Sen Lindsey Graham (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0) and Tennessee state Rep David Byrd (video screenshot)

Back in December, almost as soon as coronavirus vaccines first became available, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) eagerly rolled up his arm for the shot, because he could. And a good thing too, because that means Graham was able to announce on Twitter yesterday that although he tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, he has relatively mild symptoms thanks to the vaccine. Graham pointed out that he's "very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now" and that without the vaccine, "My symptoms would be far worse."

Would it be churlish of us to point out that back in October, Sen. Graham refused to be tested for COVID prior to a scheduled in-person campaign debate with his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison? The debate was cancelled as a result; Graham had complained at the time that Harrison's demand that Graham be tested was somehow insulting to ordinary blue-collar working folks like waitresses who couldn't insist restaurant customers be tested, because that would "shut down the economy."


Days later, Graham chaired confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, insisting it posed no risk to anyone, even though Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who had tested positive for the virus, hadn't completed the recommended 14-day quarantine. But it was OK because the hearing room had plenty of hand sanitizer.

Maybe it would be churlish to remind you of that, too. We're OK with that. Graham now says he will quarantine for 10 days, in compliance with current CDC guidelines. After all, he doesn't have any SCOTUS nominees to ram through for Donald Trump.

And we bet it might also be churlish to point out that, way back in March of 2020, Graham also objected to enhanced federal unemployment benefits for people who lost their jobs during the pandemic, since that might lead to nurses' aides collecting those princely unemployment monies instead of saving lives — which would presume mass layoffs of nursing aides during a pandemic.

What we are saying here is that Lindsey Graham is one odd person inside his head.

Graham said he "started having flu-like symptoms Saturday night" and finally got himself to a doctor yesterday morning, which is a matter of some concern since on Saturday evening, Graham had joined Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) for a cookout party on Manchin's houseboat. CNBC reports that Manchin's Party Barge, the Almost Heaven, was simply packed to the gunwales with members of Congress:

Other senators present at the party included Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Chris Coons, D-Del., John Thune, R-S.D., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., their offices and NBC News confirmed. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., also attended, their offices confirmed with NBC News.

Now, it should be noted that Sen. Manchin denies there was any "party" at all aboard Almost Heaven, much less one that could in any way be described as "hardy," me hearties.

Speaking to reporters on his way out of the Capitol Monday, Manchin said he did not have a party, instead saying, "When you say party, there's no parties, basically there's gatherings we have on 'Almost Heaven'… so we know each other and talk to each other."

"We were outside. Okay? And we were all, everybody's been vaccinated," Manchin said when reporters asked him about the party, adding that Graham was "all good."

We bet Manchin didn't even have the class to follow that with, "We're all fine here. How are you?"

Manchin also said the entire cruise only lasted "Oh I don't know, whatever it takes [to] eat a hamburger or two … all outdoors." So there.

Spokespeople for the various others on Manchin's Dildo Lube Boat said variously that their bosses had followed CDC guidelines, tested negative, or planned to be tested soon. Sen. Coons said the larboard breeze by the scuppers had been well short of a Nor'Easter, but sprightly:

It was a cookout. I mean — we literally had hotdogs and hamburgers at like four in the afternoon on the top of a boat that was moving in a, you know, stiff breeze.

There's some concern that Graham's quarantine might delay passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, assuming it actually exists before the 10 days are over. Or not!

In other Republican COVID news, on Friday, Tennessee state Rep. David Byrd (R), who spent 55 days on a ventilator after being diagnosed the day before Thanksgiving 2020, issued a statement describing the hellish eight months he spent in the hospital, and urged people to take the virus seriously and to "consider getting vaccinated."

That's a notable reversal for Byrd, who last year was among the 55 members of the state House who passed a resolution condemning the "mainstream media" for using "sensationalism to advance their political agendas" in coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fake newsers, the resolution said, had "shamed and criticized" people who wanted to reopen businesses and churches, while failing to criticize "protests and riots" in which participants didn't remain socially distanced.

Byrd recounted his fight with the disease, noting that his family feared at one point they'd need to make funeral plans, and explaining that even after he could breathe on his own, he was unable to walk or lift his arms. His recovery was complicated when his liver began to fail; fortunately, he was able to get a liver transplant in June.

Byrd said he wanted people to know that "Covid is real and it is very dangerous. It is a disease that wants to kill us." He urged people to "consider" getting vaccinated, and closed, "This is an issue that should not divide us."

Except for how it already has, thanks to entirely too many in Byrd's party, who took every opportunity to politicize masks, social distancing, vaccines, and the very idea of public health.

Still, we are glad Rep. Byrd is doing better, and that he's using his experience to urge others to get vaccinated against the disease.

We also can't help but think it might have been awfully helpful to the people he represents if he had somehow managed to recognize and warn about the dangers of a pandemic that had already killed more than 260,000 Americans by the time he was diagnosed — and as it happens, the day before Thanksgiving marked the nation's highest single-day death toll from the disease up to that date, with more than 2,300 Americans dying. That record would be eclipsed again and again. eventually reaching a peak average of more than 3,400 daily deaths in January of this year.

We suppose he even could have mentioned it any time in the past nine months, but ... well, what is linear time anyway.

We wish all Republicans good health, because we're not monsters, and the comments policy remains in effect. And we certainly hope more of them can learn to recognize science is real even when it's not actively in their lungs.

[WaPo / Tennessean / WTVF-TV / CNBC / Lindsey Graham photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0 (cropped)]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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