“Legitimate rape” – video added
Last week GOP senatorial candidate for Missouri Todd Akin found himself at the center of a media firestorm due to a very inappropriate choice of words he made. He had been questioned about his prolife position on abortion policy, with particular emphasis placed on the hard cases, such as rape.
Akin replied that in cases of “legitimate rape” he thought the woman has a natural defense system that prevents her from becoming impregnated. This reply was so bad it actually made vice president Joe Biden look articulate in comparison.
Not surprisingly the Democrat Party has jumped all over this, using it to characterize not only Akin, but the entire Republican Party, as conducting a “war on women” via its “extreme” prolife position.
The reaction of the Republican establishment was immediate and categorical. Akin’s statement does not represent the beliefs of the Republican Party and he must resign his race immediately.
The ironic thing here is that the Dems themselves reportedly pumped $1 Million dollars into the Republican primary race in order to get Akin nominated, because they believed he would be their most vulnerable opponent. It seems their investment has paid off in spades.
But back to the issue at the center of this maelstrom, it seems quite clear that Akin’s “legitimate rape” remark was an extremely off-base way to say that the woman’s body in unable to conceive when rapes involve a lot of fear. Biologically ignorant? Yes, it is. I don’t know much about Akin, but if this was not simply a slip, and he is habitually this misinformed or inarticulate, that should factor heavily into whether someone would want to vote for him to be a US senator.
But two thing bothers me about the way this has played out. First is the level of demagoguery that has gone into this. Belief that a fear factor would play into the possibility of a woman conceiving is entirely understandable, if statistically wrong. And yet Akin’s slip has become the major meme of the Democrats this election season, with them even switching their national convention’s main theme to it.
Doesn’t this seem excessive? Women in general are at least as prolife as the general population. Romney has explicitly endorsed rape and incest exceptions, while the Republican platform calls for a human life amendment, and doesn’t mention exceptions for rape or incest, on the theory that granularity belongs to the states.
The other thing that bothers me is the completeness of the Republican establishment’s abandonment of Akin. Romney has chosen a fiscal warrior and reformer, Paul Ryan, to be his vice presidential running mate. In doing so he has signaled that he is going to make this campaign about substantive issues, and that he intends to get down to the business of making America work again should he become president. He has faced “third-rail” issues such as Medicare head-on. Predictably, he was met with demagoguery, but he has not flinched, and I would say he is prevailing and is turning the issue back on the Dems, to their great distress. Even seniors, who Democrats claim have the most to lose, are heavily endorsing Romney and his Medicare plan.
And yet on the Akin issue, Romney and company have kowtowed to political correctness. I can understand the pressure to do so. They already have been taking withering fire from the media and from Obama’s smear campaign, so I’m sure they didn’t want any more. Nonetheless I think it is a mistake to have capitulated so quickly, without parsing the issue and separating Akin’s error from his intent.
If Akin proves himself to be a capable candidate (as polls might be indicating now) and worthy of a seat in the Senate, I think the Pubs should get behind him again. If his slip is characteristic of him, then I do think he should step aside. We have about four weeks before the cut-off date for the Party to appoint a replacement.
The Dems and the media have used political correctness to chill free speech for too long. If we are going to survive as a free nation, we will need to confront and defeat that beast. Romney and Ryan have shown a lot of courage so far, regarding fiscal matters. It has served them well and I wish them well. We need the same kind of courage with regard to social issues. I believe on this issue they have fallen short.