“Sen. Hawley was doing something that was really dumb-ass,” said Sen. Ben Sasse on Saturday about Josh Hawley’s enthusiasm for the Jan. 6 Trumpite invasion of the Capitol. Speaking on NPR, Sasse said, “This was a stunt. It was a terrible, terrible idea. And you don’t lie to the American people, and that’s what’s been going on.”
The 41-year old junior senator from Missouri was cruising in the fast lane last Thursday morning when he thrust up his fist to salute the mob that would soon invade the building where he works. Along with two-term big-mouth Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx), they looked like they were screen testing for a role in the upcoming post-Trump melodrama starring vanity and greed.
Then something went awry. By dark, the duo was just roadkill that ain’t quite died yet. The two ambitious politicians with huge egos, brash ways and boundless drive to “be somebody” are now less than nobody. In their place are two imperfect men who chose power over reason. Their stupidity will cost them dearly. Like their mentor, Donald J. Trump, they are destined for history’s junk pile.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting thousands of people in Missouri have called for Hawley to “resign, or be expelled from the Senate.” An online petition garnered more than 65,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon, the newspaper said.
Hawley’s spots haven’t changed since he was Missouri’s attorney general. He rode into the Senate on the back of lusterless Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire Conner McCaskill and neophyte Republican governor who earned Hawley political currency he didn’t earn for pretending to investigate the crimes the governor and former Navy SEAL allegedly committed.
Former Gov. Eric Greitens, whom Hawley investigated in 2017 for violating Missouri’s Sunshine Laws, and again in 2018 after the decorated former naval officer was caught in a salacious sexual affair. Hawley was a reluctant inquisitor from the start, even when his only interest in Greitens were allegations he was subverting Missouri’s open records laws with software that deleted his interoffice conversations after they were read.
Greitens stepped down in May 2018 under threat of impeachment stemming from the garish revelations about his 2015 affair with a woman known in court documents as “K.S.” The woman testified to enthralled Missouri lawmakers that squeaky clean Greitens forced her into perverse sexual acts and then threatened to release explicit photos if she squealed.
Hawley, after declining prosecution for as long as he dared, announced his office would investigate Greitens for a laundry list of allegations, saying his clients are “first and foremost the citizens of the state.” He said he’d done his best, which proved to be nothing. Three weeks before he announced his candidacy for McCaskill’s Senate seat, Hawley lamented that despite his best efforts, Missouri’s Republican lawmakers had found nothing amiss.
No sooner had Hawley dodged that bullet than Trump came to Missouri to demand that if McCaskill didn’t enthusiastically endorse his tax-cut proposals, she should be run out of office. She was already vulnerable in conservative circles for a variety of hot-button issues.
The Post-Dispatch reported Trump had his eye on Hawley ever since golden boy Greitens’ reputation dropped into the grease. Hawley’s biggest hurdle was convincing stoutly middle-class, middle-of-the-road Missourians — particularly the state’s grain and dairy farmers already hit hard by Trump’s nonsensical trade policies — that he was on their side.
Hawley found help from wealthy Kansas City businessmen and a wealthy, right-wing Missourian named James O’Keefe. He published a blog titled “Veritas,” a word that means truth in Latin. O’Keefe no doubt had a sense of irony as well as deep pockets. A herd of elephants with terminal diarrhea had nothing on the crap his web page spewed out daily. It dovetailed nicely with all the other ultra-right wing conspiracy nonsense gaining traction across the state.
Ultimately, Hawley’s investigation was the kind Missouri is famous for when the pols in Jefferson City don’t want to find anything out. His opponents said his investigation was “halfhearted,” the kind of talk Trump loves as much as golf and trollops.
“We need Josh so badly. We need Josh now,” Trump said at an ostensibly nonpartisan VFW convention in Kansas City in July 2018. He made similar remarks during another Missouri campaign event in St. Louis the previous month. Trump needed a loyal dog in Missouri and what was better than a pup who would sell his loyalty for a bone. McCaskill was destroyed.
Skip forward to last Thursday, which turned out to be a very bad day for Hawley. He was featured gesturing to the hooligans with a power fist before the crowd stormed into the Capitol and and treated it like a urinal at a hockey game.
He wasn’t alone.
Cruz is the same Canadian-born, naturalized American from Texas who Trump called “Lyin’ Ted” while running against him in the 2016 presidential election.
“I don’t think he’s [Cruz] qualified to be president,” said the pot calling the kettle black. “Look at the way he’s dealt with the Senate, where he goes in there — like, you know, frankly, like a little bit of a maniac. You’re never going to get things done that way.”
When Trump spoke about Cruz in 2016, he was already the high priest of silver-tongued devils. Cruz wasn’t too bad himself. Who would have thought they were destined to become pariahs together after Trump called Cruz’s wife ugly?
What seems to draw them all to the same campfire is a total disregard for anything that doesn’t benefit them personally. Without question, Hawley is captivated by being in Trump’s orbit. Same for Cruz, though he just might be mature enough to know when to bail. Like folks might say in Galveston, they probably never swapped spit.
Unfortunately for self-centered Hawley, he is a mere freshman Republican senator from Missouri — it ain’t worth much. Roy Blunt, the current senior senator from the “Show Me State,” is unlikely to jump to Hawley’s defense.
Cruz, meanwhile, is backpedaling like a trained parrot on a tricycle trying to convince anyone who will still listen that he is a victim of circumstances. What the wannabe Texan ever hoped to gain by joining forces with Trump is harder to understand. Maybe it’s no more complicated than their fascist personalities.
While an undergraduate at Princeton University, Cruz wrote a 115-page thesis titled “Clipping the Wings of Angels: The History and Theory behind the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.”
Cruz said his thesis was inspired by a passage attributed to James Madison: “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
Again, the framers left open the question whether at some time the end may justify the means to protect democracy.
No doubt Cruz never thought he would have a huge personal stake arguing to legitimize an untried theory that may decide his future and that of his confederate Josh Hawley.