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Profiles in Courage

Josh Hawley

Sen. Josh Hawley, allow me to introduce Sen. Trusten Polk, your fellow Missourian.

Congressman Hal Rogers, meet Congressman Henry C. Burnett, a Kentuckian like you.

Early in the Civil War, Polk and Burnett were among a handful of pro-slavery Democratic lawmakers from the Show Me and Bluegrass states who were expelled for treason against their country--and their own loyal Union states--by siding with the Confederacy. 

Hawley, Rogers and 145 other Republicans (7 more senators and 138 more representatives) voted to embrace Trump's banana republic, dictator-style attempt to keep himself in power by wiping out the free and fair electoral vote that ultimately made Joe Biden president.

For aiding and abetting Trump's scheme to convert the Constitution into a bird cage bottom liner, the Gang of 147 deserves the same unhappy fate as Polk, Burnett and their fellow traitors. But all of them--like the guilty Trump--will almost certainly escape the boot. It takes a two-thirds majority to kick out a senator or a representative. Turning an impeached president out of office requires a two-thirds Senate majority. Trump could be dumped via the 25th Amendment, but that seems doubtful, too.

Hawley, a Trump sycophant on steroids, also joined the president in inciting the pro-Trump mob that attacked and sacked the Capitol, terrorizing lawmakers and staffers.

Hawley, a Trump sycophant on steroids, also joined the president in inciting the pro-Trump mob that attacked and sacked the Capitol, terrorizing lawmakers and staffers.

Polk and Burnett ached to see the rebels capture Washington and hoist a Confederate flag over the Capitol. Some of the Trumpian terrorists packed Confederate banners inside the building. (Neo-Nazis among them sported anti-Semitic shirts.)

Before the bully boys raced for the Capitol steps, Trump egged them on with another rant reminiscent of a certain megalomaniac's Munich beer hall ravings in the 1920s and 30s. Hawley fired up the faithful by raising his fist in solidarity. 

Anyway, history will be unkind to the Gang of 147 and Trump's latter day Blackshirt/Brownshirts. I doubt few of the Republicans (or rioters) care. The rioters' aim was a coup. The pols wanted to curry maximum favor with the Trump cult by showing absolute fealty to their Jim Jones. 

Meanwhile, somebody ought to write a sequel to President John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage, nameit Profiles in Cowardice and fill it with true stories of grasping, grifting political hacks like Hawley and Rogers. I suspect it would be at least twice as thickas JFK's book, which was about eight senators who, unlike the octet of Trump toadies, had the guts to risk political careers and the wrath of their constituents by elevating principle over party.

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Hawley and Rogers' craven genuflecting didn't go unnoticed back home. The Kansas City Star lit into Hawley. Linda Blackford, a columnist with the Lexington Herald-Leader, tore Rogers a brand new one, as we Kentuckians say.

"No one other than President Donald Trump himself is more responsible for Wednesday’s coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol than one Joshua David Hawley, the 41-year-old junior senator from Missouri, who put out a fundraising appeal while the siege was underway," the Stareditorialized.

"This, Sen. Hawley, is what law-breaking and destruction look like. This is not a protest, but a riot. One woman who was apparently part of the pro-Trump mob was fatally shot by Capitol Policeas lawmakers took cover. Some of those whose actions Trump encouraged and later condoned brought along their Confederate flags.

"And no longer can it be asked, as George Will did recently of Hawley, 'Has there ever been such a high ratio of ambition to accomplishment?' Hawley’s actions in the last week had such impact that he deserves an impressive share of the blame for the blood that’s been shed."

Rogers was the only Kentucky lawmaker to vote to derail the constitutionally-mandated electoral vote count. 

"It’s fair to say that of Kentucky’s entire Congressional delegation, I was not expecting Rep. Hal Rogers to be the only one to throw his legacy to the winds and his face onto the “Wall of Sedition," Blackford wrote. "That’s the helpful graphic from the New York Times showing all 147 Republicans who voted to overturn election results despite an attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday incited by the mad king President Trump."

(She was kinder and gentler toward Rogers than the Louisville Journal was toward Burnett. The state's leading Unionist paper suggested that because Burnett "blusters and raves like a bedlamite against the Lincoln Government" he should decamp to the Confederacy "which the unanimous voice of the world brands as the most tyrannical in the history of despotism." Burnett was, after all, "admirably qualified for the office of Blackguard Extraordinary and Scullion Plenipotentiary to the court of Jeff Davis, for his brain is as feeble as his lungs are forcible and his mouth is as dirty as a den of skunks.")

Added Blackford: "The mob violence was enough to change several legislators’ minds, but not, it seems, Rogers. Then again, Rogers and his family do have a lot to lose if he were to leave Congress. Rogers is the poster child for 'the swamp,' the kind of political corruption that Trump swore to end but instead propagated. Numerous stories over the years have documented Rogers’ legal graft and corruption. In only the most recent, by my colleague John Cheves, his PAC pays his wife $3,000 a month for 'event planning.'”

Blackford concluded that the Kentucky Democratic party was correct in calling "for Rogers’ resignation. He should lose his seat, along with every member who voted with him. It’s why Trump should be impeached or removed by the 25th amendment. Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz should be removed under Section 3 of the 14th amendment. We need to break the fever dream of alternative facts, show people there are consequences for promoting them and get our government back to its normal levels of dysfunction. Hal Rogers is one tiny piece of this terrible movement that ended with a mob in the U.S. Capitol for the first time since 1814. But if we don’t stop it now, it will happen again all too soon."

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If more Republicans had displayed profiles in courage, it never would have happened

Berry Craig