This ad is called "forgiveness:"
No one actually believes that Todd Akin is pro-rape. His problem is that he spouted off biologically false nonsense and used the term "legitimate rape" while discussing the subject on television. This suggests that Akin is either terribly misinformed, profoundly ill-equipped to run a competent Senate campaign, or not especially bright. Or perhaps some combination of the three. When one is forced to begin a political ad with a "clarification" that "rape is an evil act," one is in very serious political trouble. I am utterly unable and unwilling to defend this man's political career, but I do feel empathy for him on a personal level. It must be terrible to stumble so publicly, and to have your entire political support structure abandon you in droves. I'm inclined to believe that Akin is a nice enough man, but isn't there a major distinction between accepting someone's apology for a terrible mistake, and choosing to vote for him? If he were truly contrite, and if he truly cared about this election, he would step aside of his own accord. Virtually the entire Republican Party is pushing for his ouster at this stage. The group most excited about Akin hanging on are Democrats, who will bludgeon him with this controversy for three straight months, and probably succeed in doing so. A new PPP survey shows Akin clinging to a one-point lead, but that's thanks to an unrealistic R+9 sample -- and was taken before the first attack ad is unleashed. One of the only ways for Sen. Claire McCaskill to keep her job via a Missouri electorate that wants her gone is for her opponent to implode. She angled to secure Akin as her challenger; now he's dutifully melting down. Unfortunately for Democrats, his spiral came too soon; Republicans have until 6 pm ET today to replace him on the ballot (without any court intervention). Fortunately for Democrats, Akin appears to be digging in for the long haul:
RT @BuzzFeedBen: Media buying source tells me Akin just placed 8/22-8/27 buy.
Top Republicans are engaged in a "full-court-press" to pressure Akin to leave the race, but they're running into an issue:
RT @JanCBS: Sr GOP source on the full-court press to get Akin to step aside tells me: "It's hard to reason with an idiot."
It's absolutely conceivable that control of the US Senate -- and the status of Harry Reid's job description -- will boil down to the Missouri race. Todd Akin is toxic. His own mouth made him so. Of course, he can be forgiven, but it's increasingly unlikely that he can be elected. A super majority of Missouri Republicans are disgusted with his comments, according to polls. If he refuses to step aside, Akin will prove himself to be a political actor who cares more about his tarnished career and ambition than the future of the party, or the country. The stakes are too high for conservatives to abide such selfishness and idiocy.
UPDATE - Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has inexplicably decided to prolong and exacerbate this mess by serving up a mind-boggling quote of his own:
King supports the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." It would ban Federal funding of abortions except in cases of forcible rape. Right now, Medicaid also covers abortions for victims of statutory rape or incest - for example, a 12 year old who gets pregnant. Congressman King says he's not aware of any young victims like that. "Well I just haven't heard of that being a circumstance that's been brought to me in any personal way, and I'd be open to discussion about that subject matter," he said.
Just stop. Rape and incest are real. They can and do cause pregnancy. Opposing abortion in such circumstances is intellectually and morally defensible, but denying those phenomena is insane. I don't care if he means he's never seen it "personally." That is totally meaningless as a matter of public policy. Haven't we learned to use clear, precise and careful language when discussing rape? Not all of us, it seems.
UPDATE II - A quartet of hugely influential Missouri Republicans have issued a joint statement asking Akin to drop out. The "get out" caucus now includes: Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Allen West, every Republican Senator who's commented publicly, Reince Priebus, the Tea Party Express ... This isn't about fighting "the establishment." Nor is it about abortion. It's about drawing a line in the sand and making clear what sorts of statements are acceptable from Republican candidates. It's also about not conceding an eminently winnable Senate race to a lock-step Obama sycophant.
UPDATE III - BREAKING: Akin has apparently made his final decision to stay in the race. "I want to make things absolutely clear. We are going to continue with this race for the United States Senate," he told Mike Huckabee, moments ago. Super. Akin could technically still drop out as late as September 25th. If/when he's down in the polls and penniless by that stage, it's conceivable that he'd say goodbye, but I'm not sure he's capable of making such a logical calculation.
UPDATE IV - Akin is now lashing out at his critics, accusing them of "overreacting," which indicates to me that he has no clue why people are upset. So efforts to convince him seem hopeless. Moments ago, he told Dana Loesch's radio audience that he's running "a little short on money." Go figure! The NRSC has reiterated that it will not finance his effort if he continues to move forward with his "misguided campaign."
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography