Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It just keeps getting better

So this guy named Todd Akin, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Missouri - and coddling a 10 point lead over Democrat Claire McCaskill - turns out to be afflicted with Brain-to-Mouth disease. A person with this disease has a wiring problem that inhibits a fluid connection between what's going on in his head with what ends up coming out of his mouth. The transmission gets garbled. Mr. Akin said something to the effect that in cases of what he termed "legitimate" rape, the female body has some kind of biological defense against getting pregnant. This latter claim could be true for all I know. I don't keep up with the latest discoveries about the female body. I found out a long time ago that I pretty much like it, admire what it's capable of, and was real glad when a woman said she'd take the chance of living with me for an extended period of time.

The problem for Mr. Akin is that nobody knows what a legitimate rape is, and now he's in a heap of trouble. His own party wants him out of the race, and what looked like a sure win for Republican efforts to retake the Senate doesn't look like that anymore. I think Mr. Akin was planted in our midst by either the Democrats or Ron Paul.

Buried near the end of the article was the news that Mitt Romney was trying to distance himself from Mr. Akin. Mr. Romney wants to talk about the economy, not about bizarre rape theories that play right into Mr. Obama's hands. And so the article tells us:

Besides distancing itself from Akin, Romney's campaign said a Romney administration would not oppose abortion in case of rape. That would be a departure from the position of his vice presidential pick, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, who has proposed legislation that would outlaw abortion with no exception for rape.

Messier and messier. Drip, drip.

23 comments:

TS said...

Sigh. On such remarks hang the balance of the Senate. Ouch. Rape is surely a third rail of American politics. Even I know that and I'm not a politician.

Lydia McGrew said...

Yes, the confused outrage over Akin's comments has now spilled over to outrage about the position that unborn children cannot be murdered in the case of rape. Actually, I believe that Romney already supported an exception for rape in abortion law and has all along. So that isn't a change for Romney.

The left has now discovered the alleged outrage that the Republican Party platform is still a couple of decades behind in its moral evolution and, shocka!, still opposes abortion in the case of rape! I wonder if the GOP will now hasten to change it.

I can't help wondering if they will succumb to pressure and change that. By the way: Every GOP president from GWB onward has supported even federal _funding_ for abortions in cases of rape and incest, not just life of the mother. The Hyde Amendment was changed accordingly a long time ago.

George Bush, Sr., _opposed_ such funding. It may have just been a temporal thing--at that time, that was what pro-lifers expected of their president. Maybe it wasn't something he felt strongly about. If anything, I think Jr. had a more pro-life heart. But, significantly, Sr. had more pro-life actions.

William Luse said...

"Actually, I believe that Romney already supported an exception for rape..."

Could be. I just didn't know it, because his website says, "It's always wrong to take innocent human life." He just doesn't mean the same thing by 'always' as you and I.

I finally saw the actual interview in which Akin uttered the fatal word, and it's quite clear he meant something else and that the guy is no moron. I just wish he'd found the something else.

Lydia McGrew said...

I just realized what a stupid phrase of mine that was: "Every GOP President from GWB onward." Duh. He _was_ the most recent Republican President. My brain is slipping.

With Akin, what they're all claiming to be outraged about is 1) the very claim that women are less likely to conceive in cases of forcible rape and 2) the alleged further implication (which I think is stretching it) that almost any woman who claims to have conceived from rape must be lying or must be exaggerating what was really a seduction or something into a forcible rape. Obviously, he didn't say #2. As you imply in the main post, #1 is a sufficiently esoteric empirical proposition that no one should be expected to know for sure that it's false by the natural light! If he says a doctor told him that, a doctor probably did tell him that, and the liberals wouldn't really like it if we started being globally skeptical (as skeptical as maybe we should be) about what authority figures like doctors tell us! I imagine they believe their doctor friends just like Akin does.

The claim itself is probably false. It's a claim that's been "in the air" in the pro-life community for a long time. I, being a skeptical sort of person, have never thought there was sufficiently good evidence presented for it. But why should Akin have to be as skeptical as I am?

We all know why, of course: Because liberals say this is a horrible, bad thing to believe--that women are significantly less likely to conceive as a result of forcible rape than as a result of consensual sex. Therefore only someone of ill will could possibly believe it.

William Luse said...

