- Josh Hawley’s former academic adviser regrets supporting the senator and helping him achieve his political dreams.
- “I had no inkling really just how conservative he was,” Stanford historian David Kennedy said.
- Kennedy made the comments in a lengthy Washington Post profile of Hawley.
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Stanford University professor David Kennedy, who mentored a college-aged Sen. Josh Hawley, told The Washington Post that he blames himself for helping his former student and boosting his political career.
“I think he is a thoughtful, deeply analytical person,” Kennedy told The Post. “What I understand far less well is his particular political evolution. I had no inkling really just how conservative he was. I blame myself.”
The professor mentored Hawley and advised him on his thesis about former President Theodore Roosevelt, which was later published as the book “Theodore Roosevelt: Preacher of Righteousness.”
“The feeling on my part is that I simply was not paying attention to what he was doing in the arena of student culture where he was moving,” Kennedy added.
Hawley received significant backlash for his role in sponsoring an official objection to counting Pennsylvania’s slate of 20 electoral votes for President Joe Biden on January 6 – and following through with his plan after the insurrection on the Capitol, forcing Congress to debate the objection into the early hours of the next day.
Kennedy told the Kansas City Star shortly after the insurrection that he was “more than a little bamboozled” and “certainly distressed” by the events surrounding the Capitol riots, but went further during his conversation with The Post by holding himself accountable.
Hawley alienating the people and particularly the major establishment Republicans who contributed to his rise to office was a major theme of The Post profile.
Thom Lambert, a professor at the University of Missouri Law School who recruited Hawley and his wife Erin to teach at the school, told The Post he was stunned when Hawley said the arrest of Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk who refused to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple in defiance of the Supreme Court, was “tragic.”
“This is the moment when I realized, I’m not sure I know this guy,” Lambert told the Post. “He was trying to establish his credentials as a religious-freedom warrior. This is where I thought, you’re kind of lying here. You’re misrepresenting how the Constitution works.”
Another one of his mentors, former Missouri GOP Senator John Danforth, publicly denounced Hawley’s electoral college objections before the insurrection and, after it, disavowed Hawley altogether.
“Supporting Josh and trying so hard to get him elected to the Senate was the worst mistake I ever made in my life,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, saying, “It is very dangerous to America to continue pushing this idea that government doesn’t work and that voting was fraudulent.”
Danforth also talked to The Post, reflecting on the part he played in Hawley’s ascent to the Senate.
“I think he would not be in the U.S. Senate except for me,” Danforth said. “Maybe that sounds like I’m promoting myself being a kingmaker, but my view is, I put him there and created this thing.”