Monday, August 20, 2012
Legitimate Stupidity By Todd Akin (August 20, 2012)
Today was one of those amazing days that could be a defining point of this election. Missouri Republican Representative and Senate Candidate Todd Akin’s amazingly stupid comments have already dominated the news cycle for a day and have the strong potential to reverberate throughout the campaign.
Akin said, in a televised interview, said that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Attempting to parse rape into “legitimate” and, presumably “illegitimate” categories is, of course, inanity. And betraying a total lack of understanding of how the female body actually works is, well, beyond inanity. It’s disgraceful…and this from a man who actually authored a bill on the subject.
Let’s tote up the ways this is highly damaging to the Republican ticket:
· This puts the Missouri Senate race in play. Akin has thus far defied calls to step down from the race, which currently pits him against the highly vulnerable incumbent, Democrat Claire McCaskill. Control of the Senate is going to go down to the wire on election night, and this was one the Republicans were confident of turning….and why not, the latest polls had Akin up by +11 over McCaskill.
· Beyond that, the national dialogue is suddenly on a topic Romney is loathe to claim as a campaign issue: abortion. Romney is already facing a 15-point gender gap with no easy solution, and putting women’s rights of any kind front and center is a disaster for him. The gender gaps widens, the Democratic base gets fired up, the dialogue displaces Medicare, jobs, the economy or whatever else Romney would prefer to focus on.
· Especially because his brand new running mate, Paul Ryan, was the CO-SPONSOR, WITH AKIN, of the infamous H.R. 3 “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which first introduced an adjective to define a class of rape, in this case, “forcible rape.” The Ryan-Akin bill sought to narrow the Federal funding exception for abortions in the event of rape to only “forcible rapes,” excluding statutory rape, and perhaps rapes involving drugs or diminished mental capacity. Horrific. (This language did not make the final version of the bill, which passed the House but went no further.)
Thus we can expect tons of questions for Romney and Ryan, especially the latter. You can find pictures of Ryan and Akin together all over the Internet, and doubtless in tons of upcoming Obama ads. (Romney and Ryan each quickly sought to distance themselves from Akin, of course.)
All on the virtual eve of the Republican Convention!