Continuing my tradition of commentary on the hot topics of days gone by…
I’ve read, reread, and yet again reread the comments made by Rep Todd Akin regarding the effects of rape on the human reproductive system. Now as far as verbal diarrhea goes, this gaffe should have had him calling up Joe Biden for advice.
Can a “legitimate rape” shut down the human reproductive system? With all my Googling, I haven’t been able to find a conclusive opinion either way – making such a blanket statement as he did – while stress has been proven to affect the ability to get pregnant – was one hell of a stretch to make during a very contentious election cycle. Whether or not he could have stated it better, he (obviously) would have been better not making that point at all.
The bigger problem here in my opinion is the reaction of politicians (more specifically those in his own party) to the statements. The fact that everyone right up to the top called for him to take a hike seemed like overkill to me. That’s the thing with the Republicans though, big spending is OK… massive government expansion is OK… (if your party has the keys to the castle that is)… but say something off the cuff that either is or could be interpreted as completely daft… Everyone shuffles away from the person who said it like they just farted in an elevator.
Take a look at the contrast from the other side, Democrat politicians who say some equally ridiculous things are rallied behind… encouraged to stand their ground whether or not they’re repentant… the thought of stepping down is only echoed by right-wing radio hosts and pundits.
I think the reaction from the “right” was a massive over-reaction – you don’t hunt deer with a howitzer. Did it weaken the party at a critical time? Sure. Did the over-reaction make that rift worse? Absolutely. I think the real fallout of this is yet to be seen… Should this guy win the election in his state, the Republican establishment may have just created their own Joe Lieberman. Back when Lieberman expressed a strong national-security stance in the face of party-line Democrats, their reaction was to kick him out of the party in favor of another Democrat more likely stick to the party-line. Lieberman fought back by changing to an Independent, ran against the DNC approved replacment, and soundly pimp-smacked the contender back to the chow line. Now Lieberman is still a Liberal – but he’s a free agent. His voters shouted loudly respect him even more for standing his ground when the rest of the establishment threw him under the bust.
Now as far as Akin, do I think he should have stepped down?
This is where my opinion diverges from the average wrapped in the flag of 13 stars Republican – I don’t think he should have stepped down, and that he was right to stick it out. He could still win the election, and once that’s taken place – he’s a free agent. Tea Party support or not, foot in mouth or not, he can’t be expected to blindly side with the establishment now. They threw him under the bus just like the Democrats did with Lieberman. The story will likely get shelved once the election has passed, and before the next it’s entirely likely that he’ll make an even bigger name for himself (as long as he avoids similar off-the-cuff statements).
Another angle to all this, and this is the part that makes me think this all could have been contrived from the start – is that the overreaction has put the annual abortion debate on the table for the mainstream media and the Statist candidates they support. Now while not all pro-lifers are Republicans, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of Republicans are in fact pro life. It’s a topic that they can approach with little hesitation, and its a topic they can easily use to put a few more holes into the election aspirations of their opponents from the left.
Take a fairly no-name candidate, get him to say something that’ll shift focus away from the whole “if we just convince people that Romney is insanely wealthy then they will overlook how bad we’ve screwed things up” angle of the Left, respond in a well calculated overreaction, and make the Left smell blood in the water… By the time the Left zeroes in on the target, it’s too late to realize that Roy Scheider is laying in wait with an exploding scuba tank and hunting rifle.
Intentionally, or unintentionally, Akin’s statement and everything that followed put an issue on the table that the Republicans can easily knock out of the park while Akin fades into the background.