It’s fair to say Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has had an eventful 2021, starting with the senator’s anti-election efforts that turned him, at least temporarily, into a political “pariah” on Capitol Hill.
As regular readers know, that’s really just the start. Hawley was denounced by former allies; prominent businesses distanced themselves from the Republican; several independent media outlets called on the Missouri senator to resign in disgrace; and several of his Senate colleagues filed an ethics complaint against him.
Many Republicans, in particular, marveled in late December at Hawley’s efforts to undermine the results of an American election. Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, concluded, “The ambitions of this knowledgeable, talented young man are now a threat to the republic.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) added, in reference to Hawley, “Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.”
A week later, in the wake of the insurrectionist riot at the Capitol, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) appeared on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” and was asked about colleagues such as Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), whose recklessness contributed to the unrest. “They’re going to have a lot of soul searching to do,” the Pennsylvania Republican said in the interview. “And the problem is they were complicit in the Big Lie…. That’s going to haunt them for a very long time.”
At the time, many wanted Toomey’s comments to be true. The deadly attack on our Capitol was a disgrace for the ages, and it stood to reason that members like Hawley would have no choice but to do “a lot of soul searching” as they were “haunted” by their undemocratic mistakes.
But four months after the insurrectionist violence, Hawley clearly regrets nothing.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who led the effort in the Senate to contest Biden’s election victory, said he does not regret raising his fist to a pro-Trump mob gathered outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 ahead of the violent insurrection. “I waved to them, gave them the thumbs up, pumped my fist to them and thanked them for being there, and they had every right to do that,” Hawley said during an interview Tuesday with Washington Post Live.
In the same interview, the Missouri Republican also continued to stand by his decision to vote against certifying 2020 election results he didn’t like, telling the Post he was merely raising “concerns about election integrity.”
Hawley does not appear to have engaged in any “soul searching.” If he’s “haunted” by his recklessness, the senator is hiding his anguish quite well.
And there’s no great mystery behind his indifference: Hawley is enjoying some of the most robust fundraising of his career; he was still able to publish a book; he maintains a high media profile; and the Republican is still moving forward with his national ambitions.
As far as Hawley is concerned, there’s no point in dwelling on his anti-election efforts, because from his perspective, there were no adverse consequences for his actions. All the senator sees is rewards for misconduct.
It’s a dynamic that creates a twisted set of incentives for the Missouri Republican — and everyone else in elected office.