Missouri GOP Senator Josh Hawley grilled Colleen Shogan, President Biden’s nominee to lead the National Archives and Records Administration, noting that she had written a paper he said disparaged every two-term Republican president since World War II.
Hawley’s questions came during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday.
“You have talked in today’s hearings so far and in your pre-hearing Q&A about how much it’s important to be a non-partisan leader, correct?” Hawley began. “And so if you’re confirmed, you will attempt to stay politically neutral in your decision making, is that fair to say?”
Hawley then brought up an article Shogan had written titled, “Anti-Intellectualism in the Modern Presidency: Republican Populism.” In the 2007 article, published by the American Political Science Association, Shogan wrote of Republican presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush, saying that their “leadership posturing place them on the explicitly anti-intellectual side of the spectrum.”
“Do you consider this piece to be non-partisan?” Hawley asked.
“I consider it to be an academic article publication 16, 17 years ago, a scholarly piece,” she answered.
Hawley noted that Shogan had said modern GOP presidents had adopted an anti-intellectual posture and asked her how to define such a phrase.
“The ability so speak in very plain, common-sense terms to Americans,” Shogan replied.
In the article, she wrote, “Republicans tend to exhibit anti-intellectual qualities. Democrats coalesce on the intellectual tail of the continuum.”
In relation to this, Hawley asked, “So is your point that Republicans are stupid and Democrats are intellectual?”
Shogan argued she did not mean that, but then followed by saying that the three GOP presidents had a “rhetorical connection with the American people.”
“A rhetorical connection that you say is anti-intellectual and you feature every two term Republican president since Dwight Eisenhower,” Hawley noted. “It’s a piece on rhetoric, but you attribute part of the ‘anti-intellectualism’ of the Republican party, to in your words, to the rise of the religious Right. Because those voters are stupid?”
She disagreed with that characterization.
“You wrote an article saying basically that Republican voters are stupid, that Republican presidents deliberately appeal to anti-intellectualism,” Hawley pointed out with anger. “You roll it all up in this thing called Republican populism, yet you’re trying to present yourself here as a non-partisan. In fact, you’re an extreme partisan. … You’re someone who has denigrated Republican presidents; every two-term Republican president … since the Second World War and their voters.”
Hawley explained the importance of Shogan’s apparent partisan bias, obliquely referring to the FBI raid on former President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home.
“This is not just a theoretical set of questions, because as you know, we have seen what happens when you have political activists in a position that you are up for confirmation for. And we are living through that as a nation right now,” he said.
“We are living through the weaponization, the political weaponization of the National Archives; the political weaponization of the Department of Justice; the political weaponization of the FBI, such that half of the people of this country cannot trust those institutions,” he continued. “We’re living with a president who calls half the voters of this county semi-fascists, who has said they are a threat to democracy.”
“How can you assure them that you will be truly non-partisan given what you have said?” Hawley concluded.