The Senate Hamlet

President Trump  and Senator John McCain.
President Trump and Senator John McCain.Jabin Botsfod and Melina Mara/The Washinghton Post

Act 1:

[The steps of the US Capitol. A covey of quails — actually, make that, a group of United States senators, past and present — huddles tightly together, peering out over the fog-shrouded Capitol Grounds.]

Joni Ernst: “This is where you have twice espied the awesome apparition? Why, tis quieter than a fallow Iowa field in winter. Not a single mouse stirs.”

Johnny Isakson: “Over there, in the mist. See, it stalks our way. It is the ghost of the Great McCain, cometh again.”

Lindsey Graham [pretending to peer into the fog]: “Where? I apprehendeth it not.”

Joe Lieberman: “Why there, in front of thy very pupils, the same beloved countenance that so often graced our eyes on the Senate floor. Surely his familiar visage announces itself to you.”


Lindsey Graham: “How time’s tide doth obliterate memory. I scarce remember how his features fell about his face. Or his general aspect. Did his eyes pierce like a hawk or were they as furtive as ferrets? That is, did they recall George Patton or Mike Pence?”

John Kennedy of Louisiana: “Well, I’ll be a chocolate-covered crawdad, it is him.”

Lindsey Graham [shuddering]: “It harrows me with fear and wonder. What doth he want?”

The Ghost of McCain: “The Great Trumpkin, who cowered before combat during his youth while I strode to battle, upsets my beloved widow and dear children with comments that flow like venom from an adder’s mouth. Defend me, my friends, defeeend me.”

Johnny Isakson: “Smarting under the contumelious lash of the Great Trumpkin’s toxic tongue, he wants us, his honored friends, to do what his brave but disembodied spirit can no longer, and attest to his honor. And we must or be not worthy of the name senator, mustn’t we, Mitch?”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Squeak.”


Joni Ernst: “Prithee, I pray upon the patience of my colleagues for unanimous consent to revise and amend my earlier observation that not a single mouse stirs.”

Lindsey Graham: “Are you sure he didn’t say, ‘Unfriend me’? ”

Joe Lieberman: “Unfriend me?”

Susan Collins: “Like on Facebook. Thousands of people forsook me thusly after my speech saying yes, Christine Blasey Ford surely had been sexually assaulted, but she was simply mistaken about who had done it.”

Ben Sasse: “Why would he, our forever friend, want us to shear ourselves from the blessings and benefactions of his Facebook page?”

Lindsey Graham: “Maybe, now that he debates in the Great Senate in the sky, he wants to close down his Facebook page here on this mortal coil.”

Roy Blount: “But must you bereave your friends to close your account?”

Chuck Grassley “My great granddaughter uses the Facebook. I could ask her . . . ”

Rob Portman: “Perhaps he said, ‘lend free.’ He was always concerned that college students were running up too much student debt.”

[The ghost reappears, a frown on its spectral face.]

“My friends, avenge me. Avenge me!”

Johnny Isakson: “Just as I said, he wants us to speak up for his honor, as I did on the Senate floor. I hoped others would follow, though none did. But together, we could pass a bold and blazing resolution defending the memory of our dear friend.”

John Cornyn: “If we did, it would surely provoke the wrath of the Great Trumpkin, who would cast Twitter bolts down upon us of the sort that cost noble Jeff Flake his electoral life.”


John Kennedy: “The Trumpkin is a hard dog to keep on the porch, that’s for damn sure. And he’s got sharp Twitter teeth.”

Johnny Isakson: “But we must speak up or don a coward’s cloak, mustn’t we, Mitch?

Mitch McConnell: “Squeak.”

Lindsey Graham: “Or maybe it was, ‘Stonehenge me.’ ”

Cindy Hyde-Smith: “Stonehenge? We never learned about that back in segregation academy.”

Lindsey Graham: “He could mean, build a miniature replica, like they did in ‘This Is Spinal Tap,’ to put atop his headstone. John loved that movie.”

Chuck Grassley: “That’s one talkie I sure didn’t get. Why did they build their Stonehenge so darn small? Right up there with ‘50 First Dates.’ How can you have 50 first dates with the same girl?”

Marco Rubio: “Verily, this portent is more confounding than the science of global warming itself. One hundred senators working for 100 years on 100 typewriters could never figure it out.”

[The Senators depart.]

Act 2:

[The darkened Senate chamber. A narrow beam of light illuminates the tortured countenance of Lindsey Graham, who stands alone at his desk.]

Lindsey Graham: “To flee or not to flee, that is the question.

Whether tis ignobler to ignore

The slings and arrows of outrageous scorn aimed at your dear colleague

Or to stand firm for him against the waves of derision

And by opposing them, risk ending your Senate career . . .


[The Ghost of John McCain, looking down upon his forlorn friend, shakes his head sadly.]

“Thus the Great Trumpkin does make cowards of them, almost all . . . ”

[The curtain falls]

Scot Lehigh can be reached at lehigh@glob.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeScotLehigh.