Breaking Down Todd Akin and the GOP

Monday, August 27, 2012

I don't get the GOP. This isn't the first time, but it might be one of the most critical times. Everyone knows Todd Akin made a really stupid comment about what he termed "legitimate rape." Those two words should never be in the same sentence, much less next to each another. Akin has since apologized, but the damage has been done.

The only ones more eager than Democrats to throw him under the bus were Republicans. Why is that? Well, first of all, for obvious reasons. His statement that a woman's body has ways of shutting down when raped, preventing pregnancy from ensuing, was off the wall, ridiculous, and beyond defense. Rush Limbaugh might have uncovered the second reason when he said Republicans always want to be liked and always feel the need to prove themselves to the left, which seems to cause us to eat each other alive. We jump to avoid yet another accusation of being called anti-women, racist, extreme, or whatever other term we're afraid we'll be called if we don't separate ourselves from this statement or that one.

While Akin was wrong in his comment, he was not wrong in his pro-life position. He doesn't believe in abortion, even in the tragic situation of rape. I share his position. The problem was not in where he stands on the issue, though I concede many would disagree. The problem, as I see it, was his inability to articulate his position on the issue. Then we allowed Democrats to co-opt the conversation. Again, his error wasn't his pro-life position; his error was attaching rape to the word "legitimate." Rape is rape. Period.

Nonetheless, anyone who suggests that his comment reveals him to be placing blame on a woman for rape or validating skepticism about a woman's claims of being raped is being disingenuous. Everyone knows that is not what he meant. And no matter what anyone thinks of his term in office in Missouri or his record, no one should condone someone's character being destroyed unfairly, for that would simply be another case of politics-as-usual, which all fair-minded people despise.

Granted, there's an argument to be made for his getting out of the race, which has been the steady refrain from prominent voices in the GOP--from Governor Palin, to Presidential-candidate Romney, to RNC Chair Reince Priebus, and the list goes on. This election is a must-win. Claire McCaskill must go. The GOP must capture the Senate, and we don't have the luxury of nonchalantly approaching a win. To quote Sarah Steelman, who was one of Akin's challengers in the primary he just won on August 7th, "The status quo must go." Steelman is the candidate Governor Palin endorsed and the one I, in my own way, subsequently supported from the faraway blue state of New York.

What I respected about Palin's call for Akin to "take one for the team" and step aside for the sake of that Senate seat was that she didn't pile on Akin for what he said. In fact, she wouldn't even deal with what he said at all when Greta Van Susteren asked her about it. That train had already left the station, had been sized up over and over, and its fatuity already well-established. Instead, the Governor dealt with the impact of what he said. That's the issue remaining here. His words have given Democrats fodder, furthered the left's attack on the right's respect for women, and most importantly, given Claire McCaskill a good chance to win when it looked like her chances were all but gone. For that reason, Governor Palin implored him to drop out of the race. She did not attack his character, as many others have done and are doing. She simply said that for the sake of the country, he should do what she had to do in Alaska: pass the ball. Again, I respect her handling of the situation.

Many others in the GOP have not been so gracious. They've used this situation to go after his character and do what Democrats have been known to do: attack from all angles. Now, I agree that it would seem advantageous to the cause for Todd Akin to drop out of the race. However, he has said repeatedly that he will not do so. Whether he can pull out a win, especially when the GOP has pulled out its resources, remains to be seen. My question, however, is at what point will the party establishment stop demanding and demonizing, accept that he has made the decision--however unwise it may be--to stay in this thing, and put their support behind him. If, in fact, their beef with him is that he's costing us that Senate seat, why then would they refuse to give him every available opportunity to win, since he's said he won't get out? Refusing to do so is a clear indicator that they are more interested in something else other than winning. If winning is the only goal, then why won't they help him win? Are they punishing him for not getting out of the race? But who are they really punishing? As their pleas for him to step aside demonstrate that they want him to recognize that this is bigger than he, they must recognize also that this is bigger than they. This is about winning and righting the American ship. So if they can't convince the guy to back out, they should at least help him win--if the goal is defeating McCaskill.

That seems like such a common sense approach to me, so I assumed that if the GOP was still insisting he back out of the race after he has stated again--most recently via a press conference--that he's in it for the duration, they must be planning to keep the pressure on only until September 25, hoping that he'll come to his senses by then. That makes sense also. However, today the RNC Chair said he will not be supporting Akin at all, at any point--even if the race is close.

Via Red State:

The question is: “If he stays in, is your position eventually going to change? Are you going to have to support him? The Chairman replies “No, no. No. He could be tied. We’re not going to send him a penny.”

In other words, Priebus doesn't care if we lose the seat. Yet he accuses Akin of not caring if we lose the seat. Like I said in the open: I don't get the GOP. I reiterate, I'm not saying Akin should stay in. I'm saying that for whatever reason--and people have their own opinions of how honorable or dishonorable that reason is--he has stated he won't get out, and if he maintains that position post September 25th, somebody has to put the country first.

Perhaps Todd Akin will take Governor Palin's advice and come to acknowledge that it would be best for Missouri and for America to "take one for the team." However, if he never comes to that conclusion, somebody better make the decision that we need to do all we can to win this seat, and that will mean supporting Todd Akin, like it or not. And if the GOP big wigs don't put two and two together and come to that conclusion, whose fault will it really be when Claire McCaskill is still sitting in that seat after the election?


Anonymous,  August 27, 2012 at 10:27 PM

‎[Excerpt] The intensity of the media outrage against Akin’s remark shows that this is not a scientific dispute about numbers, or the definition of “really rare.” Medical science is being replaced by political demagoguery about the issue of rape. — Jane M. Orient, M.D.

‎[Excerpt] Politicians who claim to be pro-life are often adamant about preserving an exception for rape or incest. This exception is a fig leaf over the reality of what an abortion is. Coming too close to The Question is feared to jeopardize the chance to gain political power.

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