By John Krull
For The Republic
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, says folks like him — meaning white guys — have it tough.
In an interview with Axios on HBO, Hawley said the “left” was attacking America and “masculine” virtues, particularly. It’s part of an ongoing complaint on the senator’s part. He likes to say there is a war against the manly qualities of courage, independence and assertiveness.
I wouldn’t waste much time on Hawley, except for two things.
The first is that it’s possible, should former President Donald Trump stumble or be indicted before 2024, that Hawley will be a serious contender for the presidency. His fist-shaking, faux-proletarian pose at the Jan. 6 insurrection was designed to position him as an heir to the Trump base.
The second thing is that I hear this sort of nonsense from a lot of guys who ought to know better.
One of the ongoing sources of education for me during this era has been learning, again and again and again, just how easy so much of the MAGA crowd finds it to feel sorry for themselves.
They can scream and shout the most combative things at other people, but the second someone looks sideways at them or, God forbid, questions their conduct, their eyelids start to quiver and the tears begin to flow.
Hawley is a prime example of this “pity-pity-me” approach to politics.
The hard road that led him to where he is now began near Kansas City, where his parents sent him to a private school that costs $15,000 per year to attend. Then he entered Stanford University, where he was a legacy. The cost to attend that institution is around $75,000 annually.
After Hawley completed his undergraduate degree, he spent a year in London doing an internship at a tony school, then came back to the states to enter Yale Law School. The annual price tag for that place is roughly $70,000 per year.
After that, he spent time clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Hawley was elected attorney general of Missouri when he was in his mid-30s and to the Senate before he turned 40.
Yeah, Hawley has had it really, really rough.
The truth is that I doubt Hawley truly believes any of this swill. If he’s stood toe-to-toe with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, or even U.S. Sen. Linda Murkowski, R-Alaska, he must know that courage, independence and assertiveness are not exclusively masculine virtues.
But Donald Trump has demonstrated that one path to the White House involves encouraging easily aggrieved white guys to hold nonstop pity parties. That’s the path Hawley wants to travel.
The notion that anyone anywhere is waging war on courage, independence and assertiveness is absurd.
What has come into question — justly — are the vices associated with “toxic masculinity.” These vices include believing that some people — specifically, white guys — don’t have to share, don’t have to treat other people such as women with courtesy and respect, and that they have a right to make all the decisions for everyone all the time.
Opposition to these vices isn’t anything new. At one time, not practicing these vices was just considered good manners.
But it seems hard for Hawley and the crowd he’s wooing to grasp that. Someone somewhere obviously told him and them that life was supposed to be easy, and that they were supposed to always get everything they want.
No wonder they’re so wounded. Learning fundamental life lessons can be difficult, even painful.
But they also are opportunities for growth.
Hawley and his crowd should see it that way.
Out of this process, they could grow a brain that allows them to actually think things through.
Or even a spine to deal with life’s vicissitudes.
In fact, some of the things they might consider growing even come in pairs.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. Send comments to [email protected].