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Herschel Walker October surprised

Herschel Walker got October Surprised overnight with an allegation that he paid for someone’s abortion. How much attention should he pay?

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Well, now we have our October Surprise! Herschel Walker, former football player, running for the Senate from Georgia, stands accused of paying for an abortion. Apparently he stands accused of many other things, that people waited for the first working day in October to break. But all that is, or should be, incidental. The real issue with his attackers is what it has been from the start. Which is that Herschel Walker stands for civilizational values, against a nominal clergyman who would appear to have his guidance from the now-destroyed Georgia Guidestones, not the Holy Bible as he claims.

Latest against Herschel Walker

Last night (Octboer 3) The Daily Beast ran a piece charging that Walker, having fathered a child out of wedlock in 2009, “urged” the woman involved to “take care of it.” We’ve heard this sort of thing before. For the record, Herschel Walker makes no compromises regarding abortion. Politico said, shortly after the Great Leak of a first-draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s, that Walker backed an “exception-free ban” on the procedure. But they merely quote him as saying,

There’s no exception in my mind.

Elsewhere he has said that’s a matter of State law, not federal.

Now The Daily Beast says they have a woman, whom they will not identify, who says she has “the receipts.” Those “receipts” include a:

  • Receipt from an abortion mill in the amount of $575 for such a procedure, a
  • Get-well card from Walker, and a:
  • Bank deposit record having the image of a check from Walker to the woman involved, amounting to $700.

Why the extra $125? Because, the Beast alleges, he used an Internet search engine to figure out how much such a procedure costs. Then he sent her a sum representing his best guess.

The Beast also says they have a witness – a “friend” who took care of her for a few days afterward.

Politico and CNBC cover the story, among other organs.

Cross-examination

CNAV offers the following in rebuttal. First and foremost, we don’t know who this woman is. Second, that bank deposit and the get-well card show only that he knew her and felt concern. Third, one does not send a check after using an Internet search engine to determine likely medical fees. If he’s going to pay for anything like this, he’ll ask, “How much?” and send that amount. Maybe he rounds it up to the nearest hundred—but the check would then have been for $600, not $700.

As for this “friend” who similarly will not identify herself: Objection, Your Honor! Hearsay!

In any event, Herschel Walker will not let this accusation stand. He said he would sue The Daily Beast today, alleging libel and defamation of character.

In saying so, Herschel Walker considers the source: Roger Sollenberger. Sollenberger has dogged Walker’s tracks all year long. He’s written a series of articles about the “secret sons” of Herschel Walker. See here, here, and here. Walker addressed this in the tweet, by embedding an image of text. Here, in case Twitter takes down the tweet or suspends his account, is that image:

Herschel Walker denies pay for abortion allegation

How hard is it to win a false-report action?

Libel, slander, and defamation are very difficult for a public figure to prove and prevail on. Courts in America (unlike, say, in the Commonwealth of Nations) generally ask a plaintiff to show that:

  1. Things didn’t happen as the defendant said they happened. (Truth is an absolute defense against a false-report action.) Furthermore:
  2. The defendant acted maliciously and with a reckless disregard for the truth,
  3. The plaintiff suffered definite harms from the telling of the lies, and:
  4. Freedom of speech would not suffer by punishing the defendant for telling the lies.

That last is the real hurdle. The weight of American case law overwhelmingly tells public figures:

You’re public figures. Welcome to the rough-and-tumble. If you can’t stand it, retire to private life.

That goes double for political candidates. So Herschel Walker really wants to show he’s willing to say on his oath that someone lied about him. If the court throws the case out on the basis of “he’s a public figure,” well, he tried. So neither the original reporter, nor his opponent, nor anyone else can say that he ducked the case and hid behind a convenient excuse. Herschel Walker, even if he doesn’t get his day in court, does get the court to back him up in a demonstration of the futility of trying a libel case when you’re a candidate for public office.

Herschel Walker has another problem

But Herschel Walker has another problem. Now his son Christian, 23, says Herschel was an abusive and neglectful father.

Immediately others re-shared earlier tweets of him supporting his father:

And one user speculated that Christian Walker had taken a bribe to turn as he has.

So what changed? The calendar changed. How convenient, again, that all this breaks on the first working day in October. This has “October Surprise” written all over it.

The “October Surprise” gambit goes back to the Election of 1980. The aptly-named Gary G. Sick alleged that Reagan-Bush campaign officials met secretly with officials from Iran in October of 1980. They urged those officials to hold onto the American Embassy hostages through the election, in return for an arms shipment from Israel, of all places. No one believes Sick, who is the Walter Duranty of the late twentieth century. (He first published his allegations in The New York Times in 1991. Walter Duranty, who made light of Stalin’s famine, also wrote for the Times.) As of this writing, Wikipedia details the allegations and the references to their ultimate dismissal.

Gary Sick coined that phrase October Surprise. Now itstands for any scandal that breaks against a candidate in the month before an election.

Is Walker responding effectively?

The most prominent local (to Georgia) commentator with any perspective on this episode, is Erick-Woods Erickson. He believed Herschel Walker was the weakest possible candidate of all the choices Georgia Republicans had. Nevertheless, they voted for him. Erickson says he’ll have Walker as a guest on his radio program, and predicts he’ll have more to say then. And he recommends that Walker give this story scant attention, and concentrate on the record of his opponent, Rafael Warnock. That record includes support, all the way down the line, for Biden’s policies, especially his economic policies. Which have brought ruinous inflation, among other ills. In other words, Erickson wants Walker to talk about something important, which is the wrecking of the economy and Warnock supporting that wrecking with his vote in the Senate.

CNAV would generally agree. Walker (and every Republican) should talk about the economy and how Democrats wrecked it. All the same, he must file the defamation lawsuit so he can say,

This is not true, so I’m suing. The courts might tell me I’m a public figure, but at least you know I’m not hiding.

Sollenberger – and his likely puppet masters in Davos, for all we know – doesn’t fool himself into thinking people will vote for Warnock instead of Walker. (Some Twitter users bragged that people should, but what do you expect?) He wants people to sit on their hands. And forget that their interests lie with a thriving economy, not this wreckage.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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