Missouri Rep. and Senate candidate Todd Akin truly is the gift that keeps on giving. You remember Todd Akin, don’t you? If not:
“If it’s a legitimate rape the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
This comical-if-not-spoken-by-a-U.S.-Representative/Senate-candidate-who-was-actually-being-serious claim about the super powers of the female reproductive system to identify and destroy rapist sperm instantly made Todd Akin a household name. The national GOP was quick to condemn Akin for his comments and urged him to withdraw from the Senate race, threatening to withhold support if he stayed in. Even Mitt Romney (after a several hour delay to check which way the wind was blowing) joined the chorus. For the GOP, Akin’s disaster was a political opportunity. Throw Akin under the bus, get him to withdraw from the race, then claim that the GOP is a moderate party that doesn’t tolerate extremist views.
But like every movie villain that ever hatched a “fool-proof” scheme, the GOP’s plan contained a fatal flaw of their own making. The problem? Todd Akin is pretty much mainstream in the current GOP.
“But Foster,” I hear you thinking, “believing women have a magic rape defense system in their vaginas that can identify unwanted sperm is not mainstream, even in today’s batshit insane Republican Party.” And I am sure you are correct, even though the “rape doesn’t cause pregnancy” meme has been floating around anti-choice circles for decades. But Akin’s views on abortion are nearly identical to most Republican politicians.
Take”legitimate rape.” Many Republicans have been using this and similar (“forcible rape” “assault rape” ) language in an attempt to redefine “rape” to cut down rape exceptions to abortion laws. For example (from the above link):
The most prominent example of the peculiar effort to downplay rape in order to decrease access to abortion cropped up in the U.S. Congress earlier this year. Sponsored by New Jersey Republican Chris Smith, H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” would have rewritten the rape exception in federal abortion-funding bans from the language in the Hyde Amendment. Henceforth, according to the bill, there would be exemptions only for something called “forcible rape.” (Presumably, this is the same thing Willke called “assault rape” and Akin called “legitimate rape,” as opposed to what Willke called “consensual” “statutory” rape.) After a public outcry, Smith retreated from his first draft of the bill and reinstituted the Hyde language, though an additional provision was added later to clarify that the bill will “not allow the Federal Government to subsidize abortions in cases of statutory rape.” Akin and Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan were co-sponsors of the bill, along with 225 others. The bill passed the House with all Republicans and 16 Democrats voting for it, but then died in the Democrat-controlled Senate. President Obama had pledged to veto the bill.
So what is “legitimate rape”? Here’s your answer in song:
Todd Akin doesn’t believe in exceptions for rape in abortion law. This is definitely not a mainstream viewpoint in the United States, but it is becoming mainstream for elected Republicans. VP candidate Paul Ryan to name one doesn’t believe in exceptions and the national Republican party doesn’t include exceptions in their 2012 platform.
Todd Akin also refused to cooperate with the GOP’s master plan by staying in the race. Far right groups like the Family Research Council “enthusiastically” came to Akin’s defense, as did Republican household names such as Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich.
So rather than being seen as fringe and extreme, Akin’s comments instead highlighted just how far to the right the conservative base has dragged the Republican party.
If only Todd Akin could keep his mouth shut……
In an interview with the Kansas City Star published today, Akin didn’t have any new discoveries on the workings of the female reproductive system to talk about, so instead he chose proper feminine behavior as his topic:
“I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent,” Akin told the paper. “She had a confidence and was much more ladylike (in 2006), but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that’s because she feels threatened.”
Wait, what? The Senate candidate who made the “legitimate rape” comment, who apparently thinks women have fairies in their uterus to identify and destroy rape sperm just decided to call his opponent unladylike? Is this satire? Hell, “ladylike?” Is it the 1950’s?
That sound you just heard was the collective facepalming of every national GOP operative. From TalkingPointsMemo:
National Republicans are keeping a steely distance from Missouri Senate nominee Todd Akin once more after he said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) wasn’t “ladylike” in their last debate.
“Decline to comment,” said a spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
“I think it’s best if the NRSC weighs in on these questions because we’re so focused on the presidential,” an RNC spokesperson said.
The saddest commentary I can provide on the state of politics in this nation is the fact that this man stands a good chance of winning a US Senate seat.