Josh Hawley wants to rule the United States; let us make no mistake about that. Claire McCaskill (whom he barely beat in 2018) said on MSNBC the other day that he had just won the race for attorney general when he started running against her, and that he hadn’t even taken his Senate seat when he started running for president. Of course, he has to contend with the equally ambitious and unprincipled Ted Cruz, who has similar autocratic ambitions, though for the moment it looks like the two of them are willing to conspire with each other — getting close enough so they can each check out the other’s back for knife entry points. (You can be sure that neither would be so foolish as to pick the other for VP — that’s asking to get killed.)
But Hawley may just have overplayed his hand during Wednesday’s insurrection.
[Hawley’s] insistence on pressing the challenge after a violent mob egged on by Mr. Trump stormed the Capitol to protest President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, endangering the entire Congress and the vice president in a day of terror that left at least five people dead, has earned him pariah status in Washington. . . .
His fellow Republicans in the Senate lined up to blame Mr. Hawley for the riot. The editorial boards of major newspapers in Missouri accused him of having “blood on his hands” and called on him to resign. His publisher canceled his book deal and his erstwhile mentor called his efforts to get Mr. Hawley elected to the Senate “the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.”
The Times suggests his actions made have him even more popular in right-wing circles in Missouri, naturally. Even so, he pissed off a lot of national GOP leaders:
[A] viral photo of Hawley entering the Capitol before the riot, showing the senator in a slim-fitting suit, hair perfectly coiffed and raising his fist toward the gathered crowd, has already become a lasting image of a day that won't soon be forgotten.
“It was like a Dukakis-on-the-tank moment,” one Republican strategist told NBC News in reference to a famous attack ad on the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, “in that he just looked phony and out of place and like a doofus.”
When Hawley (along with a GOP Congressman from PA) objected to the Pennsylvania electors late in the evening, McConnell wouldn’t even allow him to debate it in the Senate before forcing a vote (92-7). To say Moscow Mitch is not pleased with Hawley would like calling Wednesday’s insurrection a “First Amendment protest.”
Even before the riot, Hawley was taking flak:
Before any violence took place at the Capitol, Hawley was under fire from colleagues, whether it'd be the likes of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who told MSNBC last week she believed his effort “borders on sedition or treason” or Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah., who said the objections were simply an act to “enhance the political ambitions of some,” alluding to possible 2024 presidential aspirations.
Hawley “is talking about Pennsylvania because he wants to come here & run for President some day,” Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., tweeted. “The lies he told inspired today's violence. He is still telling those lies. Pennsylvania will never forget.”
Rick Tyler, who was communications director for Sen. Ted Cruz's 2016 campaign (the Texas senator led his own objection to the electoral results), said the criticism coming Hawley's way is “well deserved.”
Well, of course Cruz’s allies would say that; Hawley is a threat to him.
The editorial from one of Missouri’s major papers (the other also attacked him) is already a classic:
No one other than President Donald Trump himself is more responsible for Wednesday’s coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol than one Joshua David Hawley, the 41-year-old junior senator from Missouri, who put out a fundraising appeal while the siege was underway. . . .
Hawley, Marshall and other Republicans who upheld Trump’s con about widespread fraud knew all along that his claims were bogus. Now that they’ve seen exactly where those lies have landed us, decency demanded that they try to prevent further violence by making clear that President-elect Joe Biden did not win by cheating.
Both Cruz and Hawley are serious threats to all of us. Unlike Trump, they actually know how government works and how to manipulate it without being obvious and crude about it. Also unlike Trump, they are serious religious nuts and also experienced lawyers.
Both are now vulnerable to being taken down — some Senators are calling for their resignations and I think they could be charged with abetting sedition. At this particular moment, though, I think Hawley has left himself most open to attack with his silly fist bump and his insistence on pursuing a pointless Pennsylvania challenge.
In politics, especially these days, it is appropriate to “kick someone while they are down.” We need kick Hawley, hard and over and over, now while he’s on the ground, to make sure he can never make good on his threat as a “clear and present danger.”