[original draft in Aug 2012 but never published. Was I worried that the title was incendiary and not representative of republicans? Well, if it was not accurate then, it is now.]
So Rep. Todd Akin (R-Christlandiastan) really screwed the pooch this week. We all know that rule number one for republicans is to never attack another republican. This was Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.
Apparently, the only thing that could cause a republican to break the Eleventh Commandment is when someone breaks the appearant Twelfth Commandment: Never tell the people what you really believe.
And so when Akin made his comment that women who are legitimately raped don’t get pregnant, there was a bipartisan uproar. Of course, not everyone was outraged for the same reason:
Three’s a trend, so I think it’s safe to say that a plenty of people believe the main problem with what Akin said is that, under one interpretation of the word “legitimate,” he was suggesting that some rapes are justified, or even rightful.
But the “legitimate rape” fracas is so troubling in part because it’s not a straightforwardly noxious case of a man offering his blessing to certain rapes. That would require assuming Todd Akin is some sort of rare, inhuman monster, rather than a deeply anti-abortion member of the House of Representatives, at home in the modern GOP.
Take what Akin said to its obvious conclusion. He contended that some rapes don’t really count as rape — that rapes aren’t “legitimate” or “authentic” or “genuine” unless they meet the religious right’s definition of “forcible.” Add in the junk science element, and you reach the conclusion — not unusual among abortion opponents — that a pregnancy is prima facie evidence that the fetus wasn’t conceived during a rape, and thus that rape exceptions to abortion restrictions are superfluous.
That’s what Akin was getting at — a policy issue as much as a moral and personal one. It’s why his words are a danger to the entire Republican Party, and not just to Akin himself.
I knew immediately that “legitimate” and “forcible” rape were connected somehow, and now we know. It’s all part of the right-wing fundamentalists’ willful ignorance of science and their rape of the English language in order to convince themselves that she could not have been raped because she got pregnant!
Watch as Romney bends 11 almost to breaking as he calls out Akin:
And thus I think a lot of Republicans are resting their calls for Akin to step aside either on his fatuous biological claim, that rape victims can’t get pregnant, or on an ambiguity — pretending Akin’s an outlying derelict who supports sex crimes, and thus distancing themselves from him without drawing ire from abortion foes in their base who share his actual views.
For instance, Mitt Romney told WMUR, “[Akin] should understand that his words with regards to rape are words that I can’t defend, that we can’t defend, and we can’t defend him.”
He told National Review Akin’s “comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong. Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”
Neither condemnation addresses what Akin actually said. This allows party leaders to pretend Akin might actually believe some rapes are righteous. It allows them to pretend that many, many Republicans — including VP candidate Paul Ryan — don’t share Akin’s view that rape exceptions to abortion laws are wrong. Get rid of Akin without reckoning with his worldview. And it would be instructive if Romney and Ryan had to explain exactly what part of the “legitimate rape” flap they found objectionable.
Romney disavowed Akin’s terminology without addressing the underlying meaning, and so gets a pass on breaking a commandment. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the media to ask good questions and require explanations as suggested. The media tools are too busy handicapping the horse race. Looking at issues with a “long” view (i.e., more than the current broadcast or publication) is just beyond them by design.