Well, I guess I need to wade into this story; and hopefully I won’t get mired down in the muck. I’ve got a lot of water to tread, please bear with me.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the middle of the wilderness, Rep. Todd Akin, Republican candidate for US Senate from Missouri who just recently won his primary fight went and stuck his foot in his mouth very deeply earlier this week.
Excuse my French, but because of one mis-statement, all Hell has broken loose for Mr. Akin and the Republicans.
Mr. Akin was taking part in an interview with a local reporter who asked Todd a question concerning rape and abortion. Now, it’s well known that Mr. Akin is a staunch pro-life politician, but whether Mr. Akin’s head hasn’t been in the game recently or for whatever reason, his response left the reservation in what should have been boilerplate for him. The man has been involved in national politics for at least ten years, so answering and talking with reporters should be nothing new, and especially as a candidate facing a tough race, you just have to be in the game, on guard and in control.
Instead, Mr. Akin flubbed his response… only it wasn’t just a flub, it was a gaffe extraordinaire that has painted him as an idiot, anti-woman and an election destroyer.
Mr. Akin has gone from a candidate with a reasonably good chance of beating Claire McCaskill to effectively handing her a second term on a sliver platter. That’s the way pretty much everyone on the right/Republican side of the blogosphere and political world is painting the scenario. In a rare occasion, within hours of Mr. Akin’s flub heard across the nation, conservative pundits and Republican politicians began asking for Mr. Akin to step down, to get out of the race. You see, apparently there was some sort of legal election/campaign deadline that was a day later; many people saw this as Mr. Akin’s sole opportunity to correct a grievous situation that he had created. Instead, Mr. Akin stuck to his guns and from Romney and fellow politicians to pundits down to Joe Commenter on sites like Hot Air, Red State or Ace of Spades want to metaphorically lynch him. More so because today Mr. Akin came out and said that he may well leave the race if he cannot garner enough financial support…
I’ve read a number of comments about Mr. Akin. Most of them boil down to a belief that he’s not just an idiot but an egotistical narcissist. Personally I don’t think Mr. Akin is any of those things and I believe that the perception of him as such is based in a disconnect of worldviews and perspectives, even within the socio-political ideological umbrella of conservatism.
There have been charges by some on the right that Mrs. McCaskill’s campaign did a little bit of political guerilla tactics during the primary campaign to promote Mr. Akin over Mrs. Steelman and Mr. Brunner. The belief was that Mr. Akin was/is the weaker candidate and that if he won, he’d be easier to run against in the general election. If this in fact happened and was the generally held view of Mr. Akin, it would seem to have held some truth.
Mr. Akin’s singular phrase allows Mrs. McCaskill to avoid the elephants in the room, the economy, healthcare and Mr. Obama and instead focus on the supposed ‘war on women’ that the right supposedly takes part in. Claire has money; Todd just lost more than his lunch money but his ride to school. With one phrase Mr. Akin has ostracized himself from the Republican party and the left and the Democrats are in seventh heaven. If Mr. Akin is able to stay in the race until election day, his chances and ability to wage an effective campaign against Senator McCaskill are severely hindered, if not utterly hobbled. The only thing Mr. Akin has right now is an R attached to his name and his name on a ballot. He needs donors and major supporters to remain viable.
He also needs to bring his campaign back on track, focusing on the real, important issues of the election: the economy and healthcare. He has tried to begin this process by releasing an apology and going on a couple more interviews. According to some reviews of his interviews, specifically with Sean Hannity, Mr. Akin was still showing a person whose head is not in the game, who is either truly naive, doddering or oblivious. Without money, and without solid interviews, he’s not going to even get his campaign back on the track, never mind moving again.
So, let me back track a bit and give the quote that derailed Mr. Akin (the quote is around the web but based off of transcripts of the interview by Mr. Charles Jaco from his television time slot):
“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.”
I know people who know Mr. Akin either in passing or personally. I’ve read enough and heard enough about the man over the last eight years that I feel I’ve got a pretty good read on where the guy is, not just politically but more importantly, spiritually. This I believe is the bigger, underlying issue here, and I think that most who’re excoriating the man on the left and the right are either missing the boat or just twisting reality to fit their own biases and perceptions.
