There are liberals on social media as I write this speculating that this quote is evidence that … Graham has been compromised by the Russians and is now serving the same Kremlin masters that the president supposedly is. That theory is nonsense, of course.

But.

This is not the Grahamnesty I thought I knew. Ever since he went full beastmode at the Kavanaugh hearing he’s been a different man. Did McCain’s passing free him to be more of a populist? Is this some sort of strategic thing, backing Trump on high-profile standoffs with Democrats in hopes that POTUS will acquiesce on lower-profile matters like punishing the Saudis for the Khashoggi killing?

I feel like if this keeps up for much longer I’m going to start having misgivings about calling him “Grahamnesty.”

He kept it up on Twitter:

DACA? Is either side talking seriously about a deal involving DREAMers? Seems kind of random for Graham to mention that — almost as if Benjy Sarlin is right:

Perhaps we’ll stick with the “Grahamnesty” sobriquet a bit longer.

Can’t fault Graham for looking ahead to some sort of face-saving compromise after the two parties deadlock and the government shuts down, though. One way out of that would be to agree on a middle-ground number for funding the wall. Trump wants $5 billion, Democrats have offered $1.6 billion for general “border security.” Maybe we end up with $3 billion or thereabouts for the wall — but Democratic voters won’t like that, even though it’ll mean Trump was forced to come down off his initial number. They just won the House despite immigration becoming a prominent issue in the final weeks due to the caravan, and the wall is Trump’s baby. They don’t want to give in on this and don’t think they should have to, especially if he’s playing shutdown hardball to achieve it. If they end up giving him anything for the wall Pelosi and Schumer will have to get something meaningful in return. Graham’s already laying the groundwork for it: DREAM amnesty for wall funding.

As for the politics, it was … unorthodox, shall we say, for Trump to say on camera at this afternoon’s meeting with Chuck and Nancy that he’d take the blame for shutting down the government over wall funding. Particularly with polls like this floating around:

Ed was right earlier, though, when he said that Trump will own the shutdown no matter what. He’s the one driving the standoff by demanding wall funding; it’d be silly for him to try to frame it differently. And to be honest, there’s no better moment for a shutdown to signal seriousness of purpose than right now. The GOP’s as far away from the next election as it can be and the opposing party is about to take over a house of Congress. An early test of wills will show Democrats up front that Trump intends to make border security a top issue over the next two years and that he won’t take no for an answer — if in fact he wins that test of wills.

Will he, though?

The core virtue of Trump’s presidency to nationalists like Tucker Carlson is how he’s managed to shift the focus of the national conversation to nationalist priorities. The wall is Exhibit A on that point, and a shutdown to force wall funding would be a dramatic demonstration of how intent Trump is on doing it. If he ends up backing off or caving, it’ll leave the Tuckers of the world wondering whether there’s really any core virtue there after all. (Some, like Ann Coulter, are already wondering.) That’s the real political risk here to the president — not that swing voters will remember the shutdown when they go to the polls in 2020 but that populists will remember that it failed to produce any meaningful border improvements, if in fact it fails to do so. He’d better be careful.