Todd Akin’s Rape Remarks Causing Angst Among Republicans

National Republicans aren't at all thrilled with Todd Akin right now.

The comments by Missouri Senate candidate Congressman Todd Akin, where he asserted that women’s bodies prevent victims of “legitimate rape” from becoming pregnant, are causing some Republicans to worry that he may have put control of the Senate at risk:

Rep. Todd Akin’s damning statement that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant is just the latest in a string of unforced errors by the GOP Senate candidate that has Republicans fretting about his chances of beating Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

And a loss in Missouri would almost certainly quash the party’s hopes of reclaiming the Senate majority.

In just over a week since securing the GOP nomination, Akin has doubled-down on likening student loans to socialism, questioned the value of voting rights laws, called for the end of the federal school lunch program and then — in an interview that made national headlines — openly speculated about the consequences of “legitimate rape.”

It’s no wonder why McCaskill was more than happy to assist Akin’s primary campaign with an ad hailing him as “the true conservative.”

In a span of 12 short days, the six-term congressman’s performance has confirmed the worst fears of Republicans while breathing a burst of fresh hope into McCaskill’s underdog bid.

There’s now a burgeoning sense among anxious Republicans and cautious Democrats that Akin is handing McCaskill a ripe opportunity to climb back in a race that should be close to over. At least one public poll since the primary has shown McCaskill within the margin of error — a position she hadn’t seen in months. And if Akin fumbles his shot at a race that GOP operatives felt supremely confident about just a month ago, it’s difficult to see how the party converts the four pickups it needs to wrest back Senate control.

“For God’s sake,” one Missouri GOP operative lamented Sunday after Akin’s rape remarks. “DEFCON 5. Panic for the rest of the ticket. Major intervention needed.”

On the national scene, the Romney campaign has distanced itself from Akin as have candidates ranging from Jeff Flake, who is running for Senate in Arizona, George Allen, candidate for Senate in Virginia, and Sarah Steeleman, who came in second to Akin in the recent Missouri Primary. There has already been talk among conservative activists, and extensively this morning on Morning Joe and replacing him with another candidate, presumably either John Brunner, who came in second in the primary or Sarah Steeleman who came in third. The deadline for Akin to do that without being liable or any costs to the state is tomorrow, and Akin could also drop out before September 25th but in that case he’d have to cover the costs incurred by the state in reprinting ballots and resetting voting machines. While there has been speculation that there will be a tremendous among of pressure on Akin to step aside, the preliminary word from people in the know in Missouri is that he’s unlikely to do so, and there’s really nothing the party can do to force him off the ballot. So, unless he has a change of heart in the next 24 hours, the GOP is likely stuck with Todd Akin in Missouri, something that has many Missouri GOPers fretting:

Mark Reardon, an influential conservative radio host in St. Louis was more dire: “Just catching up on this @RepToddAkin stuff. Congrats to @clairecmc for winning re-election.”

For other GOP operatives and political players, Akin’s opinion on rape was just the culmination of growing uneasiness with a campaign that appears to be at best undisciplined and at worst reckless and unwilling to heed outside advice. Akin’s son is running the campaign, and his wife is seen as the candidate’s most influential adviser.

“I think there needs to be professional help brought in to at least make it appear like he is listening to people outside his immediate family,” observed the in-state GOP operative. “There’s lots of questions about who is driving the ship.”

A coterie of Republican consultants was emailing and texting one another Sunday night about a potential movement to push Akin aside — though one cautioned that theory was more emblematic of behind-the-scenes hand-wringing than a practical move. Akin could not be forced from the ballot but could voluntarily step aside and allow the party to nominate a replacement. The latest he could do so under Missouri law would be Tuesday.

A Jefferson City-based Republican said the greater concern is that Akin is unaware of the political damage he’s inflicting to himself.

“He likely doesn’t understand the severity of his comment, and his response was weak. No Republican official or operative has any close bond with him, so no one will defend him. He sounds completely out of touch,” said the operative, who asked for anonymity to protect client relationships.

Two sources said even top Republican candidates and leaders in the state are shaking their heads and scurrying for distance from Akin. One Columbia-based operative said several calls were placed this weekend to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Mitt Romney’s campaign about the mounting concern over Akin.

“One mused about putting him in a closet for three months,” said one source with ties to GOP leadership in Jefferson City.

Asked to assess the level of worry, one Republican elected official replied, “Most have moved past worrying to conceding.”

Akin isn’t necessarily even getting a lot of support in the conservative blogosphere. Some, like Erick Erickson, are saying Republicans need to stop panicking and get behind Akin, but others, like Ed Morrissey, are far more sanguine:

Can Republicans replace Akin, if they so choose?  Apparently they can — but the deadline is tomorrow.  Of course, deadlines didn’t matter when Robert Torricelli became a political pariah in New Jersey, but there are a couple of differences.  First, it involved actual corruption, not a case of foot-in-mouth disease, and second, Torricelli was a Democrat.  If Republicans want Akin off the ticket, they’d have to act quickly, which means it won’t happen at all.

That means that Missouri will probably see a lot of debate over “legitimate,” and Republicans had better hope that Akin can legitimately change the subject soon.

As I noted yesterday, the polling currently shows Akin with a fairly comfortable lead over Senator Claire McCaskill. The RCP average has him at +5.0, and the most recent poll, from SurveyUSA, had him leading by eleven points with strong support among women. This is the only poll that’s been taken since the primary, though, so it’s unclear whether or not it might be an outlier. Indeed, I think we can be fairly sure that polling companies are going to be all over the Show Me State over the next couple weeks trying to figure out what might happen in the wake of these comments.

