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Huckabee and Akin

Byron York writes about how much the GOP hopes Mike Huckabee will help them explain to Todd Akin just how damaging his comments have been, and just why he needs to step aside.

For now, York notes, Huckabee isn't budging, and claims no special ability to influence Akin. 

I can certainly understand a principled reluctance to throw one's friend "under the bus" as it were, especially when a crowd of opposition -- across the political spectrum -- has already emerged.

But to the extent that Huckabee's larger loyalty is to the pro-life cause rather than Todd Akin, here's hoping that he comes to understand the damage Akin has caused to the pro-life movement and, more generally, to the Christian conservative part of the Republican coalition.  Akin's remarks were not just a gaffe.  They were ignorant, and displayed what certainly seemed to be a shocking insensitivity to the plight of women who become pregnant through rape.  With one remark, Akin became the archetype for every negative stereotype of Christian conservatives in general, and pro-lifers in particular.

There is a distinction between pregnancies resulting from rape and other pregnancies, laid out well by Ross Douthat.  Through his reluctance or inability to make a principled pro-life case against any exceptions (coming up instead with some hokey "medical" theory that makes the tough cases magically "disappear"), Akin violated the integrity of the pro-life cause even as he undermined its strength.

Huckabee now must choose between his loyalty to a person and his loyalty to a cause.  He should do so knowing that if Akin stays and loses the seat, the damage will spread  beyond the pro-life cause to the standing and causes of Christian conservatives in general (many of whom, in my observation, understand the damage Akin has done and fervently, if quietly, wish he would exit).  GOP primary voters not already part of the movement will doubtless think twice before either adopting the Christian conservative cause -- understandably hesitant to be associated with a group that purportedly embraces the likes of Todd Akin -- or voting for Christian conservative candidates, should Akin invoke "God's will" in order to put his own ambitions above the advancement of the principles he espouses.

And if the GOP cannot confirm openly pro-life justices or repeal ObamaCare in the event of a Romney victory because the Senate does not command a Republican majority, Republicans of all stripes, fairly or not, will hold the pro-life cause and Christian conservatives responsible for the enshrining of radical pro-choice policies into American life and law . . . a sad and ironic result that will curtail their influence within the party for years to come.

Yes, Akin did win the primary.  Had Republican voters known what he would do next, it's hard to believe he would have.

Governor Huckabee is a good man, with a following and great influence.  If he can, let's hope he uses them to minimize all the different types of damage -- actual and potential -- wrought by Todd Akin.

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