Yes, and the core of Akin's stupidity is to think that - whether a doctor told him this stuff or not - it could POSSIBLY BE RELEVANT to the question of whether a child conceived by rape ought to be killed. Then, when Romney says his admin would not oppose such abortions, he's been manipulated into saying exactly what the libs want to hear. And they know good and well it contradicts his general stand that "taking innocent human life is always wrong." Do you think he'll be asked about this in the debates? I do. Hope he's got a good explanation as to why a child conceived of rape isn't innocent.

William Luse said...

Oh, and I missed your 'stupid phrase' because I make so many of them myself.

Lydia McGrew said...

Sure, argumentatively, it shouldn't be relevant. But pro-lifers do that kind of thing all the time. Take life of the mother cases. Pro-lifers are constantly saying, "Why are we even talking about this? It's a moot point. It never really comes up," and so forth. It's a pretty well-known rhetorical trope. He should have known that to say that or anything like that in connection with children conceived in rape would provoke all this horror and outrage. It would have not only been better argumentatively, as you point out, but _enormously_ better rhetorically, not even to go there.

However: At this point I'm so thoroughly disgusted with all the Republicans throwing him under the bus that I'd far rather stand with Todd Akin, who knows and is willing to say that a child conceived in rape should not be murdered, than stand with all the people who are aiding and abetting the further erosion of the Republican party's pro-life stance. Grrr.

It was pointed out to me that Romney actually got Paul Ryan to call Akin and try to get him to quit. Ain't that cute? Romney picks the more conservative VP candidate and uses him as a cat's-paw to try to get rid of the pro-lifer who has "become an embarrassment." Mark my words: This campaign is going to be corrupting to Paul Ryan.

Lydia McGrew said...

I swear, I had not read this story before posting that previous comment:

http://news.yahoo.com/paul-ryan-softens-anti-abortion-stance-good-step-171207381--abc-news-politics.html

William Luse said...

I'll have to get back to this tonight. And to the post below. School stuff interferes.

William Luse said...

Akin might have had to "go there" if an interviewer asked him the question. So he might have just said, "Look, innocent life is innocent life. That's why I'm against it." And then shut up.

I'd far rather stand with Todd Akin...than stand with all the people who are aiding and abetting the further erosion of the Republican party's pro-life stance.

Agreed. I think this is what Zippy means when he says that the ruling order is a liberal one. All our responses are calculated to keep from being painted as extremists in a society that thinks protecting a child conceived in rape is extreme, when in fact it is only humane. Akin has put Repubs in the position of having to defend the "no rape exception," and their response is telling. I think the guy probably meant forcible rape as opposed to illegal but consensual statutory rape, but again, he needn't have gone there in the first place.

In the article Ryan says that he still holds his views but will support Romney's because he thinks it's a "step in the right direction," that is, I presume when compared to Obama's alternative. I guess he could claim to be doing nothing more than you and I have done in voting for a candidate who makes exceptions or for a law that does the same. A genuine case of lesser of two evils. But yes, Ryan is already being corrupted by the little compromises with Romney's liberalism, and who knows how many more are to come.

Lydia McGrew said...

But Ryan isn't just voting for Romney. As Veep candidate, he's the #1 campaigner. (I've really decided that a Veep candidate is just functionally a glorified Top Campaigner.) And he said that he is "comfortable" with the policy. Actually, methinks the man doth protest too much. He's clearly _not_ comfortable with the policy. What's the betting that he would never have said, "Well, I myself definitely advocate a different policy, and to the extent that it lies within me as Vice President or in any capacity in which I serve, I will seek to protect as many innocent unborn lives as possible"?

I don't think he would have said that. Instead, he had to say that the presidential candidate sets the policy and he's comfortable with it.

I agree that the AP is spinning it as more of a "softening" of his own position than it really is, but it's unpleasant all the same.

Plus, as I said before, there's Ryan being tagged to call Akin and ask him to bow out of the race. Something about that has a really bad smell. It's like, "Oh, you and Akin have worked together and shared the same policy positions. _You_ call him and ask him to fall on his sword for the party." And could Ryan have refused? I'm sure he didn't feel like he could have.

Lydia McGrew said...