Before yesterday, I would have said that Akin was favored in this race largely because of the fact that Missouri has, slowly but surely, become far more of a red state than it used to be. While John McCain’s victory there in 2008 was very narrow, the GOP has captured the state in each Presidential election since 2000, and other than the 1992 and 1996 elections, had won the state in every election since 1980. Roy Blunt won a decisive victory in the 2010 Senate election, replacing Republican Kit Bond, and that same year won control of six of the state’s ten Congressional Districts. More importantly, the polls have shown for months now that McCaskill was in trouble regardless of who the GOP nominated. Now though, as Nate Silver notes, it’s quite possible that everything has changed:

No two controversies are alike, and we’ll have to wait for polling data to see what impact this has on the race. But based on some loose historical precedents, the remarks could be enough to swing the polls to Ms. McCaskill.

In August 2006, Senator George Allen, then the Republican incumbent in Virginia, was videotaped using the term “macaca” at a rally, which was interpreted by some as a racial epithet against a staff member for his Democratic opponent, James Webb.

The polls quickly shifted against Mr. Allen. He had led by an average of 12 points in the three polls conducted just before his comments. But his lead was whittled down to just two points in the three polls conducted just after the remark, and Mr. Allen eventually lost the race by about 10,000 votes.

Last February, in another instance of apparent racial insensitivity, the Republican candidate Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, a former United States representative, released an attack ad against the Democratic incumbent, Debbie Stabenow, that was deemed offensive by Asian-American groups. Mr. Hoekstra’s standing also declined in the polls. He had trailed Ms. Stabenow by an average of eight percentage points in three polls conducted in late 2011, before the ad’s release. But the gap averaged 18 points in two polls taken just after the commercial was released, although it has recovered some since.

These episodes in Virginia and Michigan, which produced a net swing of about 10 percentage points in the polls against the candidate involved in the controversy, appear as though they may represent fairly typical cases.

(…)

If Mr. Akin lost a net of 10 points in the polls to Ms. McCaskill because of the remark, he would be trailing her by five points in surveys rather than leading her by about that margin.

It can be easy to overrate the importance of scandals in the first few days after they occur. Many voters will vote along party lines almost no matter what, and others will decide based on factors like the economy or an incumbent senator’s voting record.

Nevertheless, my view is that insensitive comments concerning rape are especially likely to be deemed inexcusable by voters, and that the swing against Mr. Akin could be larger than the average of 10 percentage points from similar events.

Akin’s comments are also reminiscent of comments made 22 years ago by Clayton Williams, the Republican candidate for Governor in Texas running against Ann Richards. Talking to a reporter, Williams said that the weather was like rape, “[i]f it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.” Needless to say, Williams, who had been leading in the polls, quickly started falling behind Richards, who went on to win election as the second female Governor of Texas.  Is this what will happen to Akin? Only time will tell, but I tend to agree with Silver that he’s likely to pay a price for this in the polls. Additionally, you may well see national Republicans and SuperPACs distancing themselves from him even further by refusing to invest heavily in the state, instead using their dollars in more fruitful races like the Connie Mack v. Bill Nelson battle down in Florida. If that happens, then Akin’s biggest advantage over McCaskill, money, will likely disappear.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens, of course. I am doubtful that Akin will be persuaded to drop out of the race in favor of Steeleman or Brunner, but one has to believe that phones are ringing across the country among top-level Republicans trying to figure out what to do about this, because given the way the polls are going  this one seat could determine who controls the Senate in 2013.

Update:  National Review’s Robert Costa spoke with Mitt Romney about Akin’s comments, and his response was rather blistering:

In a phone interview this morning, Mitt Romney told National Review Online that Representative Todd Akin’s recent comment on rape is “inexcusable.”

“Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” Romney said. “Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”

(…)

“I have an entirely different view,” Romney said. “What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it.”

Is this a sign that Boston is going to take the lead in putting pressure on Akin to step aside? I’m not sure, but if anything is going to happen it has to happen very quickly.

Please follow and like us:
FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Congress, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. J-Dub says:

    Finally the Republicans are defining their party rather than letting the Democrats define them.
    Get the message out! You can’t get pregnant by legitimate rape!

  2. C. Clavin says:

    “…causing some Republicans to worry that he may have put control of the Senate at risk…”

    Maybe what some Republicans actually need to worry about is that their quest for domination over the reporductive organs of American women is radical and extreme and they really need to focus on other things that are more critical to America than limiting the rights of women.
    But you are right…at the end of the day it is all about power for them…control of the Senate…and over women.

  3. I would have thought that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was overplaying her hand, trying to tie this to Romney/Ryan, but if this bit is true, they have trouble:

    “Paul Ryan, was one of more than 200 Republican cosponsors of a piece of legislation that would have narrowed the definition of rape.”

    In a couple minutes googling I couldn’t find that original vote.

  4. mantis says:

    Thank you Tea Party, for your many gifts.

  5. mantis says:

    @john personna:

    In a couple minutes googling I couldn’t find that original vote.

    It was H.R. 3, the “forcible rape” bill.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    We’ll have to wait and see what happens, of course. I am doubtful that Akin will be persuaded to drop out of the race in favor of Steeleman or anyone else, but one has to believe that phones are ringing across the country among top-level Republicans trying to figure out what to do about this, because given the way the polls are going this one seat could determine who controls the Senate in 2013.

    I believe that his “thinking” is probably consonant with at least a third, and manybe half, of the Republican Party. He’s polling 11% ahead of McCaskill, the voters are probably going to put that moron in the Senate. I

  7. MBunge says:

    This is a very interesting situation. Once you get into the Beltway Club, you get a pass on just about anything. Akin isn’t in the club yet, however, and there’s a superficial genuflection toward feminism that’s very strong in Beltway Culture. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if the polls don’t go south on Akin.

    Mike

  8. @mantis:

    Pretty nasty.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    So, unless he has a change of heart in the next 24 hours, the GOP is likely stuck with Todd Akin in Missouri, something that has many Missouri GOPers fretting:

    Serves them right. Ever since the primary, I have been fretting that I was likely stuck with him.

