It’s not yet clear who will be the weirdest and most unfit Republican Senate candidate in November. But my early pick is Herschel Walker in Georgia. If he wins — and he could — this nation has truly lost its mind.
The flashing red lights and blaring sirens are not just about the former football star’s myriad lies and stunning hypocrisy. That kind of stuff doesn’t necessarily trouble GOP voters in the least, given their continued devotion to Donald Trump, who counts Walker as a longtime friend. It’s Walker’s combination of utter ignorance and total confidence, which challenges even that of the former president.
Mind you, Walker does challenge even Trump’s record of dubious achievement on the lies-and-hypocrisy score. For years, he railed against the irresponsibility shown by absent African American fathers. The “fatherless home is a major, major problem” in the Black community, he told conservative radio host Charlie Kirk in 2020. In a 2021 conversation with conservative personalities Diamond and Silk, Walker lamented: “The father leaves in the Black family. He leaves the boys alone so they’ll be raised by their mom. If you have a child with a woman, even if you have to leave that woman … you don’t leave that child.”
That stance became a punchline when it was revealed that Walker, who proudly describes his relationship with his 22-year-old son Christian, is also the father of three other children of whom he does not speak — and with whom he is not in regular contact. According to reporting by the Daily Beast, the mother of one of those unmentioned children, a 10-year-old boy, had to sue Walker to get him to pay child support.
I’m old enough to remember when one secret “love child” was enough to end the political career of John Edwards, who twice was a credible candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Three secret offspring haven’t slowed Walker down any more than would-be tacklers did when he was barreling down the field for touchdowns at the University of Georgia.
As for lies, Walker claimed he graduated from college when he didn’t, claimed he had “worked in law enforcement” when he didn’t, and claimed he owned “the largest minority-owned chicken business in the United States” when he didn’t.
We’ve had liars and hypocrites in the Senate before — we have some now, actually — and the republic has survived. But to an alarming degree, even for a senator, Walker seems to believe he knows everything about everything — while his words suggest he knows nothing about anything at all.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this is how he explained his views on climate change to a group of Republican activists: “We don’t control the air. Our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air has got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then, now, we’ve got we to clean that back up.”
This is how, in March, he explained his doubts about evolution: “At one time, science said man came from apes. Didn’t it? … If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it.”
This is how he promised right-wing podcast host Glenn Beck a quick cure for COVID in August 2020: “Do you know, right now, I have something that can bring you into a building that would clean you from covid as you walk through this dry crap?”
And this is what he said on Fox News two days after the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting: “Cain killed Abel and that’s a problem that we have. What we need to do is look into how we can stop those things. You know, you talked about doing a disinformation — what about getting a department that can look at young men that’s looking at women that’s looking at their social media. What about doing that? Looking into things like that and we can stop that that way.”
Even by the standards of today’s Senate, a body of which Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, is a member, this is incoherent, “Looney Tunes” babble — even if Walker rambled his way around to a generally sensitive position: increasing funding for mental health treatment.
While Walker wanders along the campaign trail, Walker’s Democratic rival, incumbent Sen. Raphael G. Warnock, has concentrated on emphasizing what he has accomplished for Georgians in his brief time in office. Despite the choice between crazed and competent, polls show Walker and Warnock in a statistical tie.
Warnock won his seat in a runoff election on Jan. 5, 2021, after Trump, furious at having lost the state, told Georgia Republicans that their votes wouldn’t be counted fairly. Trump essentially gifted Warnock to his seat. Now, by endorsing Walker, let’s hope Trump maybe doing it again.
Eugene Robinson is a Washington Post columnist. Follow him on Twitter @Eugene Robinson.
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