Sometimes a story that is fresh on Friday is often stale by Sunday. But I can’t let last week’s season finale of Insurrection: American Crime Story go without just a bit of attention.
This hearing was focused on tying up at least most of the loose ends from the preceding episodes, as a good finale should always do, while laying down the narrative of what happened minute by minute on the fateful day of January 6. The emphasis was clearly going to be on Trump’s dereliction of duty, a trite and passive phrase that usually fails to confer real responsibility on the one guilty of such dereliction.
To get the point across, the committee needed to translate Trump’s inaction to action. I knew that any use of “Trump did nothing” was a loser for the story the committee was telling while more active expressions like “Trump choose to,” “Trump prevented,” and “Trump refused to” would be more effective.
So while I was keeping score on active versus passive verbs, suddenly there was Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri interrupting the story. His famous fist pump of encouragement and solidarity to the protesters, many of whom were already insurrectionists and many others who were about to be, was shown. This was followed by his running through the halls of the Capitol and then scurrying down some stairs to seek safety from the angry mob he had just encouraged.
In all fairness, had I been there that day, the security footage of me running would have been more comical, even without a Benny Hill soundtrack. I will even give Hawley credit for trotting down the stairs with a colleague—no doubt the record of my escape would have included me pushing whoever that was to the ground.
But exactly who is Josh Hawley? His politics seem to have a populist bent, with a large side order of nationalism. That’s all well and good if one can pull off that populist “man of the people” bit like Willie Stark in All the King’s Men. But I’ve read that book, and I’ve seen that movie. I’ve even seen the lackluster remake. And Josh Hawley is no Willie Stark.
Hawley’s father was a banker, a profession not usually consistent with man of the people narratives. High school was a private Jesuit preparatory in Kansas City, Missouri, and Josh was valedictorian of his class. From there it was on to Stanford (second generation Stanford at that) where he got his B. A. with highest honors. Phi Beta Kappa, don’t you know.
After a year as an intern at St. Paul’s School in London (founded the year Henry VIII died), it was time for this man of the people to get really serious about his future, which he did by coming back to attend Yale Law School.
With Juris Doctor degree in hand, Hawley jumped right past the state and went straight to the U. S. Court of Appeals for a year before going on to clerk for Chief Justice John Roberts. While working for the Supreme Court, Hawley met his future wife, another Yalie clerking for Roberts. It must have been a match made in Ivy League heaven.
By 2016, our man of the people was ready to run for office, and Hawley set his sights on the office of Attorney General of Missouri. With the help of David Humphreys and his powerful family, he sailed to victory with 58.5% of the vote. The $4.4 million he got from the Humphreys (nearly half of the total campaign cost) probably paved his way. With more help from the Humphreys money and lots of top Republican backing, Hawley unseated McCaskill for the U. S. Senate just two years later.
But the story doesn’t end there. Following January 6, David Humphreys issued a statement demanding the censure of Hawley by the U. S. Senate, calling him “an anti-Democracy populist” and a “political opportunist willing to subvert the Constitution.” Former U. S. Senator Jack Danforth, who had provided some of that Republican backing used to get Hawley his current job, called supporting him “the worst mistake of my life.”
There is nothing wrong with running for one’s life when one is danger, any more than there is with taking advantage of every privilege that one can legally access. It’s funny to see Hawley running with that Benny Hill soundtrack, but what isn’t funny is to see a card carrying member of the elite fist pumping in solidarity to the commoners—a class of people he doesn’t know and only wants to know well enough to extend his own privilege and power. This kind of cynical political game almost never works out to help those who have misplaced their trust in that “not really a man of the people.”
We’ve seen that movie before, and we know it doesn’t turn out well. And more importantly for you, Josh, the remake is even worse.