By now pretty much everybody knows about Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for the Senate in Missouri who over the weekend trashed an 11-point lead in the polls by making one of the most breathtakingly stupid statements in the history of American politics.
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Since then Akin’s campaign has collapsed in terms of its national support…
“Congressman Akin’s comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong,” Romney told the National Review early Monday. His remarks were soon followed by calls from two GOP senators to withdraw and statements later from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the party’s chief Senate campaign strategist, meant to push Akin aside.
And more bad news…
More bad news for Todd Akin: American Crossroads officials tell National Reviewthat if Akin remains the Republican senate nominee, Crossroads will not spend anything on that race.
So no cash from Karl Rove’s stash.
Akin has until 5 p.m. today to get out of the race without having to go to court to do so. He’s said he won’t get out – he’s doing a national talk-radio tour this week explaining that he doesn’t want to give up…
“I don’t know that I’m the only person in public office who has suffered from foot in mouth disease here,” Akin said. “My belief is we’re going to take this thing forward and, by the grace of God, win this race.”
Akin’s camp can point to a Public Policy Polling survey which says he still holds a one-point lead over Democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill even after the storm’s arrival. of course, as Jim Geraghty points out, that survey is highly suspect…
Wait, the sample went from D+2 to R+9? Gee, does anyone think that a heavily-Republican sample might be why Akin isn’t trailing yet?
Anyone suspect that the Democrat polling firm might be trying to get the result they want, to ensure Akin stays in, so that he can get pummeled in November?
Meanwhile, Akin has cut an ad to apologize for what he said…
He seems like a nice guy, and it’s tempting to sympathize with him. We can all remember that first time we used a curse word around our parents and the “pucker factor” which kicked in when Mom’s face changed. To see that scenario play out over a national media landscape is very painful. You’d hate to even imagine being in such a situation yourself.
All that said, what’s important is that Republicans win that seat back. McCaskill might be the weakest Democrat incumbent in the Senate and she’s got to go if the GOP is going to retake that body this fall.
And Akin isn’t indispensable to that effort. Akin won a free-for-all of a GOP primary with 36 percent of the vote over two other pretty good candidates in John Brunner and Sarah Steelman; 64 percent of the electorate was for somebody else. In fact, a major reason Akin won that primary was that McCaskill ran almost $2 million worth of ads for him in an effort to pick her opponent; that number was actually more than Akin himself spent during the primary campaign. The ads touted Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann’s endorsements and suggested Akin was “too conservative” for the Senate – as though that would be a negative in a GOP primary.
So it’s not like he’s a particularly irreplaceable nominee. Particularly given that there are four Republican possibilities on hand who have previously demonstrated an ability to win a statewide race in Missouri – Steelman, who was the state treasurer, plus former Senators John Ashcroft, Jim Talent and Kit Bond. Any one of them would likely be favored against McCaskill in a state which two years ago held a referendum on Obamacare and saw an amazing 71 percent of the voters reject it. Anyone but Akin could run on repealing Obamacare and McCaskill is sunk; with Akin, you’ve got “legitimate rape” as the issue in the campaign.
Which obviously is the worst possible place the GOP could be in.
Akin’s statement wasn’t a brain freeze or an outbreak of Tourette’s, by the way. He was echoing something which has been out there for a while…
The assertion can be traced back to Dr. Jack C. Willke, the former president of the U.S. National Right to Life Committee. Willke and his wife, Barbara, are leading antiabortion advocates and authors of the book “Why Can’t We Love Them Both: Questions and Answers About Abortion.”
They contend in the book, first published in 1971, that “assault rape” rarely results in pregnancy because the assault traumatizes the woman and makes her body less habitable.
It’s ”just downright unusual” for a woman to get pregnant from a rape, Willke said in an interview Monday. He said studies have shown this to be true, but produced little evidence beyond a few footnotes that cite a handful of decades-old papers.
“This goes back 30 and 40 years. When a woman is assaulted and raped, there’s a tremendous amount of emotional upset within her body,” Willke said, adding that this trauma “can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy.”
“No one really knows” how often those emotional effects prevent pregnancy, Willke said, but he estimated that there are just one or two pregnancies for every 1,000 rapes.
That contradicts research published in the 1990s in the Journal of American Obstetrics and Gynecology, which found that the occurrence of rape-related pregnancies is 5%. More than 32,000 women experience rape-related pregnancy every year, the research found.
Scientists at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.,concluded in 2001 that the rate of rape-related pregnancy is even higher — 6.4%, twice the rate of pregnancy from consensual sex.
But Willke is not deterred. He said Akin erred not in suggesting that the female body can shut down an unwanted pregnancy, but in using the term “legitimate rape.”
“There is no such thing as a legitimate rape,” Willke said, adding that Akin should have said “assault rape.” The term “assault rape” or “forcible rape” makes it clear that the woman suffered some sort of trauma — the type of thing that supposedly shuts the reproductive system down, Willke said.
Willke’s claim is published in the millions of copies of his book — which has been printed in 21 languages and sold around the world and on the website abortionfacts.com.
