Does Todd Akin Represent a New Republican Low?

Bill Maher makes a throwaway comment during the opening sequences of his “CrazyStupidPolitics” show that suddenly seems very apt.

Maher is describing watching from the sidelines as the Republicans go through the process of searching for new leaders over the last few years. He describes the process as illuminating, resulting in the revelation: “There is no bottom, I thought Dan Quayle was the bottom 20 years ago.” I’m sure Maher will do a far greater job than I of tearing into the man trying to make himself the “new bottom” of the Republican Party. Forget W. Forget Palin. Forget Bachmann. Step forward, Rep. Todd Akin, a man whose views of birth control, abortion, and rape would be comically inept were they not so utterly, incomprehensibly offensive.

Rep. Todd Akin (via The Raw Story)

Akin, only recently selected as a GOP Senate nominee in Missouri, said in an interview on Sunday morning that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy. The presenter was pushing Akin to explain his no-exceptions policy on abortion, specifically with regard to cases of rape:

First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare. 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 on the rapist and not attacking the child.

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This was immediately, and rightfully, lept on by national news as well as drawing heavy criticism online. Akin rushed to release a hasty apology:

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.

Akin seems to share an all too common problem with the likes of Palin and Bachmann. He simply doesn’t think politically. If the other offensive remarks he has made just this week are anything to go by, he has absolutely no notion of the political consequences of the statements that come tumbling out of his mouth.

Late last week he gave interviews pushing for voter reform, opposing free school lunches for some of the state’s poorest children, and comparing student loans to stage three cancer. Let me say that again — all of those attacks on reason and decency were made in the last seven days.

Akin’s latest (and far and away most offensive) comment will no doubt be picked apart by others in the blogosphere. I don’t have much to add on the specifics of Akin’s views of rape and abortion, other than that I obviously condemn them.

What concerns me is that he is still in a position to say such things. As I’ve already mentioned, Akin has already made three other sackable offenses this week — how has he not been removed? How has he not been pressured to stepped down? It used to be that politicians were very careful about what they said in public — no doubt some may have shared Akin’s views, but no would dare be so candid. Even the staunchest of Republicans would still carry out the political process with an air of respect for their opponent, their voters, and at the very least themselves.

It seems that the last ten years has seen that system thrown out and replaced by a system which sees people who shouldn’t be running a street corner lemonade stand running for high office.

Efforts to foster a more respectful environment within politics have failed, at least as best as I can tell. The extremes have become so polarized; there is no political left, there is no moderate right — apart from the Democrats. The system needs radical and systematic change. I would be reluctant to put in checks or tests for office for obvious ethical reasons, but it should be far easier to remove or at least punish people. When someone runs for election to any position, they are essentially trying to get a job. They are trying to convince voters that they can do it better than the other guy. Why, then, does it seem that the least suitable people, with the lowest qualifications and the least practical experience, continually get elected.

Voters have to vote for someone, but it is the senior members of the GOP who chose to back Akin with not just logistical and ideological support but hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds. Was there really no one else?

Why is there no chain of command? Who is Akin’s GOP “boss”? Why can he not be thrown out of the Republican party? Some of the answers to these questions are the result of years worth of apathy and mistrust in the political system that seems to have resulted in the Tea Party. Why is no one in the corridors of power within the Republican party leaning on Akin to resign? Hell, why has he not resigned himself out of the utter shame he has brought on himself, his political party, and his state. Politicians in other countries have lost their position for far far less than Akin, usually pressured to resign to senior party leaders. The US political system and especially the Republican party need to get their houses in order.

Starting with Todd Akin, shame of Missouri.

About Mark Turner

Mark Turner was born and raised as a Catholic in the North East of England, UK. He attended two Catholic schools between the ages of five and sixteen. A product of a moderate Catholic upbringing and an early passion for science first resulted in religious apathy and by mid-teens outright disbelief.

@markdturner

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    “but no would dare be so candid.”

    The candour is a good thing though, right? If there’s one thing worse than someone who believes this crap and says so, it’s got to be someone who believes this crap and keeps it quiet.

    • http://twitter.com/markdturner Mark Turner

      I think in an extreme case such as Akin you’re right. But I can think of several examples of people who believe some crazy stuff but have not acted on it and gone on to do great things. Francis Collins is a good example, Sir Isaac Newton also. Obviously I’d rather they didn’t have these insane aspects to their character, but in some cases I’d be willing to let it slide. I can’t use that argument for Akin though, there is no upside to his character.

  • Tainda

    As a Missourian, just so ya know, Rush Limbaugh is the shame of Missouri lol

    Akin is running a damned close second.  I have MANY Republican friends who are going insane because they won’t vote for him now and are ashamed of his stupid comments.  I told them “Par for the course my friend” hahaha  

    On the bright side, because of this comment, McCaskill is going to kick his ass lol

  • Guest

    No, I think he, like others, shares a common problem of not thinking in the world of Appormation.  That world of the IPad app, the immediate, lingering statement.  Today, a person can be defined forever by one mistake, one thing said wrong.  Say the wrong thing, say it based on the wrong side of the aisle, and you’re done.  Toast.  Over.  He’s history.  Now, of course, these things have been kicked around before.  I’m reminded when Whoopie Goldberg tossed about the whole ‘well, there are different kinds of rape, aren’t there’ when she and others were defending Roman Polanski.  This was, obviously, in response to the quesitons some had about why so many people (including the victim) were willing to let bygones be bygones where Polanski was concerned.  What Goldberg said caused a bit of a stir, the idea that some rape may not be on par with other rape.  But it went away.

    But Akin is trying to defend pro-life in a culture that, at least at the tops of the cultural heap, is passionately pro-choice.  Sure he is a politician and not a talk show host.  But still, the MSM, the Pop Culture, Higher Education - these are all clearly pro-choice, and there is no way in hades that the are going to let this go.  Other non-pols/talk show hosts have suffered similar fates when going against the ideological grain. Add to that the obvious benefit to his opponents or various ideologues for keeping it alive, and he’s done.  It’s the 21st century witch hunt: depending on where you stand on issues, your entire life may be reduced to unwavering condemnation based on a sentence or a couple words.  It’s because we are so tolerant, diverse, and enlightened don’t you know. 

    • Vend Tana

       Well said. I know absolutely nothing about this guy except the rape comment. Why should I condemn him based on one statement alone?

      He has the right to be pro-life. He has the right to say something stupid. We’ve all done that! I am so glad that everything I say isn’t immediately tweeted to the world.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      If this is his view, his life should be reduced to unwavering condemnation, by virtue of this one statement.

      He is wrong. Wrong according to most people’s ethical standards, and absolutely wrong in a medical, factual sense.

      If he wants to start repairing the damage, he needs to formally reverse himself. He needs to say, “I was wrong; there is no medical evidence that pregnancy is less likely to occur in the case of rape; I let my passion about this matter overwhelm my better judgment. I’m sorry, and I apologize to my constituents.”

      If he does this, then he should not be judged forever for a single statement. Otherwise, it isn’t a statement at all, but a reprehensible opinion that people can very reasonably hold against him in a substantial way.

      Note that admitting he was wrong and apologizing does not require him to stop opposing abortion, even in cases of rape. We should tolerate a range of philosophical views in our politicians. But we should have zero tolerance for politicians who utilize factual errors for political gain.

      • amycas

         Thank you, that would be a real apology. The notpology he gave sounded like he was trying to say that he “accidentally” said something…like he made an innocent freudian slip or something. You can’t talk about a subject for five minutes and then claim that the entire five minute talk was an accident.

      • nakedanthropologist

        This.  If I could “like” you a thousand times for this statement, I would have.  You said what I was thinking, onl.y you phrased with far better than I ever could have.  Thank you C Peterson.

    • amycas

       What he said about rape is not a one time “mistake.” It’s not like he meant to say something about the economy and accidentally said the phrase “legitimate rape.” The fact that he uses that phrase at all tells me he’s not someone who can make laws to protect victims of abuse, and the fact that he would use “legitimate rape” as an excuse to withhold medical treatment from rape victims, tells me that he’s not someone who should be making laws on women’s issues. He has the right to be pro-life, he has the right to speak his mind, and we have the right to criticize him. We have the right to vote him out of office and say that we don’t want him representing us.

    • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

      I see a huge difference between a comedienne with whom I disagree, and a congressman who sits on the House committee on Science, Space and Technology, but spouts medical misinformation and disrespects all women.

    • TiltedHorizon

      “It’s the 21st century witch hunt: depending on where you stand on
      issues, your entire life may be reduced to unwavering condemnation based
      on a sentence or a couple words.”

      If words have such power then imagine what effect a proper apology would have.  

    • RobMcCune

      It’s not merely Akin’s choice of words but the sentiments he expressed. 

      If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

      You may have missed it, so I’ll break it down. First by “legitimate rape” I take it to mean he meant “really raped”, implying that a lot of women lie about it. Second his horrible misunderstanding of anatomy and reproduction. 

       

      But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something.

      Third he tries to erase women who were made pregnant by their rapist, and treat the subject like it is hypothetical.

      Let’s see why would this guy trivialize rape victims especially those who were made pregnant by their rapists?

      But Akin is trying to defend pro-life in a culture…

      Yeah, and he failed. Akin could have said he feels sympathy, but still believes that the child deserves to exist and that is it.  If he really wanted to defend pro-life culture he should face the reality of the situation, namely that rape victims will be forced to carry their rapist baby to term.  Instead he tries to rationalize his way out of it with victim blaming and bad biology

    • Piet

       Troll

  • Me

    In America, unlike Britain you cannot be thrown out of a political party for stupidity.  In most states if you are registered as a member of a certain party and file the paperwork and filing fee the party cannot kick you off the ballot.  If you win the primary the party can’t remove you, but they can keep their distance. 
    While I don’t live in Mo, I live close enough to it to know there are many residents who think like him.  When I drive their I often am bombarded with anti-abortion billboards and bumper stickers that say you can’t be a christian and be pro-choice.  Akin could still win this thing.  I also think that unless he drops out the GOP will come into rescue the campaign.

    • http://twitter.com/markdturner Mark Turner

      It’s a tough call between ensuring democracy is free and open to all, and having some notion of a hierarchy within parties to control people like this. It is very important that anyone can stand for election, and I certainly wouldn’t advocate any changes that restrict that, but I do think there is some scope for having more powers to punish people like Akin. I can forgive inappropriate remarks, followed by apologies – we all make mistakes. However, Akin’s rap sheet looks like he’d trying to get out-palin Sarah Palin.

      Obviously it is very different, but in the UK to run for even a local council seat you register to become a member of a party. As part of that process you agree to a set of rules that is drawn up by that party. If you break those rules, they can and will kick you out. There is nothing to stop you standing as an independent, but that is very hard because you have zero support.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mobyspenard Michael Moby Spenard

    You can’t use shame as a motivator for changing behaviour when the GOP wears their shame as a badge of honour

  • Reginald Selkirk

    The Romney campaign has hastened to distance themselves from Akin’s remark, and has stated that the Romney-Ryan ticket will not seek to ban abortion in cases of rape. But what if, after winning the election, Romney is incapacitated and Ryan gets elevated to the rpesidency? Paul Ryan supports Personhood

    • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

      It’s not like you can trust what Romney says, anyway.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    If you could get thrown out of the Republican party for being stupid or crazy, there would be very few remaining.

    • Antinomian

      I think it’s a condition of membership…

    • SeniorSkeptik

       Unfortunately Romney has caved to the Republican Right on every issue. Pro choice as a governor, now anti-choice. Pro gay rights as a  governor, now anti gay rights. He even caved in to Bryan Fischer and fired his gay communications director when  Bryan raised the roof.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Why, then, does it seem that the least suitable people, with the lowest
    qualifications and the least practical experience, continually get
    elected.

    And why do questions not end in question marks? It seems the whole world is going to heck in a handbasket.

