Just when the GOP thought they’d put a lid on Republican candidates making stupid public comments, here comes Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin with a new zinger (he’s currently vying for the Missouri U.S. Senate seat against Democrat Claire McCaskill). In a brief paragraph, uttered in an interview on Sunday, Rep. Akin managed a grammatical trifeca of irony, oxymoron and redundancy by attempting to define ‘legitimate vs illegitimate rape.’ “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that is really rare,” The Tea Party-backed Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said.
Okaaaay. So…this ‘female body knows when it’s legitimately raped’ thing…I guess it’s some vestigial trait like the tailbone and the appendix according to Akin? And Akin knows this how? Perhaps he was a female in another life and had a major shit storm of déjà vu? Nope, just an extreme right-wing nut job attempting to figure out another way to end legal abortions, never mind that he has nothing…ahem…legitimately scientific to back up this bizarre conjecture. Look closely at the phrasing: “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors…” Well, Mr. Akin, it seems to me that you understand crap about a woman’s body, considering you don’t actually own the…erm…equipment. But, as with his ilk, Akin, as the owner of a penis and testicles, presumes to know more about women’s lady parts than women themselves. Akin would have fit in quite nicely in the 19th century, pontificating on ‘female hysteria.’
Apparently Akin’s “legitimate rape” statement was just a bit too loony for the Republican mainstream. Several ranking Republicans have gone so far as to request that Akin step aside and allow them to choose a replacement candidate for the Missouri Senate race. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), chairman of the committee that raises big bucks for GOP Senate candidates, called the Missouri congressman’s comments “indefensible.” This, from a strongly anti-choice politician himself. The committee, to show how serious they are about this issue, will withhold $5 million in planned TV advertising spending in Missouri, as an anti-dangling carrot if Akin fails to resign from the race. “I recognize that this is a difficult time for him, but over the next 24 hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service,” Cornyn said. Even the Grand Poobah Senate Republican Mitch McConnell echoed Cornyn’s plea to Akin.
Indirectly responding to calls for him to resign from the Senate race, Akin told Mike Huckabee in an interview on the former governor’s radio talk show, “The good people of Missouri nominated me and I’m not a quitter. My belief is we’re going to take this one forward, and by the grace of God, we’re going to win this race.” And, of course, Akin made the de rigueur half-hearted, fingers crossed behind his back caveat that he “misspoke,” but that he had no plans to drop out of the Senate race. Take that, Mitch McConnell!
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, smarting from being bitch-slapped in the polls by women voters, called Akin’s comments “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly wrong” in an interview with the National Review online. Romney campaign officials are complaining these ideological “distractions” are taking attention away from the job creation debate — which would be understandable if Mitt Romney had strategy to offer beyond increasing tax cuts for rich Job Creators™ and more deregulation, neither of which have worked. And then there’s Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan and Akin collaborated on a House bill that would have changed the legal definition of rape to “forcible rape” in order to restrict access to the federal funding for abortions which, according to critics, could exempt victims of statutory rape. It appears that besides admitting to having a (slightly, ever so slightly) different approach than Ryan regarding the handling of Medicare and Medicaid ‘reform,’ Romney and Ryan are on (slightly, ever so slightly) different sides of the abortion issue: Romney’s campaign confirmed that a Romney administration would not seek to outlaw abortion in cases of rape or incest. I’d love to hear that same assurance pass through Paul Ryan’s lips at the Republican National Convention…considering that he has proposed legislation that would outlaw abortion with no exception for rape. I’m thinking if that were to happen, we might actually witness a case of spontaneous human combustion.