Boiling this down, while there might be a little bit of substance or at least theory behind what Akin was saying it’s hardly enough to go on TV and attempt to make policy statements out of. And that calls Akin’s judgement – not just from the standpoint of thinking on his feet but also in filtering information so as to formulate policy – into serious question.
Look, there is an argument to be made against a rape exception to an abortion ban. If you believe that life begins at conception and an unborn fetus is a human being which should not be murdered in the womb, then you should be deeply troubled by the idea that we should sanction that murder depending on the circumstances by which the human being came into existence. After all, the baby can’t control how it comes into the world. That we should all be moved by the idea that banning abortion even in cases of “legitimate rape” like Akin stupidly called it means we’re asking a woman who just got raped to carry a rapist’s child to term and then maybe raise that child – which is behavior worthy of sainthood, frankly, rather than that we should expect of everybody – doesn’t change the fact that if you believe abortion constitutes killing kids you can’t be comfortable with it no matter what the circumstances are. This is a really hard, lousy situation we’re talking about here, which is why the pro-choice crowd likes to bring it up every chance they get.
And if you put in an exception to an abortion ban for rape victims, you’re just begging for that exception to be abused. Here’s a scenario for you – guy dates girl, guy knocks girl up, guy breaks up with girl. Now she’s stuck with a pregnancy and the prospect of bringing a kid into the world with no father, and all the attendant problems that’s going to cause in her life. And abortion is illegal – but if she then claims that the guy she was dating raped her, she can make all this go away.
What happens then, though? Does she have to go to the cops and make the rape claim? Does the guy get arrested? We already know that – as terrible as rape is, let’s not get into all of that, yes, next to murder rape is the worst thing you can do to somebody – false claims of rape are one of the worst things that can happen to somebody (see the Duke lacrosse case); it’s an entirely foreseeable unintended consequence that a rape exception would lead to an explosion of false rape claims.
We already know this, because we’ve seen it in the armed services where fraternization between men and women in uniform isn’t supposed to happen but does anyway.
So there are problems with trying to make exceptions to an abortion ban, and those problems are big enough to suggest that doing so will create chaos. Akin could well have made a case for that. Instead, he rushed out there with the idea that women have a free safety back in there who’ll keep a rapist’s sperm away from paydirt, which even if that’s true it’s hardly worth throwing an 11-point lead in the polls away on. “Off message” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
It’s inarguable that Akin couldn’t have mucked this up any worse than he has, and there’s no defending him or what he said. He’s a moron.
And if he has to go so that the GOP can claim that seat, then he should get out of the race. This is about much more than Todd Akin; Todd Akin is just another politician. He’s no Abe Lincoln or Ronald Reagan. And he should see that.
But at some point, the Republican Party is going to have to draw a line and fight this double standard whereby a Todd Akin is expected to self-immolate for having made a stupid, ill-advised and impolitic statement that he immediately apologizes for while a Harry Reid or Dick Durbin or Nancy Pelosi or Debbie Wasserman Schultz can say something just as false, idiotic and offensive, not apologize at all and go on to the next false, idiotic and offensive statement.
Should our side take a certain pride in having higher standards than the Left does? Sure. But not at the expense of allowing them to use our standards to beat us with. If we’re going to burn Akin at the stake for his diarrhea of the mouth, then maybe it’s time to demand Democrats operate on a similar standard.
Was there any consequence whatsoever to Durbin’s characterization of American troops as Nazi stormtroopers while they were busy getting shot at? None that I could see. Was there any consequence to Harry Reid’s saying the war was lost during the same period? Was there any consequence to Virginia state senator Louise Lucas accusing Mitt Romney voters of being racist? And on, and on, and on. Democrats say false, idiotic and offensive things on a constant basis and then laugh in our faces when we protest. Why? Because they know their own side won’t sanction their behavior.
Our own Tom Bonnette got video a while back of NOW president Terry O’Neill exemplifying the complete lack of any standards the Left has for their people. He asked her, while she was demanding Rush Limbaugh be taken off the air for suggesting Sandra Fluke was a slut in the midst of the ridiculous Georgetown contraceptive controversy, whether the thorough misogynist Bill Maher, who had given $1 million to Priorities USA, should have his donation returned.
Nope. Anything that helps my side I’m for. I don’t care how deep into the gutter my side goes; I have no standards, and I’m going to drag everyone else down to my level by trashing those who have standards for every case in which they fail to live up to them.
That’s the Left in a nutshell. And while I have no problem with forcing Akin out of the Missouri race based on “legitimate rape,” we need some sauce for the gander here. We need a plan to force the Left to improve their behavior to meet our standards. If shame won’t do it, then ethics charges might. Or maybe we need a Super PAC to run ads calling people like Wasserman Schultz or Reid or Durbin out for the lying pieces of crap they are.
I’m open to suggestions as to the best way to proceed. But while Akin seems like a good guy who’s too bad a politician to hang our hopes on, we’ve got to make an effort to clean up the folks out there who say worse things more often and don’t ever take them back.