Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Todd Akin's Comments Symptomatic of Bigger Problems For GOP

GOP officials are trying their hardest to try and contain the fallout from the reprehensible comments made by Missouri Congressman Todd Akin who is seeking a US Senate seat in a race against Claire McCaskill. Even Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice president nominee Paul Ryan called on Akin to quit the campaign. Akin has refused thus far, and he missed the deadline to withdraw without requiring court approval (or to pay the costs for redoing the ballots).

The problem for the GOP is that his comments weren't merely a misstatement or ill-conceived (as Akin himself put it on his own website - awkwardly at that). They are symptomatic of a much larger problem for the GOP. You've got Republicans who support restricting abortion to only those cases of forcible rape - or restricting federal funding for all abortions, including in cases of rape or incest.

Then, you've got social conservatives claiming that their claims that women can't get pregnant from rape and base it on research carried out by the Nazis during World War II (where they took prisoners and subjected them to gas chambers to see if stress affected ovulation).

The misogyny runs deep with Republicans. It's not just Akin. There's Kansas state Rep. Pete DeGraaf who suggested women should plan ahead for rape the way he keeps a spare tire. Indiana state Rep. Eric Turner said some women might fake being raped in order to get free abortions.

Then, there's the litany of attempts to impose onerous and invasive ultrasound procedures that would have the effect of reducing the number of abortions and abortion providers, including Virginia. Moreover, such requirements might constitute state-imposed rape on such women because the procedure isn't medically required or indicated.

Or the series of personhood amendments being propagated by Republicans across the nation that would give an embryo rights that would necessarily limit the rights of women to control their own bodies. Moreover, those same personhood amendments could seriously restrict access to in-vitro fertilization and other similar techniques, to say nothing of embroyonic stem cell research.

But perhaps the biggest sign that Akin isn't an isolated case is that Akin claims that the fallout from his comments has led to a big increase in campaign contributions although it should be noted that he bested his modest goal of $10,000:
“Donations are pouring in. Thank you for standing up against the liberal elite,” Mr. Akin wrote on Twitter last night.

A counted on Mr. Akin’s website said, as of this writing, Mr. Akin had raised $10,638 since beginning a “still standing” campaign following his remarks. On Twitter last night, Mr. Akin said his goal was hitting “$10k to fight the liberal elite.” He also posted a series of messages blaming the “liberal elite” for driving a “a lot of negativity” his way and for pushing around and otherwise intimidating those in the pro-life movement.
I'm not surprised by that.

The true tragedy is that the race for the Missouri Senate seat is as close as it is even with the furor about Akin's comments. Akin may still win the contest against McCaskill. That's troublesome in its own right and shows just how deep support for the belief system that Akin revealed in last Sunday's interview truly goes.

Nor am I surprised when Kirk Cameron comes out in support of Akin. Cameron went on CNN to defend Akin:
One defender? Kirk Cameron. The child-star-turned-evangelist was on CNN this morning discussing the remarks, and Cameron encouraged people to watch the whole video (which you can here) and then said, “[Akin] is clearly a pro-life advocate and I respect him. He said that he misspoke and that he misphrased something and that he apologized.”

Rep. Akin released a statement after the interview saying he “misspoke,” but hasn’t backed away from his remarks. Despite calls on Akin to get out of the Missouri Senate race, so far he’s staying in.

“I’m the kind of person that believes that I would like to be evaluated by my entire career and my entire life, not two words that I would misspeak and then later apologize for,” Cameron told CNN. “So he’s in a tough spot.”
The problem is that Akin didn't misspeak. He said exactly what he thought. He said precisely what his ultimate intentions are. He didn't misphrase anything. Akin said exactly what he thought. He believes that there is such a thing as legitimate rape - and his prior history about trying to impose restrictions for forcible rape are proof that this is part of what Akin actually believes. It goes to the belief that some women who are victims are rape deserved what they got - it's a combination of slut shaming, treating women as second class citizens who can't be trusted with control over their own bodies, and is misogynistic at its core.

Cameron's comments are echoed by other religious leaders, including Bryan Fischer.

In other words, if we go by what Akin has said and done over his entire political career - these words that Akin claims was a misspeak aren't. Akin meant exactly what he said. He cowrote legislation that would create the nonsensical category of forcible rape along with Ryan (but which didn't get passed because of the furor it created).

Cameron is right in one respect though- Akin is in a tough spot, along with the rest of the GOP that has wholly subsumed the social conservative agenda.

Lest anyone think that I'm not sourcing my materials, here's links to the following as referenced above:

The link showing Ryan and Akin's attempt to create a category of forcible rape (and there's a new report indicating a separate attempt by Ryan to include forcible rape in a second piece of legislation).

Bryan Fischer said that Akin's comments were right.

And here's where Akin and others got that trope about how rape victims can't get pregnant (Seattle Post going into the history).

Here's where Gawker recorded Akin's awkward website attempts to try and generate campaign contributions from this mess.

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