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That was a compelling photo gallery and accompanying article in this newspaper's online edition last Friday.

That would be the one displaying and detailing the six Republican white guys who have served in Washington as our state's enablers of Donald Trump.

It turns out that at least five of them had somehow seen the light by last Wednesday while they were cowering from the president's rampaging base to which they'd been pandering.

It's fear either way.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of the 4th District, spanning much of the rural southern half of the state, had been as devoted a Trumpian as any when he high-tailed it to bolt himself in the House Minority Leader's bathroom where he spent two hours in somber reflection about Trump's legacy.

He came out when it was safe--after his fellow conservatives had tried to turn the lock on the bathroom door a few times but then moved on--and voted to certify the electoral college vote.

Westerman told an interviewer a couple of days later that it was tragic that Trump's grand legacy had been permanently tarnished by his bad judgment--that bad judgment being lying to people about the election returns and riling them to break into the U.S. Capitol and loot and cause death and injury while scaring the hell out of conservative congressmen.

Then there was French Hill, bless his heart. The 2nd District congressman is a perfectly bland and harmless business-elite Republican who never has looked comfortable trying to navigate the scruffy Trump base that delivers him his suburban and rural victory margins.

All of a sudden, he looked out Wednesday from his locked office to see the scruffy base marauding.

Hill went to Congress to cut taxes and attend receptions and talk about trade and do George H.W. Bush kinds of things, not hide and gawk while his base invaded and menaced our very Capitol.

A couple of days later Hill gave an interview in which he said, as usual, blah and blah.

He said with studied earnestness that we need to heal now as a nation and work together. He said that Democrats--those bad Democrats--shouldn't be so divisive as to try to impeach Trump for fomenting that thing that, well, yeah, itself might have been a little divisive.

Steve Womack, representing the 3rd District, had not previously been heard from except to growl about the federal debt and deficit. But, after Wednesday, he was lamenting that there were those "willing to follow the lead of someone who basically doesn't have the regard for the Constitution or the rule of law."

Any time previous, Womack might have been referring to, oh, Hillary Clinton's emails. But, no, he was dissing his own president.

Rick Crawford, congressman in the 1st District, was alone among the six in continuing post-insurrection to vote against the Constitution and democracy and refuse to accept the electoral college's report of the states' official report of the people's certified votes.

But who cares? Crawford is so inconsequential that, when a committee he's on was in line to conduct televised hearings important to partisan Republican interest, his party leaders asked him to give up his seat so a competent person could handle his questioning. And he did.

The competent person, Jim Jordan, wasn't.

That leaves the two U.S. senators, and we can dispense with John Boozman by saying that to understand gentle John is to watch Mitch McConnell.

So, we've wound down to the star of the delegation, Tom Cotton, who is so much smarter and stronger than the others that Hill once asked him to hold his hand through a town hall meeting on health care. And Cotton did.

Until two days before the insurrection, Cotton had been diligently following a Trump-cloned course to try to inherit that mantle and become president. But then two of his jumpier rival senators, Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, got out ahead of him on that.

So, in a move managing to appear both principled and calculated, Cotton slid over to announce that it was not the role of Congress to violate the Constitution and presume to undo the will of the people as certified by the states and the Electoral College and upheld by court after court.

Within two days, people were calling for Cruz and Hawley to be removed from the Senate or otherwise ostracized while Cotton was writing an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal explaining the folly of his rivals and outlining his harsh but not-insane conservatism.

It was a smooth move.

Cotton is angling that there is a Republican future in being as mean and hateful as Trump but not as nuts.

So, to wrap up: Westerman is out of the bathroom, Hill is healing, Womack is lamenting, Crawford doesn't matter, Boozman is Mitch and Cotton is on his way to opposing Kamala Harris in the 2024 presidential race.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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