Using Semantics to Take Down Conservative Representative Todd Akin

Rachel Alexander

8/26/2012 12:01:00 AM - Rachel Alexander

Liberal pundits are declaring they have no idea what Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) meant when he referred to “legitimate rape” in an interview this past week. Akin stated, "In cases of legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." It was an awkward, inarticulate statement, but the substance of it was correct. Explaining what he meant since then would be a bit crude, so he has not been able to adequately defend himself. His attackers have used the awkwardness to pounce on him and pretend they don't know what he meant, or make up even worse explanations.

Does anyone actually believe his critics? It may have been a poor choice of words, but everyone knows Akin was referring to the distinction between what we traditionally consider rape - forcible rape - versus statutory rape and what some claim is also rape, having sex while drunk. Some women will have a one night stand while drunk, admit it to their friends afterwards, then change their mind and declare that it was rape. The FBI updated its definition of rape this year to include the inability to give consent due to intoxication. Any woman who has been drinking can now claim afterwards that she was raped. This may have opened a Pandora's Box considering how many people drink alcohol before sex. The cliché “rape is rape” no longer means what it says. The definition has now been broadened to include any woman alleging rape after she has been drinking.

As for women's bodies shutting down, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Akin meant that a woman is not going to get aroused if she is forcibly raped, making it difficult to become pregnant. Akin brought this up in order to explain why abortion in case of rape is not necessary. It is very rare that a forcible rape results in a pregnancy, so the issue of whether to permit abortion in the case of rape is mostly a red herring, used for fear mongering. Last week, GOP officials drafting the abortion ban for the party platform, declined to put in an exception for rape or incest. Tellingly, Akin's critics haven't bothered disputing Akin's real message, which is that less than one percent of rapes result in a pregnancy.

Akin immediately apologized for his remarks, clarifying later that he meant “forcible rape.” He has been running 30-second TV ads around the state apologizing. David Roney of Pro-Life Arizona notes that Akin's point was unborn babies shouldn't be sacrificed to punish rapists. Aborting children because they were a product of a rape would have taken the lives of gospel singers Mahalia Jackson and Ethel Waters. Ryan Bomberger, also born of a rape, wrote about Akin for Life News, “ I’m glad such a pro-family, pro-life stalwart, despite a few bumps and lots of scrapes, is not quitting under pressure from hypocritical pro-abortion radicals and spineless Republicans.“ Bomberger listed several crude jokes that liberal celebrities have made about rape, and asks, “Where was the condemnation of Whoopi Goldberg who, on The View, defended film director Roman Polanski’s 1977 drugging and rape of a 13 year old as not “rape rape”?”

It is troubling to see Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, the chairman of the RNC, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and conservative stalwarts like Rush Limbaugh demand the resignation of Akin. Limbaugh himself has been accused of comments that have made him vulnerable to intense criticism. It is reported that high-level GOP officials have told Akin they will no longer help him with fundraising. Many in the GOP have developed a herd mentality and are piling on Akin, asserting that no one can win without establishment support. Sadly, they are shooting their wounded to react so quickly and demand that Akin jump out of the race.

Fortunately, not all conservatives have deserted Akin. Because of the injustice of what has happened to him, Mike Huckabee has come to his defense, assisting with fundraising. It's notable that Akin exceeded his goal of raising $125,000 within a few days. Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, has put out a statement defending Akin.

Prior to Akin's misworded comment, he was leading in the polls over the Democrat incumbent, Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is considered to be the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate. If his chances are now so dismal, why is Moveon.org calling for Akin to resign? Or why is the liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century demanding that Romney drop Huckabee from the GOP convention for supporting Akin? The left is well aware that to put in a substitute candidate now would risk losing the seat, due to the lack of time left to set up a ground game and garner name recognition.

Akin is a solid conservative who voted against No Child Left Behind, despite being pressured in a phone call by President Bush. He has a 97% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. A favorite of social conservatives, he obtained a Master of Divinity degree from seminary and has co-chaired the House Prayer Breakfast. No doubt his background is why many are targeting him so viciously.

Most voters will forget about this in a week. Three days after the story broke, McCaskill pulled ahead of Akin in the polls but could not break 50%, according to a Rasmussen poll. Akin can still win, unless Republicans continue to turn on him. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The Republican Party could still try to force Akin out up until September 25, by challenging his candidacy in the courts.

When people can't freely express their opinions it is a serious matter. Why isn't an apology sufficient? Why make this into a career-ruining incident? Akin didn't say “rape is ok,” and everyone knows exactly what he meant. Akin told Huckabee that he "misspoke one word, in one sentence, in one day." Wait until it happens to you.