  10. C. Clavin says:

    @ JP…
    Ryan and Akin were both co-sponsors of these bills…there ain’t a lot of room between them.
    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr212/text
    http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h3/text

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I believe that his “thinking” is probably consonant with at least a third, and manybe half, of the Republican Party. He’s polling 11% ahead of McCaskill, the voters are probably going to put that moron in the Senate.

    Here in Washington Co, it is more like 2/3, and yeah, you have a pretty accurate opinion of the avg rural Missouri voter. We do like living in the State of Misery.

  12. CSK says:

    Akin’s an unmitigated jackass, indeed a jackass of epic, even Shakespearean proportions, but I was thinking that his comment might actually boost him with Missouri voters. I hate to repeat myself, but remember that Rick Santorum, who promised that if he were elected president, he’d talk to the American people about the evils of contraception for Christians, won by a colossal margin in Missouri’s meaningless presidential primary. So maybe they like that sort of stuff.

  13. Joe says:

    John Brunner was second in the primary, not Sarah Steelman.

  14. Me Me Me says:

    @john personna
    In addition to narrowing the definition of rape, Ryan co-sponsored – along with Aitken! – a “personhood” bill that says a fully-fledged citizen is created as soon as the sperm says howdy to the egg.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line

    Insanity.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    “…Hey girl, I know I’m only 42, but my ideas on women’s rights are over 500 years old…”

    From this website…very funny:
    https://twitter.com/PaulRyanGosling?tw_i=236491220480847874&tw_e=screenname&tw_p=tweetembed

  16. Bleev K says:

    And some people still think the election is about the economy. Since none of the two candidates has any idea how to fix the economy, I think I will go with the one that’s not coming from the middle age.

  17. mantis says:

    @Me Me Me:

    In addition to narrowing the definition of rape, Ryan co-sponsored – along with Aitken! – a “personhood” bill that says a fully-fledged citizen is created as soon as the sperm says howdy to the egg.

    Ah yes, the bill that, if passed into law and enforced, would start putting some women who suffer miscarriages in prison for criminally negligent manslaughter.

    Hell, they are already trying to do it without such a law.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK:

    I was thinking that his comment might actually boost him with Missouri voters.

    Only the Bible Belt Republicans (read “rural”) Citified “fiscal/tax policy” Republicans will not view this positively. This might very well cost Akin, St Louis and suburbs, KC and suburbs, and suppress the margin of victory in places he should win handily, Springfield, Jefferson City, Cape Girardeau…. Add it all together (this with other far right posaitions he has taken) and he could be in trouble.

    I emphasize, could….

    Suddenly, I am interested in this race again.

  19. Me Me Me says:

    @Manits

    I also think that one of the consequences of that bill is that every time a woman who works at the Pentagon or the CIA has sex, she can’t go to work again until her next period starts, because I’m pretty sure that bringing an unauthorized person into those facilities is a felony. She just couldn’t afford to run the risk.

    On the upshot, she gets to tootle around in the HOV lanes.

    And, of course, the IVF industry gets shut down in its entirety.

  20. Murray says:

    Todd Akin, one of the most brilliant minds of the 13th century.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Me Me Me:

    And, of course, the IVF industry gets shut down in its entirety.

    So much for the GOP focus on jobs….

  22. legion says:

    One of the hallmarks of Republican philosophy in the last decade or so has been harping on their constituents’ fear of “the other” – terrorists, dark-skinned people, gays, etc. What people haven’t noticed (and I am only now realizing is that there’s a deep pocket of the GOP – especially in the South – that has been trying to define _women_ as “the other” in terms of justifying taking away their rights of reproductive decisions and even basic self-determination. This is something that needs to be hauled out fully into the light of day, before a lot of people’s lives are destroyed…

  23. stonetools says:

    As Doug would put it, the Republican voter is getting the candidate they deserve. Mr. Akin is simply honest about the beliefs held by the anti-science, anti-reproductive rights voters that the Republicans have been courting for four decades now. Typically, the Republicans have wanted candidates to hide such beliefs, but sometimes the mask slips.
    My understanding is that Akin has made many such outrageous statements, and the Democrats are going to try to pin every one of those statements to the forehead of Akin and the national Republican Party. Well, may be we should elect people on the basis of what they believe and say.

  24. Rick DeMent says:

    Pro-lifers have a quandary. If you believe that life begins at conception (which I do) and you believe that that life should be given full rights under the constitution (I don’t), then you have to believe that how that life is conceived is irrelevant. You simply cannot walk away from the fact that your views will force some non-zero percentage of rape and incest victims to become impregnated against their will especially if you’re going to outlaw the morning after pill (which you have to do if you really believe that conception life with a full bill of rights). Rape or incest cannot be an exception to the idea that abortion is murder. The only reason I can fathom that rape or incest gets a pass is because if they didn’t the pro-life position would be a political non-starter.

    In regard to Todd Akin the only thing that “person-hood” supporters can take issue with is his biology fail which to a real person-hood supporter is really a side question. I mean he is wrong about it … but that’s not why Romney is backing away. He is backing away because he doesn’t want people to think he would force a victim of rape or incest to be forced into taking the child to term which is the only logical conclusion of an anti-abortion stance that is based on the belief that life begins at conception and that it should be granted full rights under the constitution that that moment.

    The GOP will need to reconcile this fact soon unless they think that “person-hood” support is on the upswing. There are too many pro-life supporters that depend on the trinity of abortion exceptions (rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother) to make their view palatable to anyone with a lick of common sense. On the other hand if “person-hood” support is on the upswing then why back away from the comment, it doesn’t matter rape victims need to bring those baby’s to term … it’s the only moral choice.

  25. Commonist says:

    Subhumans gonna subhuman. Since Romney is 100 % weather wane, him deciding he is currently in anti-Akin mode is very telling.

  26. Facebones says:

    It’s important to remember that as idiotic as Akin’s comments are, he is hardly alone in this line of thought. It’s a handy bit of sophistry that anti-abortionists and Christian groups use to get around that whole rape & incest exception. Examples are in the link below.

    http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08/rep-todd-akin-wrong-not-alone

    Anyone remember Fay Boozman? He was running for senate in Arkansas in 1998 when he opined that women couldn’t get pregnant from rape thanks to “God’s little protective shield.” (And again – why do republicans hate science so much?)

