Herschel Walker is a Preview of 2024
The GOP keeps swallowing.
The GOP’s reaction to the news that Herschel Walker paid for a girlfriend’s abortion is less a revelation than a reminder of what the party has become.
It’s also a preview of what will happen in 2024.
If you have any doubt how the rules of politics have changed, or that the GOP will rally around Donald Trump again — no matter what he does or says, or whether he has been indicted — watch how this is playing out.
“Hypocrisy,” François de La Rochefoucauld once quipped, “is a tribute that vice pays to virtue.”
But that’s not really true anymore, is it? Because the whole idea of character, ethics, and virtue isn’t the point anymore, is it? And hypocrisy? Who cares, really?
That the allegedly pro-life Walker — who opposes even allowing abortions in cases of incest, rape, or the life of the mother — would pay for an abortion as recently as 2009 is an extraordinary case of hypocrisy even in an era that has grown largely inured to post-character politics.
But the story should also pose a real moral challenge to the pro-life movement: It turns out that Walker was not merely pro-choice, but actively pro-abortion in his raggedy private life. A little more than decade ago, he paid for what pro-lifers consider the murder of an unborn baby.
Walker’s own son, Christian, called out the rank hypocrisy here: “Family values people: He has four kids, four different women. Wasn’t in the house raising one of them. He was out having sex with other women,” he said on social media. “Do you care about family values?”
As it turns out, nope. As in: not at all.
Six years into the Trump Era, you should stop being surprised. Really. Concerns about “character” and “family values” have been overwhelmed by a political culture of whataboutism and rationalizations about binary choices. And power.
Henry Olsen, a fellow at the inaptly named “Ethics and Public Policy Center,” and erstwhile pundit for the Washington Post, assures us this morning that Walker’s “alleged hypocrisy on abortion likely won’t matter,” because elections “are about choices, and those choices are often decidedly imperfect,” and politics “is too important these days for questions of character to matter.”
Olsen explains why backing Walker isn’t even a difficult choice.
The choice between Warnock and Walker isn’t a hard one for Republicans or pro-lifers. Warnock is a solidly progressive Democrat who has largely backed his party’s agenda. That’s disqualifying for any partisan Republican.
This sort of post-ethicism has now been thoroughly internalized by the GOP, which is formally and aggressively rallying around Walker.
National Republicans quickly began to close ranks on Tuesday behind Herschel Walker, the party’s embattled nominee for Senate in Georgia, a day after a report that Mr. Walker, an outspoken supporter of an abortion ban with no exceptions, had paid for a girlfriend’s abortion in 2009…
“Full speed ahead in Georgia,” said Steven Law, the president of the Senate Leadership Fund, which booked more than $34 million in television ads in the state between Labor Day and Election Day.
Well, of course. Think of what the GOP has already decided to swallow.
Walker’s ex-wife alleges that he threatened her life by pointing a gun at her temple. A former girlfriend also accuses him of threatening her life, an allegation Walker denies. The Associated Press has raised questions about his business practices, specifically whether he exaggerated his financial success.
The accusations are picking up steam as Walker’s primary opponents, including Georgia’s agricultural commissioner, use them as highly personal attacks.
In the face of all of this, the GOP said, “Why not?” Only the naïve and innocent would think an abortion would make a difference now.
While some on the right claim to believe Walker’s implausible denials, for the most part the reaction is: We just don’t give shit, there’s a Senate seat to win here and that’s all that matters. . . .
Here’s former NRA flack Dana Loesch, brushing off Walker’s bankrolling what she calls “one broad’s abortion.”
Lest the reference to “one broad” is not clear enough, Loesch later escalated to calling her a “skank.” Because it’s all about #winning…
It may be a digression to point out that wasn’t “baby eagles” Walker aborted, but whatever.
To the surprise of precisely no one, the Federalist also quickly declared: “The Herschel Walker Abortion Accusation Changes Nothing,” because, David Harsanyi assures us, “In politics, ideological indecency matters more than personal failures.”
You might recall that the Federalist also urged voters to back alleged serial ephebophile Roy Moore — even if allegations of sexual assault were true, and even if he was, in fact, a “dirt-bag.” The Federalist’s logic at the time:
But let’s suppose the accusations are mostly true. Then from a conservative moral perspective, Moore is guilty of lying, trying to have pre-marital sexual relations with girls half his age, and pressuring them to do so without first determining that they reciprocate. There is no sugar-coating what he did. Moore was a dirt bag and is currently lying about his actions rather than confessing the truth and asking for forgiveness.
But, but, but…
All voting is voting for the lesser of two evils, and it’s almost never wrong to vote for the lesser of the two. There are no perfect candidates. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, sometimes bigly
So, for the the Federalist, coming to Walker’s defense simply requires calling on its muscle memory of sophistry.
ICYMI: This is now the GOP party line.
NRSC Chairman Rick Scott, who could not muster even a mild rebuke for Trump’s “death wish” or racist jibe about “Coco Chow,” was filled with righteous umbrage on Walker’s behalf.
The right-to-life movement is also prepared to brush off the allegation against Walker. The National Right to Life Committee said in a statement that it “stands behind its endorsement of Herschel Walker” because “Herschel Walker wants to protect unborn children while Raphael Warnock wants to see them die through unlimited abortion.”
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Meanwhile, in Wisconsin…
1. Fox News: Putin Propaganda Primetime
For seven months, Russia has waged a vicious war of aggression in Ukraine, killing thousands of civilians. To make matters worse, in the past two weeks, Vladimir Putin has illegally annexed parts of Ukraine and has once again threatened to use nuclear weapons. A principled American conservative TV network might advocate a muscular response to this behavior. At a minimum, it would tell the truth. But Fox News is unconstrained by such principles. In primetime hours, it has become a platform for propaganda that serves Putin and undercuts Ukraine.
During the day, you can find many Fox News hosts and guests who speak candidly about Putin’s war crimes and the importance of American resolve. But the hosts who control three of the four hours between 8:00 p.m. and midnight on the East Coast—Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Greg Gutfeld—are peddling arguments that coincide with Putin’s interests. So are several other Fox hosts. Here’s what they’re telling the network’s viewers….
2. Putin’s Crazy Days
Every time you think the madness in Vladimir Putin’s Russia has reached its peak, it goes up another notch or two (or ten). The end of September and the start of October saw a dramatic escalation of insanity. First, Putin went on TV to declare that four occupied Ukrainian regions would immediately and irrevocably become a part of Russia after “referenda” conducted quite literally at gunpoint—and to deliver an anti-Western rant that dramatically illustrated the horseshoe theory of politics by rattling off a list of Western crimes that included everything from colonialism and the slave trade to the bombing of Hiroshima to same-sex marriage (“Parent No. 1 and Parent No. 2”) and multiple genders. Then, Putin’s mad dream of Novorossiya triumphant crashed in less than 24 hours when one of its cities, Lyman, was recaptured by Ukrainian troops—and Ukrainian forces continued their forward march to reclaim the lands Putin had just proclaimed to be Russian forever. Meanwhile, the mobilization effort meant to shore up Russian forces in Ukraine continues to be a disaster, with reports of elderly and sick men being called up—as well as female reservists who are single mothers with young children—and with claims that as many as 1.5 million uniforms and equipment packs have gone missing. And since the announcement of mobilization on September 21, as many as 700,000 people have left Russia.
Every detail that emerges seems to add to the surrealism of this murderous farce.