  • rhodent

    It absolutely does not represent a new low, because there’s nothing new about it:

    “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape
    occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” – Federal judge James Leon Holmes, 1997.

    “The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the
    juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get
    pregnant.” – N.C. State representative Henry Aldridge in 1995

    “It is almost but not quite impossible to become pregnant on the
    basis of rape. The odds are one in millions and millions and millions.
    And there is a physical reason for that.  Rape, obviously, is a
    traumatic experience. When that traumatic experience is undergone, a
    woman secretes a certain secretion, which has a tendency to kill sperm.” – Pennsylvania state representative Stephen Freind, 1988

    Akin is far from the first Republican wingnut to peddle this nonsense.  He is merely the most prominent…thus far.

    • smrnda

       Wow, great medically accurate terms like ‘juices’ and ‘secretes a certain secretion.’

      • Reginald Selkirk

         Almost a classic. If he had said, “secretes a secret secretion,” that would top it off.

    • amycas

      What scares me is that a lot of voters believe this crap. My mother being one of them. This is what she taught me, that the violence involved in “actual” rape (she never taught me about the more common “acquaintance rape” which almost never uses violence) prevents pregnancy.

      • smrnda

         You might want to ask her for the actual biological process or reasons for why this occurs and then ask her for a few sources. I’ve found this tactic works pretty well in demonstrating to people that their ideas are 100% nonsense. Pretend you buy them and ask for the fine print.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Akin apologizes

    I made that statement in error. Rape is never legitimate. It is an evil
    act,” Akin told former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in a radio
    interview. “I used the wrong words in the wrong way.”

    His comment goes beyond word use; it’s not like he accidentally said the wrong name, or forgot to say “not.” He somehow came out with an intact thought based on completely fictitious underpinnings.

    • Stev84

      His so-called “apology” is totally fake. He meant and still means what he said. It fits perfectly with everything else he has ever said on the topic of abortion and his general views on women and people. He is only sorry that he was criticized for it.

  • Thomas Farrell

    I remember watching the evening news one evening in the 80′s as the reporter calmly explained that republican senators had that day stood on the floor of the United States Senate and called for all gay men in the country to be rounded up and put in concentration camps to die.

    Speaking as a gay man, I think some moron making a stupid remark about rape doesn’t hold a damned candle to senators outright proposing that millions of innocent citizens should be rounded up and put in concentration camps to die. So no, it’s not a new low. It’s not even close. It’s just their current misogynistic norm.

  • Johann

    Hell, why has he not resigned himself out of the utter shame he has brought on himself, his political party, and his state.

    Because he speaks for and has the support of tens of millions of people around our nation. The old saying about “getting the government we deserve” comes to mind.That aside, it’s actually a pretty convoluted situation. As things stand right now, the national Republican leaders are mostly trying to distance themselves from Akin and a few are saying that he should step down, or be removed.

    The Democrats don’t want him to be. Of the three Republicans in the primary, he is the one they wanted to run against precisely because of his special, special views.  Before his remarks, he had a comfortable lead in the polls – now it’s not quite so clear, and as a bonus the ugly, knuckle-dragging misogyny of the Republican Party and the anti-choice crowd is highlighted once again.

  • http://twitter.com/ftsor ftsor

    Honestly, I’m glad that people like this seem incapable of watching their tongues. I would rather know what’s actually going on in their heads. 

  • Sayegirls

    “Why is no one in the corridors of power within the Republican party leaning on Akin to resign? Hell, why has he not resigned himself out of the utter shame he has brought on himself, his political party, and his state.”

    Let’s face it…he’s not being sacked or reprimanded  because deep down, most of the hierarchy within his party, and most Repub voters agree with him. I know I’m painting Republicans with a VERY broad brush here. I don’t agree with most of what either party says, nor do I affiliate with either of them. I am registered as an independent voter. But for the most part, you’d never hear such idiocy coming out of the mouth of a Democrat. Just sayin’. 

    • MV

      I don’t find it surprising that they were said out loud by a Republican candidate for the US Senate.  Anyone who does has not been paying attention. 

