By all accounts, Herschel Walker’s defects as a Senate candidate are widely known. The star running back had been very public about his history of mental illness, which led to violent threats in his former marriage. Far beyond the normal risks associated with running a celebrity outsider, Walker represented a particularly unlikely choice.
Of course, that all changed thanks to Walker’s association with Donald Trump. Ever since Walker joined Trump’s New Jersey Generals franchise in the ill-fated USFL, the two have been connected. It was this friendship and Trump’s endorsement that allowed Walker to clear the field in what might have been a competitive primary to unseat Senator Raphael Warnock. But in the absence of a competitive primary, Walker’s more recent dirty laundry was largely left unaired — until now, as a Daily Beast report maintains that Walker, as recently as 2009, paid for an abortion.
This report does seem significant. Rumors of Walker’s improprieties and lack of clarity on the number of children he’s fathered have dogged him for years, and led to a great degree of condemnation for his advocacy on behalf of fatherhood in the black community. But when an accusation ends up in the pages of the Daily Beast — a once high-quality publication that, under increasingly diminished leadership, has stooped to having few editorial standards if any at all — instead of the New York Times, Washington Post or a local Georgia paper, it does nothing to boost the story’s veracity among conservatives. They are used to being lied to, and about, by the media. So Walker’s response has not been contrition or admission, but total denial — and his supporters are likely to accept that.
Walker’s experience will serve as a sign of another development: Republican voters have a different standard now when it comes to accusations of sexual impropriety or even abortion hypocrisy.
The Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape followed by the Brett Kavanaugh experience illustrated that when Democrats deploy attacks that might have, in bygone days, sunk GOP presidential candidates or judicial nominees, today’s GOP is no longer so morally brittle. They are more interested in winning no matter what than in feeling good about polite honorable losers. Moral victories are for sports, not politics.
Even if Georgia GOP voters have qualms about Walker, the overwhelming majority of conservatives and pro-lifers will still vote for him. He’s up against a radical left senator in Warnock whose position on abortion is representative of the Democrat extreme — no limits, up until birth, taxpayer funding and all the rest. Walker’s personal moral failings are irrelevant to a Republican who just wants to see the Senate back in GOP hands.
Georgia pastors praying over Herschel Walker. pic.twitter.com/GzLiyYQvyk
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) October 4, 2022
There was once a time when fiscal conservatives and national security hawks bemoaned the necessary steps they had to take as fusionists to win over pro-life social conservatives. For decades, they imagined a more pragmatic third leg to the stool — and all they could achieve if that priority was put into the minds of the Bible-thumpers. Well, that’s what today’s Republican Party has become — and just as it has led them to make peace with voting for Donald Trump, it will lead them to make peace with voting for Herschel Walker. As Red Saunders would say: “Winning isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.”