    And while it’s nice that Romney can read a poll and condemn Akin, there’s a good chunk of his base that believes exactly the same thing.

  27. stonetools says:

    From the point of view of the national race, Ryan may spend the next few days discussing the finer points of the human reproductive system rather than his views on the economy.

  28. @Rick DeMent:

    The GOP will need to reconcile this fact soon unless they think that “person-hood” support is on the upswing.

    The GOP uses “life” and “personhood” because that makes it seem non-religious, but they are really talking about ensoulment:

    Ensoulment is a religious concept referring to the moment at which a human being gains a soul, whether newly created within a developing fetus or pre-existing and added at a particular stage of development.

  29. Jen says:

    There are an (in my opinion) astonishing number of supportive comments on his Facebook page. Yikes.

  30. (Obviously egg and sperm are alive, but they are never suggested for protection because nobody believes them ensouled.)

  31. @Rick DeMent:

    There are too many pro-life supporters that depend on the trinity of abortion exceptions (rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother) to make their view palatable to anyone with a lick of common sense.

    I must say I’ve never gotten the “and incest” part of the trinity. Since rape has already been covered, the “and incest” can only refering to consensual incest, and while squicky, I’m not sure why that would legitimize an abortion any more than any other form of consensual sex.

  32. mantis says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I must say I’ve never gotten the “and incest” part of the trinity. Since rape has already been covered, the “and incest” can only refering to consensual incest, and while squicky, I’m not sure why that would legitimize an abortion any more than any other form of consensual sex.

    Indeed. If anything, it gets into the debate over genetic screening and abortion. Beyond the societal taboo of incest, inbreeding causes a higher rate of birth defects. If the incest is consensual between say, first cousins, then the only justification for abortion–from an otherwise “pro-life” perspective–is to prevent a birth with a higher probability of congenital defect. If that’s ok, then why isn’t screening for and aborting non-incest-related pregnancies that show other defects?

    Of course, I’m pro-choice, and have seen firsthand how certain awful diseases can give a baby a very short and painful life, I’m ok with abortion for these purposes. But I don’t understand how pro-lifers are ok with incest exceptions.

  33. anjin-san says:

    “I have an entirely different view,” Romney said. “What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it.”

    Hmm. Ryan has partnered with Akin to reduce women’s rights. If Akin is so wrong, why is Ryan on the ticket?

  34. David Wainwright says:

    @john personna: It took me some time to find it, but the bill was known as the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R 3), and was introduced by Chris Smith of New Jersey on January 20, 2011. The initial bill, which Paul Ryan did support, prohibited federal funding for abortion except in very specific cases. I attached a link to the bill.

    Instead of the standard rape/incest exception, the bill only allowed funding “if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.” By the time the bill passed the house, the language had been changed to the more standard exemption for “if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.”

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c112:1:./temp/~c112xq5iU9

  35. CSK says:

    @Murray:

    Please don’t insult thirteenth-century thinkers by comparing them to this imbecile. Roger Bacon gave us empirical thinking.

  36. Scott F. says:

    @MBunge:

    Once you get into the Beltway Club, you get a pass on just about anything. Akin isn’t in the club yet, however, and there’s a superficial genuflection toward feminism that’s very strong in Beltway Culture.

    Mike –

    Akin’s already in the Beltway Club – he serves on the House Committee on Science (!?!) Akin is apparently immune to Beltway subversion.

  37. C. Clavin says:

    @ anjin-san…
    That is a chain of logic that Republicans are seemingly unable to link together.
    I think the reason they can’t is that they are radicals on a fundamentalist mission…Republicans en masse have extremist views regarding women (yes, even the Republican women) and the place of women in society. If you follow Republican policies to their logical conclusion you end up in the 19th century. Hence the motto: “Take America Back”.

  38. Scott F. says:

    @legion:

    there’s a deep pocket of the GOP – especially in the South – that has been trying to define _women_ as “the other” in terms of justifying taking away their rights of reproductive decisions and even basic self-determination.

    To be clear, there are quite a few women in that deep pocket of the GOP and it’s not all women who are “others”. The “others” are only those feminist women who’ve forgotten their place.

  39. Commonist says:

    But remember that time when that democrat said…

    Said…

    Said something. No doubt it was just as bad.

  40. stonetools says:

    So the Romney campaign will have to spend the next two days discussing reproductive rights. Ryan fllipflops :

    The policy stance on rape exemptions is a shift for Ryan, who has said in the past he opposes abortion even in the case of rape and incest. Romney, on the other hand, has supported abortion rights in those cases as well as when the mother’s health is at stake.

    LINK

    Good times for Democrats.

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @Me Me Me:

    In addition to narrowing the definition of rape, Ryan co-sponsored – along with Aitken! – a “personhood” bill that says a fully-fledged citizen is created as soon as the sperm says howdy to the egg.

    And IIRC Romney endorsed either this bill or one like it. It’s Etch-a-Sketch time. I wonder if Chigago already has the ad in the can?

  42. stonetools says:

    Akin’s already in the Beltway Club – he serves on the House Committee on Science (!?!) Akin is apparently immune to Beltway subversion.

    This, to me, may be the most troubling aspect of all.How can a scientific illiterate serve on such a committee? Should there be siome sort of minimal threshold for membership, such as acceptance of high school biology?

  43. mantis says:

    @gVOR08:

    And IIRC Romney endorsed either this bill or one like it.

    Did he really? Personhood bills would outlaw in vitro fertilization, which Romney’s son Tagg and his wife have used more than once (and two other sons reportedly have as well). Would Romney really endorse the criminalization of the procedure that gave him grandchildren? That would be a fun topic for the debates.

  44. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @David Wainwright: Ah, yes, the “pregnant female” bill. It is almost as though one were describing livestock… Good time, Republicans, good times.

  45. MattT says:

    @Rick DeMent:@Rick DeMent: I am always interested to hear from thoughtful people with your perspective. Can you answer a hypothetical:

    An adult male has a medical condition. He cannot survive without being physically linked to Rick DeMent for 9 months. For this person to survive the two men must go everywhere together, while linked by tubes via which Rick DeMent’s organs sustain him. At first this is not very uncomfortable for Mr. DeMent, only causing frequent nasuea and vomiting. But as the condition progresses the equipment DeMent must wear to support the man becomes heavier and more encumbering, until in the last few months his movements and activities are considerably limited. The physical side effects increase as well, including hormonal changes that affect Mr. DeMent’s body and mind, in some cases permanently, as well as other long term side effects. The man is not really a bad sort, though for some reason he occasionally kicks Rick in the gut at unpredictable and inopportune times.

    I’ll spare Rick the choice between going through labor or scars from a Caesarean, and won’t try to analogize every physical impact nor the emotional issues that often result when a woman puts a child up for adoption, or other possible social/emotional effects on a woman of carrying a baby to term.

    If Mr. DeMent volunteers for this duty, I think we can all take our hats off to him. But – and here’s the hypothetical – can Rick legally or morally be conscripted into this duty, even if he’s the only person in the world with the right “match” to support the man? After all, the adult man with the condition is undoubtedly a person, and will not survive without Rick’s cooperation and sacrifice.

  46. michael reynolds says:

    My money’s on Akin to win.

  47. Brutalfacts says:

    This election will not be about the economy when push comes to shove, I have stated that all along. Since the dim watt voters (see low information) have no clue that this is an issue today (because they don’t start paying attention until after Labor Day unless there is a “Dancing With the Stars” or “American Idol” airing that gets in the way) its up to the Obama Campaign to push this with all they have linking the entire Republican party to the policy.

    Until Republicans are severly punished at the ballot box this will be an issue. The only way the GOP will return to sanity is when they are dispatched to the electoral wilderness.

  48. MattT says:

    Before anyone responds: it was probably a mistake to overpersonalize my hypothetical toward Rick, and I didn’t mean it to sound like some kind of attack. I am really not sure, given his stated positions, what his answer would be. I just think that hypothetical is an interesting way to view the abortion dilemma.

  49. michael reynolds says:

    @Commonist:

    But remember that time when that democrat said…
    Said…
    Said something. No doubt it was just as bad.

    As you imply, Democrats just don’t say terrible things with anything like the regularity of Republicans. Some people may wonder why that’s the case. So, I thought I’d explain: It’s because we aren’t ignorant, hateful assh0les. That’s why.

    I hope that helps clarify matters.

  50. James in LA says:

    This was not a gaffe. Akin said what he meant. And there is precious little daylight between Ryan and Akin. Mitt Romney’s campaign just went from impossible to laughingly so.

  51. stonetools says:

    @Commonist:

    But remember that time when that democrat said…

    Said…

    Said something. No doubt it was just as bad.

    But, but, but both sides do it! There must be a time in recent memory when the Democrats not only nominated a cretin like Akin for elective office, but placed him on a committee that oversees the US policy on science and technolgy! I’m sure Doug and JJ can tell us all about it…

  52. J-Dub says:

    Could this be used as a legal defense?

    “It wasn’t rape, your honor, she got pregnant. Actually, it’s more of a blessed event than a violent crime.”

  53. stonetools says:

    @MattT:

    My guess is that folks like Rick don’t go in for the kind of logical thinking that it takes to understand your hypothetitical, so I anticipate no response…

  54. Rick DeMent says:

    @MattT:

    Not sure which of my opinions you are referring to … I’m on the pro-choice side.

    But this is hardly a hypothetical. I mean I don’t donate bone marrow and people die due to lack of a donors all the time. I don’t think i should be conscripted into anything like that. But you can broaden out the question. Just by living in the US and consuming the amount of resources that I do every day I deny the same to people all over the world and they die as a result of not having access to my surplus resources that i fritter away on non essential spending.. Should we be forced to give away all of our money and resources until everyone is living at a baseline standard of living. No … I’m not actually not much of a a communist (of course I might think very differently if because of accented of birth I were living in the third world country where that was a real threat to my life).

    I also don’t believe that a fetus should be given full on human rights at conception because a fetus is not a human in any substantive way other then sharing DNA. Once a fetus starts to exhibit higher level brain waves then I start to feel different that there should be some rudimentary policies in place but even then I’m not willing to put that life in the same constitutional category as a living breathing human. My issue is what makes the best public policy and life begins at conception and is therefor entitled to full rights as a human is bad public policy.

  55. J-Dub says:

    @stonetools:

    From the point of view of the national race, Ryan may spend the next few days discussing the finer points of the human reproductive system rather than his views on the economy.

    Let’s hope so. I’d love to hear from the person-hood supporter.

  56. Ben says:

    “For God’s sake,” one Missouri GOP operative lamented Sunday after Akin’s rape remarks. “DEFCON 5. Panic for the rest of the ticket. Major intervention needed.”

    Someone should let this genius know that DEFCON 5 is the opposite of panic. It means that all if clear and we’re at our lowest level of readiness. DEFCON 1 is what he was shooting for.

  57. Rick DeMent says:

    I think you may have been thrown when I said that i believe that life begins at conception, which is factually correct but it’s a distinction without any actionable consequences. I mean my dog is alive, so is a virus, but we don’t grant them rights. and just because a zygote might develop into something recognizably human I say again … so what? An acorn is one thing and a mighty oak is another. I don’t like to cede ground in the argument that since life factually and demonstrably begins at concept that it is automatically eligible for human rights under the law.

  58. @mantis:

    Beyond the societal taboo of incest, inbreeding causes a higher rate of birth defects.

    This is really only the case if we’re talking inbreeding over many generations. The actual increase in the risk of birth defects for an isolated case of inbreeding is quite small. Less than the increased risk for pregnancy where the mother is older than 40, for example.

  59. Me Me Me says:

    @mantis: Did he really?

    Personhood bills would outlaw in vitro fertilization, which Romney’s son Tagg and his wife have used more than once (and two other sons reportedly have as well). Would Romney really endorse the criminalization of the procedure that gave him grandchildren? That would be a fun topic for the debates.

    Wow – is that true? Do you have a link?

    IVF as it is practiced 99% of the time is completely indefensible if believe, as the Catholic Church ludicrously insists, that a fertilized egg is a fully fledged person.

  60. Rob in CT says:

    Yeah, fellas, Rick was not taking a “pro-life”/anti-abortion stance. He was, as I read him, pointing out how meaningless saying “life begins at…” is. He’s now spelled it out in greater detail, but it was pretty clear in his original comment.

  61. anjin-san says:

    @ J-Dub

    Deep down, she probably wanted it. The further right you go, to more prevalent that view is…

  62. The Colourfield says:

    @MattT:

    Either way it’s not an accurate comparison. He didn’t do anything or in the case of rape, have anything done to him to cause the situation.

    i say this as generally pro choice person who supports subsidized abortions up to a point.

    I get a little more squeamish once you pass 20 weeks as now you are getting into viable territory and I can’t see the logic of ending a 22 week pregnancy in one ward of the hospital while another works desperately to save a preemie If you didn’t want the baby, there is plenty of time to have an abortion before then.

    However, if the mother’s life is in danger there is no choice, the mother must be saved.

  63. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @stonetools: How can a scientific illiterate serve on such a committee?

    He is a Republican, that’s how.

  64. Rob in CT says:

    @The Colourfield:

    Sometimes really nasty birth defects aren’t detected until past 20 weeks. Defects the mean the baby will live for hours… maybe days, if “lucky.”

    I know a couple who had that happen (there were twins and the other baby was totally fine). The baby lived a few hours. They had a funeral and a bris on the same day. Yikes.

    Anyway, it’s not just health of the mother. It’s also “do I seriously carry this fetus to term, with all the attendant risks, only to watch it die in pain a few hours after birth?”

  65. @OzarkHillbilly:

    He’s not as bad as he could be on science:

    Ultimately, Congressman Akin is committed to a common-sense approach to global warming concerns through balancing economic and environmental outcomes. For that reason, he will not support policies that hamstring America’s economy without producing any meaningful reduction in global warming projections (the Environmental Protection Agencies own studies show an insubstantial reduction in global temperatures as a likely result of Cap and Trade policies).

    I actually expected to find a denier based on the above.

  66. mantis says:

    @Me Me Me:

    Wow – is that true? Do you have a link?

    You bet.

    2 New Grandchildren for Romney, With Help of Surrogate

  67. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    I think you may have been thrown when I said that i believe that life begins at conception, which is factually correct but it’s a distinction without any actionable consequences.

    Rick, thanx, that clears it up for me. When I read that I thought it was a typo because the Pro-Life people are so fond of saying “life begins at conception” but when you add, “which is factually correct but it’s a distinction without any actionable consequences.” that is a nuance I had never really considered.

  68. mantis says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    This is really only the case if we’re talking inbreeding over many generations.

    Not really. The risk grows with repeated inbreeding over time, but exists at a higher probability even without that. It also depends on the relationship. The offspring of a father breeding with his daughter is four times more likely to have identical alleles than the offspring of first cousins.

  69. JohnMcC says:

    Just for reference and to be a reminder: The “Personhood Amendment” failed in Mississippi by a 43 to 55% margin. I repeat: “in Mississippi.”

    With good campainging stategy by Ms McCaskill (no relatiion, BTW), the election in Missouri just got changed into the “Personhood” election. And as several commenters have noted, Mr Ryan has made fetal personhood a significant part of his political agenda.

    Now if there were only a few Dems with an instinct for the jugular!

    (And a thank you for the commenters who beat me to the punch on HR #3 and Mr Akin’s Science Committee assignment. I found that stuff just in time to see your entries. Still — important enough to re-emphasis because it explains who the Republican Party has become.)

  70. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna:

    For that reason, he will not support policies that hamstring America’s economy without producing any meaningful reduction in global warming projections

    John, This is the fallback, fallback, fallback, fallback, fallback position for GW deniers. First they state that there is no global warming, than they say well maybe there is but it is caused by the sun, then they say, OK, there is global warming and yes man is a contributing factor, but there is nothing we can do about it, THEN they say global warming is real and yes man is a contributing factor, but we can’t do anything about it without trashing our economy, THEEEENNNN they say global warming is real and yes man is a contributing factor, but we can’t do anything about it without trashing our economy and besides, it won’t produce any meaningful reduction in global warming projections….

    To which I always want to ask, “Hey Todd, over what period of time?” because there is a lag between the reductions of greenhouse gasses and the reduction of global temperatures.

    They are just moving the goal posts John, in the most disingenuous way possible.

  71. Hoot Gibson says:

    This is the problem with the GOP—they don’t embrace their morons and perverts the way the Dems do.

    1. Ted Kennedy was a well-known drunkard, womanizer and he killed a girl to boot, yet he is revered as “The Lion of The Senate”.

    2. Bill Clinton got blow jobs in the Oval Office from an intern, among other things, yet he is considered an elder statesman to the Democrat Party—to say nothing of the bizillion dollars he has raked in since he left office.

    3. Barney Frank ran a gay prostitution ring out of his basement, yet he is widely hailed as the “smartest man in congress”

    4. John Edwards knocked up a campaign worker, which normally would be considered a resume enhancer for a Dem, but unfortunately for him, his wife was dying from cancer.

    5. Joe Biden has been in the US Senate for 30 years and has uttered more inane and racist comments than can be recounted, yet—–he’s now VPOTUS.