      The only thing I find somewhat surprising is that there has been so much blowback against his remarks.  That there is apparently a line that you can’t cross, at least sometimes.  And that Republicans are pressuring him to step down from the race.  Of course, I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that he might not win a very important race and the deadline to drop out is very soon.  And everything with the actual content of his positions.  Yes, that must be the case.  /sarcasm

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, who listens

    trust me, there will be another new low. and another. and another after that. we’ve only begun the decline in this country. 

  • TheZeroElement

    He has views a-kin to most republicans. No surprise there.

  • Gregory Lynn

    His problem is not that he doesn’t think politically. 

    His problem is that he believes in a just world where if something bad happens to you, it’s because you deserve it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/freeman.molenaar Charles Raymond Miller

    Todd Akin represents the dumbing down of politics to a level that is impervious to logic, reason, and science. He is a symbol of so much that defines GOP: white male privilege, science denial, and oppression of “others”. His allies? His staunch supporters? Paul Ryan is one, who cosponsored 8 anti-choice/anti-contraception bills in the 112th Congress.

  • king_damond01

    I can’t believe this guy had the balls to even say “legitimate rape”. It’s sad that there are people out there that are going to vote for this guy.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Speaking as a rape victim, this entire ordeal makes me sick. 

    But I guess If you’re stupid enough to believe in life at conception and birth control=abortion, then this would make sense to you. 

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      Baby_Raptor, I didn’t know you suffer from such an experience. Very sorry to hear it. :-(

    • nakedanthropologist

      It is only recently that I have begun adding my own comments to Mr. Mehta’s blog, but I have been a lurker for some time.  However, I am a great fan of your comments – not only here at FA, but also at Libby Ann’s blog and Permission to Live.  I’m so sorry that you had to go through such a traumatic experience, and if you ever want Revenge (!!!) – I’ve got the egg cups, grapefruit knives, regular knives……….ah…sorry, I got on a bit of a tangent there (rape is a trigger issue with me as well).  Anyways, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think you’re wonderful (based on your comments) and that even though there are horrible people like Akin in the world, there are also people like you, Hermant, my mother, and I who are willing to fight back for the rights of all people – male or female – with equal passion and veracity.

    • chanceofrainne

      The same for me. I was raped almost 8 years ago but hearing about all this? It could’ve been yesterday.

  • http://twitter.com/moother moother

    I cannot agree that Akin’s words were “offensive” in the slightest. 

    This guy has been living in a box with his head up his ass for his entire life and my integrity doesn’t allow fools like these to offend me at all.

    He just makes me laugh and laugh just like I did when I read Charles P. Pierce’s Idiot America.

    The rest of the world laughs at USA USA USA.

    • imokyrok

      I’m afraid that is true. Conversations abound with “did you hear about xyz in the US? Where do they find these crazy people?!!!” It’s said with a laugh, but also with a lot of wide eyes and shaking of heads in dismay and pity for the victims of the ignorance and/or lack of empathy under discussion.  

  • https://www.facebook.com/GentleGiantDK GentleGiant
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750428174 Paddy Reddin
  • Margaret Whitestone

    Is this a new low?  Not really. Akin is just one of countless Republicans who think women who have sex without the express intent of procreating (which includes using any form of birth control) are “sluts”,  that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest,  that it’s perfectly acceptable to have doctors lie to women and jam probes up their vaginas “for their own good”, etc, etc.  Women aren’t human to these people, but walking wombs that need to have the government tell them what to do because they’re just too stupid to figure out anything on their own. 

  • EivindKjorstad

    The sad thing isn’t that guys such as this one exist. The sad thing is that a well-educated, democratic society exists, in which guys such as him get elected into positions of power.

    • chanceofrainne

      Well-educated? You must not have interacted with many Americans recently.

  • nakedanthropologist

    Rep. Akin’s comments are so increadibly offensive that it truly defies logical explanation.  In all honesty, how can someone that immeasurably ignorant be elected to a high political office?  Not only does this shame the Republican Party, but also the state of Missouri.  This increadibly stupid man was elected to office by the people in that state – its enough to make any decent human being want to vomit.


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