The Herschel Walker dilemma

Republicans have a choice: pursue political power, or keep faith with their own stated convictions. Guess which one they’ve chosen.

click to enlarge If the Republicans believe what they say they believe, Walker’s history of abortion should be disqualifying. - Shutterstock
If the Republicans believe what they say they believe, Walker’s history of abortion should be disqualifying.

The important thing is not that Herschel Walker paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion in 2009, or that he broke up with the woman when she refused to terminate a second pregnancy in 2011.

It’s not that he’s obviously lying about all of this, either. It’s not even the hypocrisy of a man who thinks he has the right to dictate women’s reproductive choices — he favors a total abortion ban with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life or health of the mother — but can’t figure out how to use a condom.

The truth is, Walker deserves almost as much pity as scorn. He is, after all, a human warning label for CTE who can barely string together a coherent sentence. Even so, his history of domestic violence allegations and bizarre and brazen lies made clear that he belongs nowhere near the Senate.

Now the Republican Party has a dilemma on its hands.

Or it should, anyway.

This is the party that worked for decades to stack the U.S. Supreme Court with anti-abortion ideologues, then rammed through draconian state abortion bans the second Roe fell — including in Georgia, where women can no longer legally terminate pregnancies about six weeks after their previous menstrual period, before many women know they’re pregnant.

These are the same folks who’ve lectured us that abortion is murder, who now want to grant clumps of cells personhood; the same self-righteous prigs who’ve stood outside calling women who enter “baby killers.”

By their standards, Walker paid for the murder of his own unborn child. He then pressured a woman to murder another of his children. If they believe what they say they believe — if Walker believes what he says he believes — this should be disqualifying.

But Georgia law doesn’t allow parties to replace candidates so close to the election, and Walker’s victory would likely make Mitch McConnell the Senate majority leader.

So Republicans have a choice: pursue political power, or keep faith with their own stated convictions. Guess which one they’ve chosen.

“If y’all find a perfect candidate that has never had challenges in their life, I want you to bring them to me and let me meet him or her,” a Georgia state representative told The New York Times. A Republican state leader added that they are “not voting for fathers and husbands of the year.”

“Do you wait for a candidate who perfectly aligns with everything you not only want them to do when they’re elected, but all of your cultural and moral beliefs?” an evangelical pastor asked Politico. “Or do you take what’s given to you and make the choice between the options?”

Since we’re talking about choices, Walker’s opponent, Sen. Raphael Warnock, is an actual Baptist minister and by all accounts a decent human being. But he’s also a Democrat, and that, it seems, is the truly unforgivable sin.

“After the fake Russian smear and the lies about Justice Kavanaugh, why would I worry about this?” Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker and paragon of sexual virtue, told the Times. “I am totally for Walker.”

A Republican consultant put it best, telling The Washington Post: “I’m going to vote Herschel Walker. I don’t care if he performed an abortion himself — I am going to vote for him.”

After the scandal broke, Walker released an ad that said he had “overcome” mental illness “by the grace of God.” He also told Fox News: “I was forgiven, the Lord has forgiven me.”

But Walker hasn’t been forgiven of this “sin,” because he hasn’t acknowledged it took place. Thirteen years of parochial school have informed me that repentance is a prerequisite to divine absolution. Instead, Walker has accused his ex of lying — never mind the receipt from the abortion clinic, the get-well card the woman received from Walker, and the check he wrote her, all of which she has produced for multiple media outlets.

Walker responded that he sends money to “a lot of people.” (I also recall the Good Book saying something about bearing false witness.)

The woman filed a paternity suit against Walker over the pregnancy she carried to term. A court eventually ordered him to pay $3,500 a month. He’s seen his son three times over the last 10 years, the woman says. Meanwhile, on the campaign trial, Walker has lambasted Black “absentee fathers.”

Three months after dumping his pregnant girlfriend, he told Playboy he was engaged to the woman who is now his wife. One month after that, yet another woman filed a police report against Walker, claiming that after a 20-year relationship, he threatened her after she told him she wanted to see other people. (Walker denied that allegation.)

Walker’s defenders have clung to his assertion that he knew nothing about the woman’s abortion. But if he did pay for it, they rationalize, it happened years ago — and even if he’s lying about it today, he’ll still vote to ban abortion in the Senate.

These are the same moral gymnastics evangelicals used to justify their support for Donald Trump: Sure, he confessed to sexual assault, was accused of multiple rapes, tried to buy a porn star’s silence about their affair, threw migrant children in cages, was in bed with the mob, evaded taxes, and God knows what else. But he appointed judges who banned abortion, so all’s well that ends well.

That’s the real takeaway from the Herschel Walker saga.

Doug Jones, the former Alabama senator — the guy who beat fundie teen creeper Roy Moore, then lost to racist ex-football coach Tommy Tubervilleprobably said it best: “Folks, it’s time to acknowledge that ‘evangelical’ is no longer a Christian religious label but a political one focused on political power more than faith.”

For people who claim to moral right to regulate freedom, power is more important than faith, and faith is a tool to obtain power.

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About The Author

Jeffrey C. Billman

North Carolina-based journalist, focusing on politics and policy analysis.
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