Republicans Hoping To Find Ways To Get Politicians To Shut Up About Rape
With the recent comments by Congressman Phil Gingrey only a day old, many in the Republican Party are wondering how they can get people like him to keep their mouths shut when it comes to rape:
Rep. Phil Gingrey’s attempts to explain Todd Akin’s rape remarks are leaving many Republicans beyond frustrated that a few in their party can’t help but insert rape into the already contentious abortion debate.
“This is actually pretty simple. If you’re about to talk about rape as anything other than a brutal and horrible crime, stop,” said Republican strategist Kevin Madden, who was a senior adviser in Mitt Romney’s campaign.
Gingrey’s lengthy explanation of what Akin meant was quickly circulated by Democrats, repudiated by medical groups, and had some Republicans smacking their heads in frustration.
And it may have added new urgency to a training program that’s already being launched by an anti-abortion group — the Susan B. Anthony list — to keep candidates and lawmakers from continually making the same kind of comments that may have helped ruin Republicans’ chances of winning the Senate.
Former Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) questioned why Gingrey was talking about the months-old comment in the first place.
“There’s no way to defend what Todd Akin said,” Bono Mack said. “You just can’t do it and you shouldn’t try to put it into a scientific context. It was a bad statement. And to try to defend it or explain someone else’s poor choice of words, it would be a fool’s errand.”
Bono Mack, who was first elected in 1998 but lost her reelection this fall, said some House Republicans don’t understand the full range of emotions associated with the abortion debate.
“It was my belief when I was in the Congress, and I tried to explain this to my colleagues: The abortion issue isn’t just about abortion. It’s about so much more. It’s about delving into what it means to women and what it means to Americans,” she said. For women, it means “a loss of autonomy. To Americans, it means government intrusion into their lives.”
Marina Ein, whose public relations firm does crisis communications, said the party needs some kind of “sensitivity training” for its candidates if it wants to do better in the next elections.
“It all boils down to whether or not the Republican Party thinks this is a problem,” she said. “If they want to make inroads with women, then they need to subject every one of their candidates to sensitivity training — not to mention reality training.”
The training would have to “educate politicians on subjects that are absolutely taboo, except to say, ‘I sympathize with the pain of anyone who goes through fill-in-the-blank,’” she said.
Madden’s advice is simply to stop talking.
“Our pro-life values as a party should be framed in terms of the culture of life,” he said. “It’s easy enough to do that. It shouldn’t be conflated with other issues.”
Bono Mack blamed the problem, in part, on too much focus on the politics of abortion instead of the real policies, especially in legislation she saw on the House floor.
It was “never about truly pushing a policy, regardless of how you felt about abortion. There were never the votes in the Senate. [They were] putting this forward to make a statement some way or another to help a particular congressman or to shore up their base. I believe it was short-sighted.”
The reality, of course, is that many in the GOP, especially it’s most conservative wings, don’t really disagree with anything that Akin, Mourdock, and Gingrey believe in when it comes to abortion. They oppose nearly all exceptions to a complete ban on abortion, with the exception of threats to the life of the mother. Their answer to women who have been raped or are victims of incest is that they need to bear the child, usually with a comment that “God intended it” or some such thing. When confronted with just how barbaric that position is, they end up coming up with ridiculous explanations for their position like what we’ve heard from these politicians. Akin, Mourdock, and Gingrey aren’t outside the conservative mainstream at all.