A Study in Comedic Irony: Josh Hawley Publishes a Book on “Manliness”

by | May 30, 2023 | Opinions & Commentary

Josh Hawley scampers away from his beloved macho rioters on Jan. 6. (Screenshot from Jan. 6 hearing of Josh Hawley running away from rioters)

A Study in Comedic Irony: Josh Hawley Publishes a Book on “Manliness”

by | May 30, 2023 | Opinions & Commentary

Josh Hawley scampers away from his beloved macho rioters on Jan. 6. (Screenshot from Jan. 6 hearing of Josh Hawley running away from rioters)

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, well known for supporting the Jan 6 insurrection and then sprinting for his life away from the rioters, has now published a book on manliness.

Improbably—is there enough irony left in the world to contain it?—”spineless chicken man,” “sniveling li’l bitch,” liar, coward and “coifed, soft, seditionist” Josh Hawley, famed for his “wee scamper of fear” from Jan. 6 rioters he abetted, has written a book about…manhood. Predictably, it’s been shredded by the former Marine and Democrat seeking his Senate seat and most of the known world for banalities like, “Every man is called to be a warrior.” Most cogent review: “As if.”

Manliness, it seems, is the original endangered species. Despite their spot at the top of dubious human achievement, one scholar notes, “As long as men have existed, they have been in crisis,” with almost everything threatening them with obsolescence. In 1486, the medieval witchcraft manual Malleus Maleficarum claimed witches could “truly and actually remove men’s members.”

In the 1660s, King Charles ll warned the new “coffee” would destroy men’s virility; early 1900s opponents of coeducation worried reading could emasculate little boys; at the turn of the century, the founder of the Boy Scouts cited the need for “training for our lads if we are to keep up manliness (instead of) lapsing into a nation of soft, sloppy, cigarette suckers.”

The Vietnam War’s chimerical “peace with honor” was deemed a manly endeavor by Nixon, who called the Vietnamese “little cocksuckers.” Tucker Carlson was so obsessed with “The End of Men” he hawked testicle tanning. And little Donnie Trump Jr. just launched a typo-filled “non-woke” magazine “for the unapologetic man”—”Hunting. Style. Fitness. Dad please look at me”—so insecure he shoots endangered animals from a car. He also just trashed DeSantis for his “effeminate voice” before yugely garbling the charge that “Trump has the charisma of a mortician.” Maybe cut back on the coke, bro.

Following in this fine, fragile tradition comes Missouri Sen.Josh Hawley’s Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs, from conservative, alternative-fact-filled Regnery Publishing. The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz calls the book “a “shallow mess,” both “short because it’s an op-ed stretched out to barely 200 pages and long because it’s preternaturally boring,” with no jokes: “Consuming it is like eating a small but dense log of suet.”

Channeling Succession‘s fervid Kendall Roy, Hawley breaks his “adventure in impressionistic and impassioned disorganization” into six chunks—husband, father, warrior, builder, priest, king—who do lofty, abstract things like “endure” and “act boldly.” But no, Schwarz stresses: In a book that decries liberals who “flee from trial and pain,” the skinny, homely twit last seen doing his best Wile Ethelbert Coyote dash out of the Capitol as the thugs he’d just saluted began trashing it never mentions his unforgettable “Sprint of Self-Preservation” that the Internet then helpfully memorialized set to multiple tunes—Britney, Bee Gees, Benny Hill et al.

Mostly, Hawley’s “flaccid excuse of a man” goes into “nonsensical depths” about Greek philosopher Epicurus and the “dark forces” of his modern liberal descendants vs. the Bible and the “mighty work” of God’s “yoke of manhood.” His deep conclusion: “The Bible is right. The Epicurean liberals are wrong.”

Others note that, approaching a complex role that’s weirdly, consistently hailed as both unassailable and endangered, it’s deeply juvenile—though unsurprising given the right’s mania for guardrails—to “want a script for adulthood to obviate existential uncertainty,” to seek “an eternal parent to tell you exactly when and how to clean your room.”

Hawley likewise crafts a distorted, carefully curated narrative about himself as a manly man of the people: Skirting his banker father, elite prep school and Stanford/Yale Law School degrees, he hones in on his farmer grandfather (who he occasionally visited), his Vietnam vet uncle (“You confront evil and do something about it,” like rape, murder, napalm villages), and cheesy memories of “Christmases with a tree in the parlor and a fire on the hearth and summers of chasing fireflies in the front yard,” never mind voting against abortion rights and health care for veterans suffering from toxic burn pits.

The gross hypocrisy hasn’t gone over well with the vast segment of the populace who “will henceforth chuckle when the words “Josh Hawley” and “man” are mentioned in the same sentence.” Hawley’s man-baby is “the last person qualified to preach (about) what it means to have a pair,” argues one skeptic; others dismiss Hawley as a “dour moralist,” “a neo-Confederate at war with modernity” and “our leading national pipsqueak.”

They reflect a strong consensus that few of America’s 165 million males want “instruction (on) ‘masculine virtues’ from a 43-year-old child of privilege setting speed records in the face of danger.” His blistering reviews on Goodreads (1.3 stars) torch everything from the cover—”They had to use REAL BIG letters (because) gotta compensate”—to the hypocrisy—”It’s like a taxi driver writing about repairing goldfish bowls—his next book will be on quantum mechanics.”

Others on a “feckless, cowardly excuse of a human being” “raising a fist while protected by barricades and Capitol police (and) then fleeing like Chicken Little”: “This is not a man, but a lap dog. Place a collar on him, watch him bark, he can even raise a paw!” “Full of laughs! What, they’re unintentional?”

His most potent critic is Lucas Kunce, a working-class high-school valedictorian, long-distance runner, graduate (and first male cheerleader) of Pell-grant-funded Yale, then Missou Law School, 13-year-veteran Marine and toxic-burn-pit survivor, and anti-trust advocate who wants to break up corporate PACS seeking Hawley’s seat, and unshy about unmasking his bullshit: “This is the Show-Me State, and the only thing Josh Hawley has shown us (is) how to be a fraud and a coward.” He’s backed by actor and lifetime Missourian Jon Hamm. “If you want to be told about ‘Manhood,’ some guy wrote a book about it,” he declares.“But if you want someone to show you courage, send Lucas Kunce to the Senate.” Easy call.

Republished with permission from Common Dreams, by

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