From The Rachel Maddow Show

Herschel Walker talks about 150 years of college football during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, on July 16, 2019, in Hoover, Ala.Butch Dill / AP file

The problem(s) with Herschel Walker’s odd comments about trees

Last month, Herschel Walker stumbled badly trying to talk about climate policy. This week, he tried again with talk about trees. It really didn't go well.


A couple of weeks before the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, Herschel Walker issued a challenge of sorts to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. As the Republican candidate put it, the two Georgians should have a “Lincoln-Douglas discussion,” exploring the merits of the climate and health care package, so that voters could “see the difference” between them.

Of course, the original Lincoln-Douglas debates were in 1858 and lasted three hours. One rival would speak for 60 minutes, followed by the other speaking for 90 minutes, concluding with a 30-minute rebuttal.

If Walker thought it’d be a good idea to discuss the details of the reconciliation legislation in such a forum, he was mistaken. NBC News reported on the former football player’s latest criticisms of the new law.

“They continue to try to fool you like they’re helping you out, but they’re not,” Walker said Sunday at a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Sandy Springs, near Atlanta, days after President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. “They’re not helping you out, because a lot of the money is going into trees. You know that, don’t you? It’s going into trees. We’ve got enough trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?”

Walker’s remarks were first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He stood by the comments on Twitter last night.

Let’s unpack this a bit because this helps underscore why GOP leaders are worried about whether the party’s Senate nominees are really prepared for prime time.

Right off the bat, it seems the climate crisis is an issue Walker should probably avoid talking about. The Republican tried summarizing his thoughts on the issue last month, and the result was 140 words of gibberish.

What’s more, the idea that “a lot of the money” in the Inflation Reduction Act “is going into trees” isn’t true. The Democratic measure invests $369 billion in climate and energy policy, which includes $1.5 billion in grants to state agencies and non-profit organizations “for tree planting and related activities.”

One might quibble over the meaning of “a lot,” but of all the investments in the law, 0.4 percent goes to trees.

But what I found most interesting was Walker’s dismissive attitudes toward trees. “We’ve got enough trees,” the GOP candidate said. “Don’t we have enough trees around here?”

The funny thing is, that’s not what Republicans are supposed to say. On the contrary, as Democrats pushed a variety of measures to address the climate crisis, many GOP lawmakers in recent years have become enthusiastic proponents of the Trillion Trees Act.

As the name implies, proponents endorsed conserving, restoring, and growing 1 trillion trees worldwide as a way to help address carbon pollution.

In other words, when Walker rejected Democratic efforts to address the climate crisis, he simultaneously also rejected his own party's response to Democratic efforts.

Do you ever get the feeling the policy tutorials for the first-time candidate aren’t going especially well?