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    Editorials
    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    Fist pumper to fleeing coward

    Josh Hawley is a laughingstock.

    During Thursday night’s televised hearings of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Elaine Luria played video of Missouri’s junior senator that will surely follow him the rest of his life.

    In the clip, Hawley sprints across a hallway as he and his fellow senators are evacuated after insurrectionists had breached the Capitol building. When it went across the screen, the audience in the room with the committee erupted in laughter.

    Of course, Twitter immediately dogpiled. Hawley’s name was the No. 1 trending topic in politics that evening as users shared the hashtag #HawlinAss along with GIFs of a galloping Forrest Gump.

    “From now on, if political reporters ask Josh Hawley if he’s planning to run, he’s going to have to ask them to clarify,” quipped one.

    A signature Hawley issue is masculinity — as in, how little of it American men seem to have these days. It’s a frequent topic in his speeches and on his podcast, where “the left-wing attack on manhood” is a dire threat to our society. Regnery Publishing is set to release his book “ Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs ” next year. Twitter didn’t see much bravado as he ran from the mob on Luria’s video.

    But funny as the visual was, there is absolutely nothing amusing about Jan. 6, 2021. We said that day that Hawley has blood on his hands for his role in perpetuating the lies that drove thousands of people to violence. That remains true.

    Beyond the physical toll, though, is the damage Jan. 6 continues to inflict on our democracy and our shared sense of truth. The House committee is systematically demonstrating how too many Republicans in Donald Trump’s orbit allowed him to incite the riot, which he had promised in advance “will be wild,” and were then unable to get him to call his fans off until unimaginable damage had already been done.

    Hawley has become one of the defining figures of that day. A famous photo captured by Francis Chung shows him raising a fist in solidarity with the crowds that would soon be breaking out windows and assaulting law enforcement. Luria said a Capitol Police officer who was there told the committee that Hawley’s gesture “riled up the crowd and it bothered her greatly because he was doing it in a safe space protected by the officers and the barriers.”

    And later that day, when the Senate reconvened after the halls of the Capitol had been cleared and secured, Hawley took to the floor to be the first voice calling to throw out millions of Americans’ votes cast fairly and legally for the rightful winner in a presidential election. And never forget: He was joined in his campaign to discard ballots by Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall.

    Chung’s photo of Hawley and his salute has become iconic. Taking a page from the Trump playbook, Hawley has embraced the famous image, flagrantly violating copyright laws by slapping it on T-shirts and camouflage beer koozies, and selling them on his political campaign’s fundraising website. Politico, owner of the image, sent a cease-and-desist demanding the merchandise be removed from sale. Of course, Hawley refused — a defiance shameful and shameless in equal measure.

    Since Trump left office, many insiders have revealed in interviews and tell-alls that the administration really was as unethical and chaotic as its worst detractors claimed all along. (Gee, thanks guys, but why couldn’t you have come clean back before the damage was done?) History will not look kindly upon the dead-enders who continued to defend Trump long after it became apparent his conduct was indefensible. When Cheney is saying even more birds are singing, believe her.

    Sen. Josh Hawley might not fear a little mockery of his hasty flight from Capitol marauders. But he might be justified if he’s afraid of what emails or text messages some previously loyal staffer might be considering turning over to the House committee. Stay tuned to the hearings.

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