    What this proves is that the GOP needs to stop being so damned moral and back their bad boys like the Dems do—Obama never denounced Biden for his moronic “y’all in chains” comment—he embraced it.

    When this guy from Missouri has killed a girl, knocked up a campaign worker or commits any other Democrat felony, then we can talk—otherwise the Democrats and their allies in the press are hypocrites trying to change the subject from what Obama has done over the last four years.

  72. The Colourfield says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I’m okay with that too. In fact, the situation I describe is unlikely to happen anyway as pretty much any abortion after 20 weeks is for a medical reason, be it either the mother or the fetus.

    Just trying to make the point that there comes a time that ending a pregnancy changes as the fetus ages into a viable human being.

  73. The Q says:

    so lets say I am driving a car and it hits a hospital van which is carrying vials of IVF egss.

    The car crashes, the driver escapes, but the van bursts into flames, burning to “death” all the eggs.

    does that mean the I am now gonna be tried for involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide?

  74. MattT says:

    @Rick DeMent: Thanks for the discussion. To my mind, a fertilized egg or zygote or embryo is “a potential life.”

    Anti-abortionists are not called out often enough for how radical their position is. Human life has been defined as beginning at birth for thousands of years. Even when abortion was illegal, the murder of a pregnant woman or assault on a pregnant woman with the intent or result of causing miscarriage was not held to be murder. It was only when women themselves gained the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy that reactionaries went down the “life begins at conception” rabbit hole. That tells me that it really is all about paternalism, and objectification of women as vessels to carry a man’s progeny to term.

  75. Nikki says:

    @Hoot Gibson: Everything you’ve written may be true (and a good portion of it is not), but here’s the thing–Democrats never made claims to be the moral arbitors for the nation. Republicans wrap themselves in the morality mantle, then whine and complain when they fail to live up to their own ideals and get called out for it.

  76. Me Me Me says:

    @MattT:

    Human life has been defined as beginning at birth for thousands of years.

    And this is, in effect, the position taken by the Constitution. A child conceived in Canada to Canadian citizens and born in the United States is an American citizen. A child conceived in Maine to Canadian citizens and born in Canada is not.

  77. MattT says:

    In my last I should have said: the murder of a pregnant woman or assault on a pregnant woman with the intent or result of causing miscarriage was not held to be murder *of an unborn person.*

    @Me Me Me: Good point.

  78. Rob in CT says:

    @Hoot Gibson:

    Laughable. That’s the best you can do?

  79. stonetools says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    I think you may have been thrown when I said that i believe that life begins at conception, which is factually correct but it’s a distinction without any actionable consequences.

    I was thrown too. Apologies for that.

  80. Kinky Beats says:

    @Nikki:

    Hoot forget’s the Republican’s embrace of David Vitter after his prostitution scandal.

  81. mantis says:

    @Hoot Gibson:

    What this proves is that the GOP needs to stop being so damned moral

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    When this guy from Missouri has killed a girl, knocked up a campaign worker or commits any other Democrat felony,

    Crimes are only crimes if Democrats commit them. Got it. Usually we just shorten this to IOKIYAR.

    otherwise the Democrats and their allies in the press are hypocrites trying to change the subject from what Obama has done over the last four years.

    So we can’t talk about Romney and Ryan’s plans for the country until they commit crimes? Interesting…

  82. rudderpedals says:

    @Me Me Me: This. Under the common law the fetus needs to be born alive to have an existence except for very limited situations where “quickening” is relevant and for some funky inheritance issues.

  83. stonetools says:

    With good campainging stategy by Ms McCaskill (no relatiion, BTW), the election in Missouri just got changed into the “Personhood” election. And as several commenters have noted, Mr Ryan has made fetal personhood a significant part of his political agenda.

    Now if there were only a few Dems with an instinct for the jugular!

    You see that’s the thing. Ms. McCaskill has to be willing to push the knife in. Harry Reid was further behind Angle than McCaskill is behind Akin. However, Harry Reid by being relentless in pinning Angle’s quotes on her and never letting the voters forget that she is and was crazy.
    Mr. Akin is already trying run from his quote. Mcaskill has to make sure that quote follows him around every where he goes, even if the press gets tired of reporting on it.

  84. al-Ameda says:

    @Hoot Gibson:

    This is the problem with the GOP—they don’t embrace their morons and perverts the way the Dems do.

    The problem with the GOP is that their voter base keeps electing morons like Mike Akin.

  85. @OzarkHillbilly:

    It’s a much smarter position for anti-regulation types to take because it is what rational players on the other side do. Cost-benefit analysis is real and a tool for environmental investigation, regulation, and enforcement.

    The question might be whether he is an honest actor, making that cost-benefit analysis, or just pretending. But let me tell you what give me pause: China.

    How much should the US spend to close one coal plant in a month when China builds ten?

    In my opinion, not much. Of course if a meaningful global framework were offered, the cost-benefit of the whole thing would change.

  86. C. Clavin says:

    Is Hoot Gibson actually Jenos who was actually Indiana Jones?
    ‘Cause that would make sense…Jenos wants to be a cowboy!!!

  87. Barry says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “I must say I’ve never gotten the “and incest” part of the trinity. Since rape has already been covered, the “and incest” can only refering to consensual incest, and while squicky, I’m not sure why that would legitimize an abortion any more than any other form of consensual sex. ”

    At a guess, most cases of incest are non-consensual.

  88. Hoot Gibson says:

    aI-A your comment makes no sense; Akin hasn’t been elected but moron/pervs like Kennedy, Clinton, Biden,Edwards, Weiner, etc. have.

    Better luck next time.

    mantis, your comment makes no sense either; all I’m asking is that the GOP have the same disregard for idiocy and immorality in their politicians that the Dems have. Can you imagine any Democrat being pushed out of a race for US Senate over such a silly comment, which Akin has walked back and apologized for? Hell, Biden has been elected for 30 years saying more inane stuff than what Akin said.

