Josh Hawley has a new publisher — that’s good news
“If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”
— Obi Wan Kenobi to Darth Vader
Somewhere in Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) head, that oft-repeated line from “Star Wars” must have popped up a few weeks ago after Simon & Schuster cancelled plans to publish his new book, “The Tyranny of Big Tech.”
The usual suspects in media applauded Simon & Schuster for doing so, citing the horrific Capitol Hill siege and Hawley’s objection to the presidential election result as justification for doing so.
But all this action did was make the 41-year-old senator a martyr, another victim of cancel culture. And while Hawley’s argument that his First Amendment rights were being violated by the publisher was laughable (it’s a private company and can do what it pleases, after all), his contention that he is a walking example of being cancelled was not.
Enter Regnery, a large conservative publisher, to see the business opportunity a free agent like Hawley presented:
“We’re proud to publish Mr. Hawley’s book, which his original publisher has made more important than ever,” wrote Thomas Spence, Regnery’s president and publisher. “We don’t have to agree with everything—or anything—Mr. Hawley does. We ask only if his book is well-crafted and has something true and worthwhile to say. The answer is yes.”
“Reasonable people can disagree whether [Hawley’s] act was noble or cynical, courageous or rash, but no one can reasonably argue that he intended to incite that afternoon’s invasion of the Capitol by a lawless mob,” he added.
In a related story that oozes with irony, Simon & Schuster, through an agreement reached in 2018, “handles distribution for Regnery titles in all markets and territories around the world” and “sales in Canada and export markets.” Wowza.
But despite Hawley getting a book deal after all, he still is the target of those who believe his actions in raising objections to the certification of Electoral College votes – along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and 10 other senators – were partially responsible for the siege on the Capitol that left five people dead. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) even believes in considering the removal of both men via the 14th Amendment, which applies to members of Congress engaging in insurrection.
If that’s the route Democrats even as relatively moderate as Manchin are arguing for, how does any reasonable person explain what happened in 2017 or 2005, the last two presidential elections won by Republicans?
“Our election was hijacked. There is no question. Congress has a duty to #ProtectOurDemocracy & #FollowTheFacts,” wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Twitter in 2017 regarding President Trump’s election that 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton repeatedly called “illegitimate.” Hardly anyone in traditional media objected to such rhetoric.
In 2005, Pelosi also applauded the 31 Democratic House members and one senator who objected to the results showing George W. Bush winning reelection.
“The members of Congress who have brought this challenge are speaking up for their aggrieved constituents, many of whom may have been disenfranchised in this process,” Pelosi said on the House floor in Jan. 2005. “The American people must have confidence that every vote legally cast will be legally counted and accurately counted,” she added. “But constantly shifting vote tallies in Ohio and malfunctioning electronic machines which may not have paper receipts have led to additional loss of confidence by the public.”
There’s nothing wrong with Pelosi or other Democrats voicing their objections. The Constitution says they have the right to do so. It was the same right Hawley exercised earlier this month.
A familiar counterargument seen in the cesspool that is Twitter is that Democrats’ objections in 2005 and 2017, as well as 2000, did not result in a deadly siege on the people’s house as it did on Jan. 6.
The absurd implication is that Hawley and Cruz went through the exercise with the sole purpose of firing up the mob and inciting them to attack — an attack no one, including the FBI and law enforcement, saw coming on the Capitol (other infinitely more robust resources would have been deployed).
Meanwhile, investigations into the riot show that meticulous planning of an attack had been conducted for weeks, and well before Hawley and Cruz announced their objection to the election on Dec. 30 and Jan. 3, respectively.
“Some wondered why I stuck with my objection following the violence at the Capitol,” Hawley wrote in a Southeast Missourian op-ed on Jan. 14. “The reason is simple: I will not bow to a lawless mob, or allow criminals to drown out the legitimate concerns of my constituents.”
You can agree or disagree with Hawley or Cruz or any of the other lawmakers who objected to the election results. It was a symbolic exercise no reasonable person believed would actually change the result, just as no reasonable person believed it when Democrats engaged in the same symbolic exercise.
This argument does not excuse anything that happened on that horrific day at the Capitol. Anyone directly involved in the siege or who hurt police officers should have the book thrown at them. The person responsible for killing Officer Sicknick should spend decades in jail. And the president should finally apologize for allowing this stolen election rhetoric to go on well after it was clear that his legal challenges were going nowhere.
Fortunately for those who believe in free speech and the free market, Hawley got another book deal. And in the process of an attempt to silence him by canceling his original book deal, he just got stronger than some could possibly imagine.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.
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