group is destroyed; old customs and traditions are obliterated; step by step a group of a new size is produced, along with new customs and traditions, and that man is prepared who is to stand at the head of the future movement and bear upon himself all the responsibility for what is to be performed…A man without conviction, without customs, without traditions, without a name, not even a (military man or politician), seemingly by the strangest chances, moves among all the parties stirring up (hatreds), and, without attaching himself to any of them, is borne up to a conspicuous place.”

The fourth paragraph is floating in a yellow bath, and in the margin a text box with arrow reads, “This hurts!”

“The ignorance of his associates, the weakness and insignificance of his opponents, the sincerity of his lies, and the brilliant and self-confident limitedness of this man moved him to the head…the reluctance of his adversaries to fight his childish boldness and self-confidence win him…glory…The disgrace he falls into…turns to his advantage. His attempts to change the path he is destined for fail…Several times he is on the brink of destruction and is saved each time in an unexpected way…the very ones who can destroy his glory, do not, for various diplomatic considerations…”

Turning the page, there’s a scribble on page 1134 next to the 1st new paragraph, “TS/SCI/ Mar-a-Lago.”  And on the other margin,“Soooo True!”:

“The ideal of glory and greatness which consists not only in considering that nothing that one does is bad, but in being proud of one’s every crime, ascribing some incomprehensible supernatural meaning to it – that ideal which is to guide this man and the people connected with him, is freely developed…His childishly imprudent, groundless and ignoble (actions)…leave his comrades in trouble…”

In the middle of the same page, again in Lindsey’s hand, “NO PLAN”:

“He has no plan at all; he is afraid of everything…He alone, with his ideal of glory and greatness…with his insane self-adoration, with his boldness in crime, with his sincerity in lying – he alone can justify what is to be performed…”

And on adjoining page 1135, across the top, “HE’S GOING DOWN.”

with a highlighted last paragraph that reads:

“But suddenly, instead of the chances and genius that up to now have led him so consistently through an unbroken series of successes to the appointed role, there appear a countless number of reverse chances….and instead of genius there appears an unexampled stupidity and baseness…”

Lindsey is heading this way. Just time for one more page flip. Page 1136 and 1137.

“…all of his actions are obviously pathetic and vile…deprived of strength and power, exposed in his villainies and perfidies…not only does no one arrest humbug everyone greets with rapture the man they cursed the day before and will curse a month later. The man is needed to justify the last joint act. The act is performed. The last role has been played. The actor is told to undress and wash off his greasepaint and rouge; there is no more need for him…The stage manager, having finished the drama and undressed the actor shows him to us. ‘Look athwart you believed in! Here he is! Do you see now that it was not he but I who Moved you?’”

Lindsey’s smeared notation in permanent black marker,


Mike Magee MD is a Medical Historian and author of CODE BLUE: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex.