In 2006, then gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin was asked whether or not she would support abortion in instances of rape. Her answer?
“I would choose life.”
Notice the manner in which Governor Palin responded here because this is key.
She didn’t drone on. She didn’t complicate matters by spinning or bloviating. She spoke plainly and clearly that she would always err on the side of life.
Now contrast what Missouri GOP Senate candidate, Representative Todd Akin said in a TV interview airing Sunday:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in a clip posted to YouTube by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin added: “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 on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
After the inevitable firestorm erupted, Akin tried to walk back his foot-in-mouth moment:
In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year. I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.
There are some good conservatives who are trying to push back and are defending Akin’s comments. I understand their positions and I even agree with some of their reasoning, which I will cover below; but I do not and cannot come to the same conclusions as they do.
The first bit of pushback from the right was the general response…why do we always eat our own? Why don’t we fight back and unite when our side is under attack? I agree with this basic premise, however I do not think the application is universal.
For instance, when someone is lied about or smeared, when their record is distorted and a false narrative is being pushed about them. At times like this, I believe it is essential for conservatives to rally and push back and fight because the source is a lie or a distortion.
Here, however, we have a self-inflicted wound. We can see the footage and can see for ourselves that Rep. Akin did in fact say these words. I don’t believe we should support stupid statements and bad votes just because the guy who made stupid statements or bad votes has an R next to his name. I think it is essential that we say, “No, that quote or that vote does not represent my position and I will not be tied down to it.”
The next response I came across was that what Akin said wasn’t all that bad compared to the wide variety of stupid things Democrats have said or that next to the disastrous record of McCaskill and Obama, a bad soundbyte paled in comparison.
Again, I agree with the premise. Democrats have said a lot of stupid things and McCaskill and Obama’s records are nightmares.
But the difference here of course is that McCaskill and Obama have a press that salivates to defend and cover for them and destroy any challenge to their maintaining power. The right does not have this.
Furthermore, do we really want the campaign to be about what is and is not legitimate rape? Really?
And when the left brings forth an ocean of women who got pregnant from rape who look into the cameras with either wounded or angry expressions talking about how horrified they are that the validity of their trauma was being questioned…what then?
The ads almost write themselves: “My name is Samantha and when I was 15, I was raped by my uncle and got pregnant. The experience traumatized me in ways I cannot even begin to describe…and yet Todd Akin believes that pregnancy cannot be the result of rape. So I guess I should take comfort that my rape was not considered “legitimate” by Mr. Akin, right?”
And now let us consider the overflow effect. Congressional and Senatorial candidates will be asked to go on the record as to whether or not they’ll shun Akin and his asinine comments. The GOP Presidential nominee’s campaign has already issued a statement disagreeing with Akin.
Akin will become nationally radioactive at that point and the Senate seat, and quite possibly the chance to retake the Senate, will be gone.
Oh and by the way, if you’re busy talking about what is and is not legitimate rape in this the most important election cycle of my lifetime instead of why Obama and McCaskill pose a continued and growing threat to our Constitutional Republic, you’re losing.
I know some will argue that I’m jumping the proverbial gun and that I should wait to see how this plays out. But, see, I cannot come up with a scenario where this issue gets diffused on its own over the course of the next few months. Instead, I see it going national as the ultimate in distraction campaigns, re-igniting the so-called war on women line from the left and taking attention away from our most imperative goals, which are defeating Obama and retaking the Senate while keeping the House.
Akin’s presence in the race threatens all three objectives.
As for the rush, Republican strategist Patrick Ruffini, who also recommended that a new nominee be subbed in for Akin, pointed out why we cannot wait: Akin has until Tuesday at 5pm to drop, so there is a fair amount of urgency here. moga.mo.gov/statutes/c100-… — Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) August 20, 2012
Akin has until Tuesday at 5pm to drop, so there is a fair amount of urgency here. moga.mo.gov/statutes/c100-…
— Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) August 20, 2012
I want to make it perfectly clear for those reading this article that I speak for myself only on this. This is my opinion. But I believe it is necessary for Todd Akin to drop out of this race post-haste.
We still have a chance to right this situation and defeat Claire McCaskill. We still have a chance to retake the Senate.
Please, Mr. Akin, for the sake of this election and for the sake of our Republic.
Please step down.
UPDATE (h/t Steve Flesher): Claire McCaskill spent $2 million on Akin. Per WaPo:
No wonder Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill wanted to run against Rep. Todd Akin, even investing in his GOP primary victory two weeks ago by spending $2 million on ads that described him as “too conservative.” Missouri Republicans saw that as a plus, just as she’d hoped.
UPDATE 2 (h/t Steve Flesher): There’s a growing chorus of voices calling for Akin to pull out of the race: