If “all politics is local politics,” it must be said: This is a bad week to be a Missourian.
No, I don’t live in Missouri. But I’m a conservative and a pro-life advocate, so thanks to Rep. W. Todd Akin, I must necessarily worry about the U.S. Senate race in Missouri, a contest that should have been an easy win for my side.
Mr. Akin thrust himself into the Hall of Fame of 21st Century Political Stupidity, an incredible accomplishment in the age of Anthony “Weinergate” Weiner, then-South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s rendezvous with a lover in Argentina, and anything uttered by Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
By using the words “legitimate” and “rape” in a dependent clause, and by opining that pregnancy is less likely to occur under traumatic circumstances because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Mr. Akin turned himself into a lightning rod of controversy.
Now, rather than help the Republican cause and the pro-life movement by claiming a Senate seat currently held by Democrat Claire McCaskill — deemed so vulnerable as to be a “gimme” — Mr. Akin’s thoughtless comment has conservatives and the Republican establishment in lock step as we chant, “Get out of the race!”
Mr. Akin has declared he has no intention of exiting the contest. He’s in it for the “long haul.”
Previously, Mr. Akin appeared to be a pretty stand-up guy. Now, he appears to be nothing more than what we’ve come to expect: an overly ambitious, self-centered pol whose personal goals are far more important to him than the values and beliefs he says he espouses.
Here’s why I think this. Had Mr. Akin stopped talking halfway through his answer to the question about abortion, (“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare”) his campaign (such as it was) would be chugging along.
That men say stupid things about how the female body works is not new. But defending the pro-life position opposing abortion in cases of rape and incest requires one to speak the truth in love.
Loving life as we do, in all its stages and through all its harrowing experiences, we believe it is wrong to inflict more harm on a woman and her unborn child because of the circumstances of that child’s conception. No pro-life advocate would force a woman to keep and raise a baby born of rape or incest (though many women do just that); we just don’t believe the correct response to an act of violence against an innocent victim is another act of violence against another innocent victim.
This is a really difficult position to explain, and because it makes pro-lifers seem extreme, it’s expected that a pro-life politician will be questioned about it. Thus, Mr. Akin should have had a ready answer that was neither inflammatory nor unexpected.
Having served since 2001 in the House of Representatives, Mr. Akin cannot be excused for making a rookie mistake. He should have known better. Though he has apologized and even quickly produced an apology commercial, it’s clear his candidacy now hurts the Republican Party and the pro-life cause he has worked to advance.
So here’s the question: Will Todd Akin turn out to be a selfless statesman who seeks to promote conservative, pro-life ideals, or will he be just another professional politician so addicted to the perks and power of a Washington, D.C., office that he’ll reject the pleas of people across the nation to exit the race and support an alternative candidate who can win?
You don’t even have to be a cynic to know how this one turns out.