Since Josh Hawley was a young man, powerful people have told him he was special. His teachers gave him the “Special R” award, just one feather in the Rockhurst High School valedictorian’s cap of outstandingness. Hawley’s mentor at Stanford, David Kennedy, took a shine to him just weeks into his freshman year, and came to see him as possibly the most gifted student he ever taught. At Yale Law, the dean, Harold Koh, took care to seat the young banker’s son from Missouri beside the state’s former senator John Danforth when Danforth visited. Hawley was working on a book about Theodore Roosevelt; he was fascinated by Alexis de Tocqueville’s idea that American democracy depends on regular people in local communities. It wouldn’t have been polite for Hawley to admit to ambitions such as becoming senator or president. But the glimmer of potential lingered in the air. Here, Danforth thought, is somebody who is really special.
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