On face value, the statement Todd made was clearly dunderheaded. However, with just a passing knowledge of the person, it’s clear that what he said and what he meant were two different things. One of the other charges made against him was that his comment about ovulation was complete erroneous poop and clearly pulled out of his rear.
I’m sorry, but it seems like common sense to believe that some women who are/have had an abortion have done so under false pretenses. Stating that of course is like walking on thin ice, and thus the whole reason why Mr. Akin should have stuck to his boilerplate message on abortion instead of allowing himself to be led along by Mr. Jaco. If a state has restrictive laws against abortion and you want one because you just feel you can’t deal with the results of your actions, it seems entirely plausible that you’d claim you were raped instead of acknowledging that you just don’t want the unborn child to breathe air because you can’t afford another mouth to feed or just don’t want the “hassle”. What I’ve just stated however comes off as very insensitive, even if it’s blunt and probably often true. Have a politician say that or infer it with one word, “legitimate”, and you’ve got a firestorm on your hands. Hands off women’s legal rights to kill their unborn, man…
Congressman Akin’s comment about ovulation vis-a-vis rape has been resoundingly derided as something he made up and/or is not/cannot be scientifically supported. That Mr. Akin is part of a Congressional committee on science is highlighted as to just how stupid the statement is. Clearly Mr. Akin should know better, right? Actually, I think Mr. Akin made the statement based on something he had heard and/or came across due to his time in this committee. Apparently there has been research into the topic of whether or not a woman’s body can or does try to physiologically fight against a rapist. As well, evidently the research is downright shoddy, if not a bunch of malarky. So it may not be scientifically supportable, but at least he wasn’t grasping at his own imagination. That said, it didn’t help his argument and instead just got him deeper in the doo. Come on dude, let’s leave the science hokum to Al Gore.
The truth is, Mr. Akin did not need to say anything about “legitimate” rape nor the ovulation study. Why he did is for him to know and us to wonder. But his heart was in the right place; in his desire to see all human life as being precious and worth saving. Whether conceived in an act of passion, love or violence, wanted, unwanted or unrealized, the unborn are human beings. The act of conception doesn’t change this basic scientific fact, so it’s completely reasonable to hold to the 100% pro-life view against abortion that Mr. Akin has. I hold to it too, as does my wife. Instead, it’s those who believe abortion wrong except in cases of incest, rape that I find illogical. It makes no sense to me that it’s okay to murder an unborn child at several weeks old because it was conceived out of rape or incest but it’s not okay to murder another unborn child the same gestational age because it wasn’t conceived from a rape or incest. We take the horror, shame, violence and wrong against the woman and in our effort to seek justice we decide it’s okay to kill the child because it’s also the rapists?! The convoluted reasoning of relativism knows no bounds, even within the camp of those who purport to hold conservative values, beliefs and ideas. Let’s not punish them with a baby they didn’t ask for, eh Mr. Obama? By the by, Mr. Romney and Mr. Paul immediately came out in their denunciation of Mr. Akin by stating that they have no problem with abortion in cases of rape. Rape = bad; therefore a product of rape is bad too and acceptable to kill. Oh? Not bad? But the ends justify the means eh?
And this brings us to why perhaps Mr. Akin has chosen to stay in the race and why he’s being accused of narcissism and egotism. Mr. Akin is a man of faith first, a politician second – if not somewhere down the line after husband, father, citizen, etc.
This is the point of true conflict. Mr. Akin’s blunder has exposed an irritated sore that has confounded many a person who has gotten into bed with politics, I suspect for millenia. This sore has existed for quite a while within the Republican party and there have been many politicians who have claimed or are Christians who’ve no doubt grappled with how to be a Christian and live according to what you espouse while at the same time be a politician and civil servant.
