The hardest thing for a politician debating a Trumpian candidate is that the latter generally gets graded on a curve. To that end, no one watching Friday night’s U.S. Senate debate between Republican U.S. Senate nominee Herschel Walker and incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock expected Walker to surprise them with hidden policy genius, or come clean about his many scandals or overwhelm Warnock with oratorical flourishes.
Walker didn’t need to excel, he just needed to not fall flat on his face, and he managed to do that over the course of an hour on live TV, with nothing short of the balance of power in the upper chamber of Congress in the balance. Walker didn’t say anything you didn’t expect (for that matter, neither did Warnock, and if the debate proved anything definitively it’s that both candidates appeared to have prepped well). With that out of the way, let’s talk about the most important thing we all saw:
WHERE THE HELL DID HE GET THAT BADGE?! This man, who no law enforcement agency has any record of ever being a member of, reached in his pocket and pulled out something that I’m pretty sure I could’ve gotten out of a box of Super Golden Crisps in the 1980s. I’m not sure who was in charge of the camera work and floor direction over at NewsNation, the network that carried the debate live, but I needed them to move quicker. Pan in! Get tighter!
I needed to see every detail on that badge. Did it have an actual agency’s name on it and if so, which one, because its chief, director, public information officer or janitorial staff need to be flooded with questions immediately. What was it made of? Was the insignia on the front of an eagle? An American flag? Sugar Bear, of cereal fame? These are the moments that 4K television were made for.
Moderator Tina Tyus-Shaw did a good job keeping her composure and reminding Walker of the rules: no props allowed. But the fact that that even needed to be a rule, and then was swiftly ignored, was a reminder that for as well as Walker kept his shit together for most of the hour, this was no normal debate and he’s no ordinary candidate.
Early voting in starts in Georgia three days from now and polling shows that Walker has a real shot. If he wins, it’d mean replacing the first Black senator from Georgia in history with the second, the difference being the incumbent is a clergyman occupying the lineal pulpit of MLK and the other’s credentials consist of a 40-year-old Heisman Trophy, and, apparently, a badge of unknown origin.