I have a message for Todd Akin: PUSH BACK!
In case you haven’t heard about the political firestorm that erupted over the Missouri Republican Senatorial candidate, I’ll sum it up.
When asked in an interview if he supports abortion in cases of rape, Mr. Akin gave a strange explanation, saying he had been told by doctors that in “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body can naturally reject the possibility of pregnancy.
It was not the unorthodox medical opinion, but the phrase “legitimate rape,” that got him in trouble. Even after he apologized for misspeaking.
Democrats pounced on the language, hoping to salvage incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill’s nearly hopeless re-election bid for the Missouri seat. No surprise here: classic American politics involves focusing on minutia and ignoring genuine debates about political philosophy and real issues. Obama responded with his perennial couth, using the word “slicing” to describe what Akin had done. No one criticized him for conjuring such violent images in a situation that called for elevated dialogue. But again, no surprise.
The shock came when droves of Republicans began throwing Akin under the bus. Romney, clearly not interested in adding rape to his supposed crimes in his supposed “war on women,” extended no grace to Akin, calling his comments “inexcusable.”
Ann Coulter, the Republican party’s favorite blonde, implied she would hate Todd Akin if he didn’t withdraw from the race.
These two seem to reflect a broad sentiment within the party. And if I were Akin, I’d do one of two things.
1) Refuse to apologize again (like Romney keeps refusing to release his tax records…stubbornness can be strength). Refuse to be drawn into conversations about the issue again. Galvanize Republican voters around me. Prepare subtly cutting comments for those who would try to make the race about this. Focus on beating McCaskill…which shouldn’t be hard, considering recent polls.
2) Back out, and end my political career (he’s 65, a popular time to retire, I hear), but not without using all the media attention to absolutely ream those Republicans who refused to even try to stick by my side.
If Akin simply bows out quietly, he’ll look weak, he’ll make the Republican party look cannibalistic (and weak), and he’ll still be done, politically.
So I say, push back, Todd!