Rookie GOP senator backs Jan. 6 nonsense

   The House of Representatives, with 435 members, is bound to have a few kooks. See, e.g., Mo Brooks, Louie Gohmert, and incoming freshman and QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene. The Senate, on the other hand — historically an older, wiser, and more experienced body — has traditionally been a more deliberative body (it’s where House bills go to die). Some Senators even feel concern about the institution’s reputation.

And then you have children like Missouri’s rookie junior senator, Josh Hawley (photo), who won his first elective office just 4 years ago, and after 2 years as a state attorney general who attacked Obamacare while failing to investigation his party’s corruption, defeated an incumbent Democratic senator in the 2018 senate mini-“red wave,” and now wants to be president and thinks his ticket to the White House is pandering to Trumper nutjobs.

So, pander he is, by pledging to object to electoral votes for Biden that have already been tested in the courts and found by grownups to have nothing wrong with them (other than black people voted, which as I explained here, Republicans regard as “fraud”).

Under the 1887 Electoral Count Act, any House member can object to any state’s electoral votes, but the objection dies without a Senate endorsement, and GOP Senate leaders have been lobbying their caucus to discourage any of their members from signing on to this cockamamie scheme. Not, you understand, out of respect for democratic principles or the 81 million voters who chose Biden, but as a matter of their calculated self-interest.

   “Hawley’s announcement,” CNN says, is a “headache” for Republicans that “baffled Republican members and aides alike.” (Read story here.) One of those aides called it “the height of selfishness.” His GOP colleagues aren’t pleased. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who won a tough reelection in November, said: “I question why he is doing it when the courts have unanimously thrown out the suits that the President’s team have filed for lack of credible evidence.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) called it “playing with fire.”
   I’d say it’s more like a little boy playing with matches, because this won’t light any fires, except maybe in the streets, where Trump supporters reportedly are smuggling guns into the city ahead of the January 6 electoral formalities in Congress.
   Sasse explained what’s going on this way: “Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong — and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. All the clever arguments and rhetorical gymnastics in the world won’t change the fact that this … is designed to disenfranchise millions of Americans simply because they voted for … a different party. We ought to be better than that. If we normalize this, we’re going to turn American politics into a Hatfields and McCoys endless blood feud — a house hopelessly divided.”
   He’s looking ahead. His colleague Hawley can’t see past his nose. (This assumes Hawley, a lawyer, knows that a fraud claim being rejected for lack of evidence by 60 courts means the alleged fraud didn’t happen, and is cynically exploiting the mindless gullibility of Trump supporters for what he thinks is short-term personal political gain; the situation is worse if he truly believes there’s anything to those claims.)
   Here’s why cynical politicians like McConnell and cowards like Collins are against Hawley’s grandstanding:
There are 21 Republican Senate seats to defend in 2022. There are 13 Democratic ones. It’s going to be a heavy lift next cycle already for Republicans and no one is looking to recreate the intra-party primary fights that plagued the party between 2010 and 2014 and ultimately ended in Republicans losing races they thought they had locked down. These members were also the same crew that had to run for reelection in 2016 when Trump was on the top of the ticket. Many of them lived through the Access Hollywood tape, and they were asked to comment on everything Trump said at his bombastic campaign rallies. The expectation for many of them had been that their reelections in 2022 would look very different. Trump is going to be gone, but this vote means that there is a chance their fortunes are going to be tied to Trump once again.”
   Yeah. Every GOP senator up for reelection in 2022 who votes against this dishonorable and hopeless gambit (it has no chance of overturning the election result) risks a vicious and costly primary fight against him by the pro-Trump crazies. That will divert resources from the general election campaigns and make them look like anti-democracy nutjobs to general election voters. One of McConnell’s tasks is to shield GOP senators from awkward votes that could hurt them at election time by keeping those bills from reaching a vote (such as protecting them from having to vote against $2,000 stimulus payments). If he fails at preventing this vote, it could turn out to be one of his costliest failures in terms of political damage to his party. It will also cement the GOP’s image as a party trying to overthrow America’s democracy, causing independent and centrist voters to run away from Republicans for years, perhaps generations, to come.
   And by joining forces with the pro-Trump crazies, and dragging their cause into the U.S. Senate, Hawley will establish himself as a pro-Trump crazy himself, who promoted disproven and baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, helped stir up a hornet’s nest outside in the streets, and establish him as an extremist with no political future beyond his own state. Besides annoying his caucus (read about that here), there will, of course, be payback from Democrats when he wants something for his state.
   It’s a rookie mistake, of the kind that reckless novices never recover from.

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0 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Extremist Republicans aren't better than this.....he represents trump's nut job followings #

    Grandstanding to appeal to trump voters. It is less work to “win-over” the illogical extremists of the alt-right. Bring a hateful slogan against democracy and fair elections, tear away at our American traditions of conceding and having a smooth presidential transition.

    This is who right wing Republicans are right now.

  2. Mark Adams #

    Sorry Mr McConnell the back benchers are being boisterous. It happens from time to time and floggins are not permitted. Perhaps a jolly round of singing “Friggen in the Riggen” will settle them down.

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