Technophobe in DC — Good Old Boy At Home
Bismarck said, “politics is the art of the possible.” For senator Josh Hawley, it is the art of the pliable.
In Washington, D.C. during election years, FOMO or fear of missing out quickly turns to FOLE, fear of losing elections. Senator Josh Hawley thinks he may have found an antidote, beating up on @Amazon.
Hawley lumps “Big Tech” in the same class as “Big Brother” presumably, because he’s hoping for approval ratings to go up. The gambit is more practical than philosophical. When Amazon improved employee safety during the pandemic, Hawley hurled a technophobic molotov cocktail. As a Stanford graduate, the center of the tech universe, this struck me as curious. I wondered, did D.C. turn him into some kind of boneheaded flat-earther?
German Chancellor Bizmark said, “politics is the art of the possible.” For Hawley and his brethren who spend most of their time getting reelected, it is the art of the pliable. His most significant expense is to an outfit called OnMessage, which according to OpenSecrets.org, specializes in wooing his technophobic constituents, and results in his Rambo-like messaging, “Hawley has battled… big business, organized crime, and anyone who would threaten the well-being of Missourians.”
Google is now the mafia, and Hawley wears a cape. Bring out the pitchforks.
David vs. Goliath is easy when you go after Goliath’s that live more than a thousand miles away. Hawley chooses tech companies headquartered far from Missouri, and then only after a spate of bad news makes them soft targets. In November 2017, he opened an investigation into Google after data breaches put the bull’s eye on the company. Then in April 2018, he issued a subpoena to Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal. Now, it’s Amazon’s turn, but not until the Wall Street Journal suggested Amazon may be using data to improve merchandising. The company announced an internal investigation into the allegation immediately, but Hawley hopes that tech bashing will drive ratings higher. And why not, it worked for the other side of the aisle.
Hawley jumped on the “business is bad” platform with a fury known only to politicians in search of a crusade. Could it be that Republicans now face populist firestorms they need to quench like their Democratic rivals have, according to the Wall Street Journal? The discredited strategy of attacking corporations as long as they are NIMBY (not in my backyard) is one of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s most reliable vote-getters. Her attacks on banks always rally audiences, but she doesn’t dare touch State Street in Boston. When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused a banking CEO of supporting a company that cages immigrant children (a complete fabrication on her part), it was California’s Wells Fargo, not New York’s Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan. Politicians know that businesses on the home turf are sacred. If you‘re going to play dirty, then only at away games.
Missouri big business tycoons are his biggest donors apart from conservative PACs. His list includes, according to OpenSecrets.org, Diamond Pet Foods, Emerson Electric, Alliance Coal, and Herzog Contracting, among others. Pretending to be a Luddite may be useful in D.C., but as soon as Hawley gets to Missouri, he’s just another good old boy.
In the offensive against Amazon, Hawley chose a company that happens to be a well known Trump target, and a host of activists and labor unions are only too happy to do his retweeting. His lobbying the Trump Department of Justice to “open a criminal antitrust investigation into Amazon” is ominous, and Hawley knows it. We only hope that the DoJ will resist.
Hawley is not unaccustomed to personal controversy in the area of self-dealing. In 2018, “Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft launched an inquiry to see if Hawley misused public funds in his U.S. Senate race.
Hawley also likes to describe himself as rural but brags about his decidedly non-country education at Stanford and Yale Law School.
Then, he joined the law firm of Hogan Lovells, as an appellate litigator in Washington, D.C., not exactly a country lawyer. The firm boasts a variety of tech clients, including Dell Computer’s $25 billion deal to take the company private and Apple’s $17 billion bond issue, the largest in corporate history. It proves that Senator Hawley doesn’t believe tech is so terrible, especially when it is paying the bill.