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Josh Hawley, soulless reactionary automaton


This profile of Glenn Greenwald’s favorite bullshit-populist and orthodox Reaganite Josh Hawley should help us dispel with the idea that there’s anything complex or interest about his politics. He is just a perfect example of an increasingly familiar type, a person from a privileged background laser-focused on climbing within the Federalist Society affirmative action network. The roots of his politics are equally bog-standard:

Theirs was a traditional, patriarchal and churchgoing household. After pursuing a career as a teacher, Mrs. Hawley “became a speaker and leader of Christian spiritual renewal conferences and retreats in Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas,” according to an account in a Kansas paper. She also ran prayer groups at the family’s Methodist church.

Ms. Ruehter-Thompson said Mr. Hawley’s “dad was more of the influence,” adding, “There were always discussions of Rush Limbaugh.”

Hawley’s politics are exactly as “populist” as Rush Limbaugh’s, which is to say “devoid of any substantive populist content whatsoever.”

The other strain that consistently runs through Hawley’s career is that he is interested in getting the jobs his thirst for power demands but not in actually doing those jobs:

Several classmates, however, observed a change in Mr. Hawley toward the end of his time at Yale. On a campus where success is often measured in Supreme Court clerkships, ambition is a given. But it was nonetheless striking when Mr. Hawley suddenly seemed more interested in winning prestigious posts than in doing the work once he won them.

A former classmate recalled Mr. Hawley’s excitement when both were named editors at the Yale Law Journal. Eventually, however, their friendship frayed. Mr. Hawley was very engaged, this person said, when his role meant collecting the business cards of Federalist Society members as he asked them to contribute articles. But when it came to finalizing footnotes the night before deadline, fellow editors often found that he forgot to check his email.

Irina Manta recalls a similar experience. She and Mr. Hawley were rivals at the campus Federalist Society chapter and served together as vice presidents of events. “I tried really hard to work with him,” Ms. Manta said. But as the year went on, she found herself organizing events and debates alone. “When I would send emails, I just wouldn’t hear back from him,” she said. “He wasn’t exactly into working hard if he could help it.” (Ms. Manta wrote an article about her time at Yale with Mr. Hawley for USA Today on Jan. 5.)

The most memorable commercial of the campaign featured the candidate surrounded by ladders being climbed by men in suits. In the ad, he castigated “career politicians just climbing the ladder, using one office to get another.” Yet shortly after he was sworn in as attorney general in January 2017, Republicans including Mr. Danforth and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, began urging him to challenge Missouri’s vulnerable Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill. Mr. Hawley obliged.

His actual job appeared to take a back seat.

“I don’t think he had much interest in that office, really,” said J. Andrew Hirth, who served as deputy general counsel under Mr. Hawley’s predecessor, Chris Koster, a Democrat. “From the moment he got there, he was looking toward the Senate.”

He was increasingly absent from the office. Sometimes he was meeting with potential backers for his Senate campaign; one local paper reported that he was leaving work midday to exercise at a gym about a half-hour away. A photograph of a casually clothed Mr. Hawley buying wine on a workday afternoon circulated on social media.

The attorney general’s office was quickly hollowed out of talent as Mr. Hawley appointed key officials with stronger religious than managerial credentials. The most notable was Michael Quinlan, who was a “mediator and conflict coach” at a Christian marriage counseling group when he was recruited to oversee civil litigation.

Hawley’s full-on embrace of seditionism is just the latest grim step up the ladder for someone whose ambition is to amass as much power as he can to make the lives of as many ordinary people as possible worse. One can only hope that he ends up in the Scott Walker remainder bin in 2024. The fact that he absolutely hates having to deal with anyone below his privileged social station but loves simulating intelligence to rich donors suggests how he’ll actually play in Iowa:

As successful as these tours were, Mr. Hawley’s growing coterie of advisers realized quickly that their candidate disdained, as one termed it, the “people part” of campaigning — the unannounced visits to local diners, the niche roundtable conversations with voters.

Yet when it came to selling himself to kingmakers, he thrived.

In a campaign season that coincided with Mr. Trump’s political ascent, Mr. Hawley found an eager audience among Missouri’s donor class and Republican elders. He dazzled them by seeming to be everything Mr. Trump was not: tempered, thoughtful, a reservoir of adjectives like “Burkean.” When asked about their first meetings with Mr. Hawley, powerful people in Missouri recalled being enchanted not so much by his vision for office, but by the fact that he sounded smart.

You can see why he loves Trump so much…

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