Republicans think abortion is murder. Except when a GOP Senate candidate reportedly pays for one.
Revelations about Herschel Walker expose the right's appalling hypocrisy.
The right-wing spin of revelations about Herschel Walker reportedly paying for an abortion in 2009 reveals something significant about Republican efforts to restrict the bodily autonomy of pregnant people — namely, they don’t even really buy what they’re selling.
If you haven’t already read the backstory in Roger Sollenberger’s piece for the Daily Beast, click here and check it out. Suffice it to say that his reporting is airtight, and includes corroborating evidence such “a $575 receipt from the abortion clinic, a ‘get well’ card from Walker, and a bank deposit receipt that included an image of a signed $700 personal check from Walker.”
Walker wasn’t married at the time, but he did father another out-of-wedlock child with another woman earlier that year. Still, the thing that looks especially bad for him is that he’s currently on the campaign trail posturing as a staunch backer of total abortion bans that don’t include exceptions even for rape or incest. The idea behind bans of this sort is that any abortion — even ones stemming from assault — is murder. So, as Chris Hayes put it on Twitter, “in the moral cosmology of Herschel Walker and Republicans the accusation is that he paid to have his child murdered.”
That sounds pretty damning, so if Republicans really believed it, you’d expect them to forcefully distance themselves from Walker even at the potential cost of a Senate seat. Sure, Walker is denying the allegations, but the Daily Beast has a number of smoking guns, and his pushback is completely unpersuasive. On Monday, for instance, he went on Hannity and didn’t even deny sending money to the woman, saying, “I send money to a lot of people.”
It’s also not like it’s just the Daily Beast or liberal Democrats who are shedding new light on Walker’s problematic personal life, which we already knew contains credible allegations of domestic violence, secret children, and a variety of lies about his educational and business backgrounds.
Shortly after the Daily Beast story dropped, Walker’s 23-year-old son, Christian Walker, a right-wing commentator with large platforms on Twitter and Instagram who spent much of September stanning for Ron DeSantis, went nuclear on his dad.
Christian went even further in a video he posted Tuesday, saying his father “has four kids, four different women, wasn’t in the house raising one of them. He was out having sex with other women. Do you care about family values?” (Republican officials in Georgia have already started attacking Christian as “a deeply disturbed kid” and “spoiled brat.”)
It appears the GOP does not in fact care very deeply about the family values they pay lip service to. Georgia-based right-wing commentator Erick Erickson, for instance, quickly tried to downplay the story by tweeting “I thought we all knew this” (we didn’t) and adding, “also, old news and people do change over time.” (Note that Erickson’s tweet doesn’t actually square with Walker’s denial.)
The idea that people “change over time” might hold some water had Walker acknowledged the abortion, but he hasn’t done that. On the contrary, he went as far on Hannity as to try to deny that he even knows the woman in question, despite her being in possession of a card and check with his apparent signature on them.
More broadly, if you really believe that abortion is murder, then just dismissing a credible report about someone paying for one 13 years ago as “old news” seems pretty out of step with the moral framework you profess to ascribe to. But that’s what Republicans are doing.
Right-wing columnist Kurt Schlichter was especially shameless. He responded to the Walker story by tweeting, “Let’s assume it’s true. Don’t care.” The only problem is that Schlichter has spent years tweeting things like, “In the future, people are going to recoil in horror at our tolerance of abortion,” and “Abortion is killing.” But apparently anything can be forgiven in the process of trying to own libs.
Former NRA shill and radio host Dana Loesch cut through the noise and succinctly expressed what the right-wing’s real position is, tweeting “I want to to control the senate and you should, too. The end.” That came after a tweet in which Loesch argued that Walker paying for an abortion isn’t as bad as Warnock supporting abortion rights.
And it isn’t just right-wing media personalities who are saying stuff like this — Republican electeds and those working on their behalf are doing it too.
National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesperson Chris Hartline downplayed the story without denying it, telling the Atlanta Journal Constitution that “Democrats and the media have tried to stir up nonsense about what has or hasn’t happened in Herschel Walker’s past because they want to distract from what’s happening in the present.” NRSC chair Rick Scott, meanwhile, released a statement indicating he accepts Walker’s weak denial, saying “when the Democrats are losing, as they are right now, they lie and cheat and smear their opponents.” (Never mind that Walker’s son is perhaps his most damning critic right now.)
Scott has previously characterized abortion as “killing innocent children,” so he has little choice but to run with Walker’s denial. But the reality is that the Daily Beast’s evidence is pretty irrefutable.
If Republicans really believed the stuff they say about abortion being murder, you’d think they’d at least take the Daily Beast’s reporting seriously. That they’re instead dismissing it out of hand and running with the word of a known serial liar shows that their true priorities are a mix of owning the libs and obtaining power by any means necessary.
In that respect, the party hasn’t changed much since October 2016, when Republicans rallied around Trump in the weeks after the Washington Post published a videotape of him bragging about groping women. Then, at least, a number of prominent Republicans at least issued perfunctory denunciations of Trump. Six years later, the only prominent Republican willing to denounce Walker’s galling hypocrisy is his own son.
Aaron’s Clip Room
(This is a new paid subscriber-only feature where I embed and discuss clips, some viral and some not, that have caught the attention of this seasoned video journalist.)
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Public Notice to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.