    I figured everyone here would agree that the GOP needs to be more like the Dems.

    Kinky”s comment is also inane; having your name in the little book of a madam is JUST LIKE killing a girl and getting blow jobs in the WH. Lefty Logic is truly a wonder to behold.

    And I guess Rob’s comment is just another example of how liberals are all about using facts and logic in their arguments—or something

    I’m just asking for a level playing field here—the GOP taking the moral high ground just gives the Dems and their amoral idiots an unwarranted advantage.

    My bottom line: the GOP needs to be more like the Dems. Will anyone here really dispute that? Aren’t the Dems the shining example of what politics should be?

  89. Me Me Me says:

    @Hoot Gibson:

    Can you imagine any Democrat being pushed out of a race for US Senate over such a silly comment,

    Firstly no one on the Democrat side would ever categorize such a statement as merely “silly”; secondly, someone holding Akin’s antediluvian views on the status of women in human society would never have won the Democratic primary.

  90. David says:

    @Hoot Gibson: I got to stop on the first line. Aikin was elected to and is a sitting member of the House of Represenatives. I usually stop reading a post after the first glaring inaccuacy.

  91. MarkedMan says:

    @Me Me Me: I think you are trying to be sarcastic, but you are actually correct. The official Catholic doctrine is that IVF is a serious sin (I’m not sure if it is considered a mortal sin). From Catholic Insight, the official Vatican house organ:

    IVF violates the rights of the child: it deprives him of his filial relationship with his parental origins and can hinder the maturing of his personality. It objectively deprives conjugal fruitfulness of its unity and integrity, it brings about and manifests a rupture between genetic parenthood, gestational parenthood, and responsibility for upbringing. This threat to the unity and stability of the family is a source of dissension, disorder, and injustice in the whole of social life.

  92. gVOR08 says:

    @mantis:

    Did he really? Personhood bills would outlaw in vitro fertilization, which Romney’s son Tagg and his wife have used more than once (and two other sons reportedly have as well). Would Romney really endorse the criminalization of the procedure that gave him grandchildren? That would be a fun topic for the debates.

    As someone pointed out a couple of days ago, this isn’t a problem. Laws don’t apply to people like the Romneys, so it’s all good.

  93. mantis says:

    @Hoot Gibson:

    Akin hasn’t been elected…

    He has been elected, and re-elected five times, as Missouri’s 2nd district representative. You might want to refrain from telling everyone else they make no sense when you aren’t even aware of the basic facts.

    Can you imagine any Democrat being pushed out of a race for US Senate over such a silly comment,

    Any Democrat who said what Akin said would absolutely be pushed to drop out of the race. And it isn’t silly at all. It’s opinions like that that can have a great impact on policy. It’s also what a lot of pro-lifers believe.

  94. @Barry:

    At a guess, most cases of incest are non-consensual.

    That’s true, but again they’d be covered by the rape exception. So why the need for the redundant “and incest”?

  95. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @john personna:

    Cost-benefit analysis is real and a tool for environmental investigation, regulation, and enforcement.

    Yeah John, I agree, but when they rig the game….

    But let me tell you what give me pause: China.

    Gives me a lot of pause too.

    How much should the US spend to close one coal plant in a month when China builds ten?

    So…. We should do nothing?

    In my opinion, not much. Of course if a meaningful global framework were offered, the cost-benefit of the whole thing would change.

    Which is the thing we should do…. Once we had the Kyoto protocol, but we all saw how that turned out….. Like it or not, that is on us.

  96. @OzarkHillbilly:

    I’ve heard it suggested that dumping all our fracking technology on China would do more to reduce global warming than any other single thing. Don’t know if that’s true, but if it is, we should.

    Other than that, without a strong international agreement, we should concentrate on the things we can control, like the health of our food supply, wild lands, and territorial waters.

  97. Scott F. says:

    @Hoot Gibson:

    What this proves is that the GOP needs to stop being so damned moral and back their bad boys like the Dems do…

    Please, please, please let this be the lesson the GOP learns from this episode. Continue to back Todd Akin with all your heart and soul…Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann, too. The country needs more Republicans who say out loud what they really think.

    The dog whistles are so disingenuous.

  98. MarkedMan says:

    I realize we’ve gone way off topic here but the Chinese position re: pollution/global warming couldn’t be farther apart. The Chinese are struggling with trying to bring a billion+ people into the 21st century so yes, that absolutely means more power plants. But at the same time they are investing mightily in clean energy. To the point that they decided to own Photovoltaic manufacturing and subsidized their manufacturers to the point where American companies such as Solyndra collapsed. The Repub response to this devastation of American industry by a foreign government? “Obama is a kenyan socialist! He hates America!” the Repub leadership has literally no interest in government whatsoever. They have become the party for the people who shoot holes in the bottom of the lifeboat because they can’t stand to see the other guy dry.

  99. bk says:

    @stonetools:

    How can a scientific illiterate serve on such a committee?

    If I recall correctly, one of the members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence is someone named Michele Bachmann.

  100. anjin-san says:

    @ Hoot Gibson:

    Going with the “Ignorant & Proud” thing I see…

  101. jukeboxgrad says:

    mantis:

    Did he [Mitt] really [endorse a personhood bill]? Personhood bills would outlaw in vitro fertilization, which Romney’s son Tagg and his wife have used more than once (and two other sons reportedly have as well). Would Romney really endorse the criminalization of the procedure that gave him grandchildren?

    Mitt has said “life begins at conception,” and he answered yes when asked if he “would … have supported the constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception.” Link.

    And yes, the time has come for him to explain how these statements are congruent with the existence of his own IVF offspring. Most people probably don’t know that he has IVF offspring, and most people probably don’t know he has made those statements.

  102. Jennifer says:

    This guys is about to get the boot, people are tired of these lies being spread. Please support this cause and booth is mofo –

    http://www.youstand.com/cause/82112/remove-todd-akin-from-the-house-science-committee

    Please take a stand and support this.