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NY Times thinks Herschel Walker may win? WTF? Why?

Holy sheet! The NY Times thinks this jackass may win? Why? First, the big issue (abortion) appears to be a distant concern (according to their poling) way behind the Economy & threats to "democracy". Second, people seem more concerned with Warnock's support of Bidden than Trump! Who would have thunk it?


If a jerk like Walker can win, how about the more qualified GOP folks?


Why Herschel Walker May Win

Oct. 16, 2022


By Frank Bruni, NY Times


Frank Bruni is a contributing Opinion writer who was on the staff of The Times for more than 25 years.


Herschel Walker did himself significant good in Friday night’s debate in Georgia. That may be hard to recognize and even harder to accept, given his occasional struggles to get his words out, his passing acquaintance with policy details, his glancing relationship with the truth. But his performance serves as an important reminder to Democrats who’ve taken such heart from — and found such hope in — the blemishes and blunders of Republican candidates in crucial races: Being flawed and being doomed are very different things.


The mess around Walker over the past two weeks and the mess of him over the entirety of his campaign have made it easy to focus on those flaws and forget the advantages that he, like all Republicans running in the midterm elections, possesses. But Walker spent Friday night remembering. He knew what he had to do to stay competitive in, and possibly win, the neck-and-neck Senate race against Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat — which could decide which party controls the chamber.


He seized on President Biden’s unpopularity to cast Warnock as Biden’s dutiful manservant. “Can he tell me why he voted with Joe Biden 96 percent of the time?” Walker asked the moderators and the audience. He said Biden’s name so often that a strategy almost came across as a stutter.


He dwelled, too, on Americans’ economic woes, the nature of which could well lead voters to punish Democrats, who control both chambers of Congress.


And if he was rattled in the least by all the recent attention to a former girlfriend’s allegations that he paid for her to have one abortion and urged her to have another, he didn’t show it. Walker, who opposes abortion rights, emphatically denied her account and then sought to portray Warnock as the hypocrite, suggesting that Warnock’s Christian faith — he’s a Baptist preacher — was incompatible with his pro-choice politics.


I think Walker has a lot of nerve. I think he has no business in the Senate. I think he’s unfit for political office, period. But he did a surprisingly effective job of showing that while he has enormous shortcomings, he won’t necessarily come up short in a Republican-friendly year in a Republican-friendly state.


Walker’s out-of-wedlock children, Mehmet Oz’s minimal ties to Pennsylvania, J.D. Vance’s ambient ickiness — they’re marvelous grist for opposition ads. They’re priceless fodder for political journalists. And they’re surely why Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, issued his now-famous lament about “candidate quality,” sounding like a disgruntled carnivore who’d ordered a Wagyu rib-eye and was served cold Salisbury steak.


But beyond the flaws are certain fundamentals, the ones that had prognosticators talking about a Republican wave in the first place. The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has undoubtedly scrambled the G.O.P.-favorable calculus, but to what extent is unknown: There’s no tidy parallel or precedent to look to, no neatly predictive data. And the court’s ruling certainly hasn’t subtracted inflation from voters’ concerns.


I could argue that the most meaningful moment in the Walker-Warnock debate wasn’t when Walker loopily held up some sort of law enforcement badge — and was scolded by one of the moderators for breaking a no-props rule — or when Warnock made cutting reference to Walker as an absentee father but when the moderators put a simple bar graph on the screen.


It showed the results of a recent poll in which voters in Georgia were asked to name their top concern. The most common answer, given by about 40 percent of them, was the economy. The second most common answer, given by 18.6 percent, was threats to democracy. Access to abortion came in a distant third. Only 11.7 percent of respondents said that.


Walker’s task on Friday night wasn’t to make voters excited about him. It was to make them less apprehensive. It was to affirm or reaffirm for them that, whatever his lack of charisma and no matter his deficit of coherence, he’s a reliable vessel for their concerns and a viable expression of their qualms.


Were they angry about Biden’s use of an executive order to forgive billions of dollars in student loans? Walker let them know — succinctly and clearly — that he was, too. Did they feel that too many progressives demonstrated too much contempt for the police? He registered his own upset about that.


It was as if he was going methodically through a checklist of the reasons Republicans were or should be on board with him, and he did so with a discipline that made prior characterizations of him as a hapless buffoon seem selective. Was he eloquent? Please. Was he articulate? Sporadically — and that was all that was necessary to exceed the expectations for him.


He had something specifically for independent voters, too. He had unacknowledged and unapologetic conversions.


During the debate, he swerved from past statements that he opposed abortion across the board — no exceptions — to an endorsement of a Georgia law that bans it after six weeks of pregnancy but makes various exceptions, including for medical emergencies and in cases of rape and incest if a police report has been filed.


He also appeared to abandon prior claims that the results of the 2020 election weren’t trustworthy, saying for the record that Biden won. Walker might as well have been wearing a sandwich board upon which he’d scrawled: “See? Not half as kooky as you thought I was.”


Will Donald Trump fume? Does it matter? Rather than Warnock trying to make Walker answer for his alliance with the former president, Walker insisted that Warnock defend his with the current one — a dynamic that doesn’t exactly track with media coverage of the midterms. We keep wondering how much Trump will wound Republican candidates. Warnock seemed plenty worried about how much Biden would wound him.


So when he was asked whether Biden should run again in 2024, Warnock conspicuously dodged the question. “I think that part of the problem with our politics right now is that it’s become too much about the politicians,” he said. “You’re asking me who’s going to run in ’24? The people of Georgia get to decide who’s going to be their senator in three days — Monday.”


That’s when early voting begins, and if you thought Walker’s candidacy had already ended, the debate challenged that assessment. It’s not because he dazzled but because he showed up, wearing his team’s colors and making his team’s case and not getting any fresh muck on the uniform. In an era this partisan, amid this much economic anxiety, with a Democratic president whose approval rating remains stubbornly low, that may be more than enough.

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