The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

Republicans Will Forgive Herschel Walker

I was only sort of following the Herschel Walker meltdown this week. I’ve also started to read the Maggie Haberman book on Trump, Confidence Man. All I can say about it right now is that it’s very long and describes Trump’s entire life, starting when he was a bratty toddler. (I should say “when he was a child”; he’s still a bratty toddler, of course.) Right now I’m still in the 1980s.

But one thing I did not realize until I stumbled across it last night was that Trump knew Herschel Walker in the 1980s. Walker played for the New Jersey Generals U.S. Football League team when Trump owned it, ca. 1983. Some of you may have remembered that, but I am very sure I paid no attention whatsoever to Donald Trump and the U.S. Football League back then. According to Trump’s own account of several years ago, Walker used to call Trump if he didn’t think the coaches were playing him enough, and so Trump would override his coaches.

When Walker decided to run for the Senate seat in Georgia he’d been living in Texas for a decade. Did he call Trump and ask him for help in getting a Senate nomination in Georgia? Did Trump ask him to run? It just seems so random that Walker would suddenly decide to run for the U.S. Senate at this point in his life.

See also GOP crisis in Herschel Walker race was nearly two years in the making in the Washington Post. The GOP could have stopped him from being the nominee if it had tried. Much of his history of domestic abuse was in the public record, not to mention the fact that he hadn’t actually lived in Georgia for a very long time. But they gave him a pass.

In early 2021, as football star Herschel Walker considered running for Senate, he approached some of Georgia’s top Republican operatives about advising his campaign. The operatives were warned about political vulnerabilities in Walker’s past — including allegations of violence against women — that were openly discussed in the state’s political circles, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Walker’s reaction to being confronted with the allegations was also troubling, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. When the consultants would ask the candidate about incidents even in the public record, he would often get simultaneously defensive and aggressive, accusing the questioner of being a Democratic plant or ally of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the minority leader.

Walker’s getting “defensive and aggressive” when asked about his past pretty much confirms he’s a domestic abuser, IMO.

Those consultants passed on working with Walker, but he pressed ahead with his campaign. After all, Walker’s overwhelming name recognition in Georgia as a Heisman Trophy-winning football star and backing from former president Donald Trump instantly made him so formidable that state and national Republican leaders didn’t mount a serious challenge in the primary, despite concerns about Walker’s baggage.

So what if he’s a brain-damaged, violent, lying piece of crap? He used to play football! And Trump likes him! What more do you want in a Senator? Compare/contrast college dropout Walker to the Rev. Raphael Warnock, his opponent. Warnock is an upright man of integrity with no baggage I know of and a PhD from Union Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with Columbia University. And he is an actual Baptist minister. But Warnock supports abortion rights, and he’s a Democrat. So the white evangelicals support Walker. And I bet Walker will lose very few white evangelical votes just because he paid one of his girlfriends to have an abortion.

Maureen Dowd has a column up now about how both Walker and Trump have a history of being abusive, in various ways, of women, and this never seems to cost them any support. But if your base is a pack of misogynists (including the women), why would it? I’ve said before that the real difference between people who support legal abortion and those who don’t is not whether you think a fetus is a living person deserving of rights, but whether you think a woman is a living person deserving of rights and not just some kind of walking sex appliance. Opposing abortion is the perfect issue for misogynists because it enables them to abuse and punish women while imagining themselves to be on a righteous, moral high ground.

But, really, what’s really important to them is being able to abuse women, which is why, deep down, a lot of evangelicals probably don’t care whether Walker paid for an abortion.

In a lot of ways the Walker candidacy is the closing of an old loop. Back when Roe v. Wade was decided, white evangelicals didn’t really care about the abortion issue. No, seriously. They considered abortion to be a Catholic issue. White evangelicals in the early 1970s were still fighting against racial segregation. Their biggest issue was how to keep their schools all white and still qualify for taxpayer dollars. (It wasn’t until the late 1970s that they started to define desegregation as an assault on religious freedom.)

In the late 1970s some Republican political operatives persuaded Jerry Falwell and others to join in the antiabortion crusade in exchange for at seat at the table in a potential future Reagan Administration. By then the white evangelicals were probably realizing that segregation was a lost cause. So they became “pro life,” and now opposing abortion seems to be the single most important issue defining white evangelicals. And the former segregationists don’t seem to care that Herschel Walker is black, any more than they care that he’s a dishonest, abusive sack of shit who may very well suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy from his football days, assuming he wasn’t always a dimwit. He’s just the guy to help keep women in their place.

Of course, Elie Mystal for several weeks has been saying that Herschel Walker is what racists want to see in blacks. — a stupid brute who will do as he’s told. (See also Mistal, The Herschel Walker Senate Campaign Is an Insult to Black People.) After he said this in an interview Republicans started screaming that Mystal is the real racist.

So the question is, if the Republican nominee were black but someone educated, intelligent, respectful of women, and without baggage — well, forget it; such a candidate never would have been nominated by Georgia Republicans. Walker’s brutishness and abusiveness is part of his appeal. He’ll be forgiven for the abortion.