I’ve read a couple of comments from people saying Mr. Akin probably believes he’s on a mission from God. They mock him, but they’re probably right. But Mr. Akin doesn’t necessarily have to have received or believe he’s received some special spiritual calling to politics as a mission field. A true Christian is supposed to be ”on mission” every day where ever they are. It’s called being a witness for Christ. So, whether other conservatives or Republicans like it or not, realize it or not, all of their politicians who claim to be Christians in theory should be missionaries. But we don’t normally think that way. We’re used to thinking of missionaries as people who go to far away places, preaching to “ignorant savages” and living in poverty. You’re a missionary the instant you walk out your front door and a Congressman is just as much a missionary when they take the oath of office, just as a President should be when they claim to be a Christian. Yes, you’ve taken on a job that is secular, but even with rules and regulations in place, they cannot, should not be able to hide the Light.
A true Christian puts Christ first, even before politics. This doesn’t mesh very well with the world’s views of how politicians or even voters should act when it comes to politics. There seems to be this belief or at least action that one can disconnect the two or at least justify certain variances. This is relativism. This is pragmatism.
Now, I don’t deny that pragmatism can have its place within politics. There are times where compromise is not just necessary but actually reasonable. The problem however seems to be that far, far too many people who claim to be Christians invariably put their politics before their faith. When push comes to shove, whether campaigning, politicking or voting; yeah, that faith and beliefs will affect how the voter or politician may operate in general, but in the end Christ has to take a back seat so that we can vote pragmatically.
Mr. Akin has become the most recent victim of political pragmatism. The right and Republicans are trying to cannibalize him because his principled stance makes absolutely no sense to them. All they see is a political nightmare. From Michelle Malkin to Rush Limbaugh to John Cornyn to Mitt Romney, what they see is the opportunity to flip a Senate seat from Democrat to Republican slipping away and with it possibly an opportunity to flip a Presidency from Democrat to Republican.
Mr. Akin on the other hand sees himself at a crossroads and his principles founded in his faith called into question. Read between the lines. It’s there in the retraction, in the apology and in his refusal to step out of the race. Someone who gave more credence to pragmatism and politics would have immediately withdrawn. This is not the actions of a narcissist or egotist. These are the actions of a man who I don’t doubt has been on his knees in solace and with others wondering what he should do. This is why Republican leadership have been having difficulty contacting him. You ask how I know this? No, I don’t have Mr. Akin’s ear nor do I know what’s truly going on with his campaign, but my extrapolations are the only thing that make sense to me as to why Mr. Akin has acted and reacted as he has over the past five days.
When I was a teen my mother used to say that I’d make either a good preacher or a politician. I don’t know if she was speaking to negative or positive proclivities, joking or serious (over the years she’s certainly been serious about me finding some route within ministry but that has been borne more out of conviction I believe rather than personality traits). I used to respond that I’d probably get myself shot. Over the last ten years or so I’ve thrown around the idea and daydream of entering politics and I still believe I’d get myself shot – maybe not literally, but certainly figuratively. Why? Because I’ve always put principles before pragmatism, even when it’s caused me grief. I suspect that I’d find myself in similar shoes to Mr. Akin, not just because I suffer from a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease, but because I firmly believe that Christ should come before any political office I am in, even if that brings me into sharp disagreement and disfavor with my constituents or political party.
Some would no doubt say that I shouldn’t run for public office then, and to be sure I probably won’t – but who knows. That said, this is a free nation and there are no tests and very few barriers as to who can run or hold public office. Many Republicans have lambasted other conservatives, Republicans and Christians concerning Mitt Romney, that no one should hold back their vote against him because of his Mormon religion. If this is so, then the same holds true for Mr. Akin. Mr. Akin is being no more nor less than who he is. He has never hid the facts of who he is and what he believes. Yes, he misspoke, and yes it was a serious blunder, but as my step-mother always says, listen to what he means, not what he said. The right, conservatives, Republicans have allowed the left, the media, Democrats to control the narrative of the past week.
Frankly, I believe the Republican party, Republican voters and many who claim to be conservatives will be just as much to blame if Mr. Akin loses – if he decides to stay in the race – as Mr. Akin might be for having stayed in the race, much less misspeaking in the first place. You’ve hung him out to dry without even trying to fight for him. You keep kicking the dead horse. It’s time to move on. Claire is defeatable, but Tuesday afternoon so many people automatically threw up their hands and claimed defeat.
Man; I thought I was supposed to be the pessimist…
Some people seem to be able to fit their politics and how they do their politicking with their beliefs, their faith; others not so much. Maybe people like me and Mr. Akin shouldn’t be in politics; then again, maybe we’re precisely the kind of people who are needed. Maybe too we need to let the people decide and not pundits or political party bosses. If a person’s not fit for holding office, in theory he/she won’t hold an office and if they do, then that’s on the people who voted them into office in the first place.
This race as with so many is going to come down as so many often do to the undecideds, the independents, those who sit on the fence. It’s also going to come down heavily on a lot of people who’ll probably refuse to vote in the Missouri Senate race – who normally would vote a Republican ticket/for Akin - out of spite. If this is the case, I guess y’all aren’t that pragmatic after all. You’re only as pragmatic as your ire lets you be? Otherwise you’d go ahead and vote for Mr. Akin because “this is the most important election of our lives” and “we just have to vote those Democrats/McCaskill/Obama out!” As for those independents and undecideds… BRING THE DISCUSSION BACK TO THE ECONOMY! You’re the ones allowing it to be kept on “teh war on womynz”.
Mr. Akin wasn’t and isn’t “toxic”. The right/Republicans have decided to brand him as toxic and with it they’ve pragmatically whined that he’s cost them dearly politically.
What if? What if Mr. Akin somehow manages to pull a rabbit out of his hat and win in November? What then? All’s forgiven? Political probation? Continued cold shoulder?
I suspect that politically Mr. Akin has more in common with the Constitution Party then he does the Republican Party. I know I certainly do, but he also no doubt made a logical calculation, a pragmatic choice if you will, some time ago that if he were to enter politics, being a Republican was the only sound option. As I said, pragmatism has its place. It has its time too.
Mr. Akin evidently determined that Tuesday was a day when pragmatism had to take the back seat. Interestingly Republicans seem to have come up with their own take on principles Tuesday too by trying to put Todd out to the Potter’s Field. You’re only so good to the party if you can win them a seat. Winning is everything you know…
Last line of questions for y’all to mull on… What if? What if we’re meant to have six more years of Claire and/or four more years of Obama? I’m not saying God’s going to make sure Claire or Barack wins but I am saying that He will always make sure that His Will is accomplished. Maybe we get the politicians we deserve and not who we want. Maybe sometimes we get the politicians we need but not who we desire. I fully believe that the Democrats, Mr. Obama and Mrs. McCaskill are bad for this nation, but just as with the evil kings of Israel and Judah of old or the empires that attacked them and carried them off, maybe God’s trying to tell us something? Maybe we’re supposed to be doing something? Maybe voting should be more than trying to make sure that one party wins/gets beaten. Maybe we should stop letting pragmatism drive our politics and instead let our principles drive them, come what may.
Just the opinions and thoughts of a regular schmuck who doesn’t know a whole lot about politics. Maybe I’m just a naive fool. Maybe I’m actually on to something. No matter what, I’d rather be a fool for Christ than a fool for politics or the thought that this nation is more important than God.
Mr. Akin’s campaign website has more about his apology and efforts to move forward.
As it happens and for whatever it’s worth, I voted for Mr. Akin in the primary and if he remains in the race come November he’ll have my vote then too; not out of any feelings of indebtedness but because I agree with his stances, with his principles and values. I believe he’s the best man in that race as it currently stands. I can look past the statement he made in error. If you are a Republican, conservative… independent; can you?
- Claire McCaskill’s political strategy paying off (stltoday.com)
- Mitt Romney calls on Todd Akin to quit Missouri Senate race (guardian.co.uk)
- McCaskill not addressing Akin backlash (kmov.com)
- McCaskill Wants Akin To Stay In Race (fox2now.com)
- Why Claire McCaskill wants Todd Akin to stay in Missouri race (csmonitor.com)
- Akin rebuffs Romney, Republican, calls to quit Senate race – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Todd Akin Might Actually Still Win In Missouri (businessinsider.com)
- GOP Rep. Todd Akin reiterates plan to go on with Missouri Senate bid after rape pregnancies comment (newsday.com)
- GOP source: Akin in ‘parallel universe’ (cnn.com)