Oh, one other thing: I've been bothered for many years by the blurring of the line between a _law_ that contains exceptions and a _candidate_ who really advocates the exceptions as a matter of principle. I'm not saying I would never vote for such a candidate under any circumstances. I am saying that such a person is more problematic than such a law. Because the candidate really _believes_ in the exceptions, wouldn't change them if he could, but the _law_ can be an incremental step towards further protection. Long ago the Right to Life organizations got ambiguous between a candidate who would vote for a law with exceptions and a candidate who would never vote for a law without exceptions--a candidate who truly believed in the exceptions.

For our own clarity of thought, we should always know the difference and which of those is a correct description of a candidate. (Romney truly believes in all the exceptions.)

William Luse said...

That's a good point about the distinction between a candidate and a law.

Funny, Romney's website makes no mention of any exceptions for either abortion or stem cells. Not what I'd call forthcoming.

If Ryan really is uncomfortable, he shouldn't have taken the position. (Is it possible he didn't know about it until this Akin thing?) Either that or give Romney a choice. No exceptions or I'm not your man.

And he shouldn't have called Akin at all. The whole Republican apparatus was doing that anyway. He's being used. Sometimes I think political ambition (as we know it today) just tends to suck the soul out of a man.

Lydia McGrew said...

Gradually re-finding a couple of links. Romney on "extra" embryos for ESCR:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/10/national/10stem.html?_r=1

Look for the paragraphs beginning "Unlike some social conservatives..."

Lydia McGrew said...

Apparently R has been declaring support for the three exceptions since about 2008. I can't find the original source right now, but several places claim that his spokesman said he would have signed a South Dakota law banning abortions but only if the three exceptions were included. (I gather not all three exceptions were included in the SD law.) Here's just one link that mentions that:

http://dawn0834.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/mitt-romney-on-abortion-throughout-the-years/

zippycatholic said...

For the great majority of people, voting for a candidate means supporting that candidate. Once one makes the concrete act, it takes a very unnatural fortitude to avoid the temptation to be "on the team". Once you are on the team, start those rationalization engines.

Furthermore, the same thing happens at the meta level of voting (mass scale, universal suffrage) at all. When we vote, we naturally want to be "on the team" that makes voting into a concrete expression of equal rights in a context of government whose just powers derive from the consent of the governed. We vote in part to affirm the legitimacy of the ritual itself as the proper root of self government by free and equal men, as contrasted to a presumed-illegitimate subjection to sovereign authority which precedes our choices. In other words, the great majority of people are drawn into liberal modes of thought by engaging in liberal rituals.

As with any religious ritual, it is possible to attend and participate and yet get nothing out of it. Look at Pelosi or Sebelius style Catholicism. But defining and understanding public ritual based on its apostates is a mistake. There may be plenty of good apostates from liberalism who nevertheless participate in liberal public rituals. Perhaps some hope to stage a kind of "rainbow sash"-like protest or whatever, or hope to see the equivalent of feminist women priests ordained in order to undermine the thing from within. Even so though the effort is directed at remaking the religion into something it is not, and in their own counsels they ought to face that fact.

zippycatholic said...

Romney on GOP Catholic TV: will he rescind the HHS mandate? Well, who knows; but we know he supports "freedom of worship", the newly constrained right to be religious as long as it has no effect on anyone else whatsoever. And tolerance: we know he is big time into tolerance. And he'll continue to meet with Cardinal Dolan!

Golly, how reassuring.

William Luse said...

I wouldn't rush to any judgement based on that video. He seemed basically solid. It would have been nice, though, if he'd just said 'yes,' an easy answer for him since he's pledged to revoke the ACA as soon as he gets elected, which would mean abolishing the act in all its parts including any regulatory power granted to HHS under the Act. Problem is, if he doesn't have a Republican house and senate, I don't know how he plans to do this. A duly enacted law is beyond the reach of his personal power.

Lydia, that dawn blog is by a liberal. Automatic distrust. So I found this article at Fox by Gary Bauer detailing Romney's epiphany on abortion: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/06/19/mitt-romney-and-abortion-why-are-pro-lifers-still-questioning-convert/

Mr. Bauer doesn't mention any exceptions. Maybe he didn't know about them.

Lydia McGrew said...

Bill, Romney has never hidden his support for the exceptions. I wasn't picking that blog for any particular reason. It's just that the interview with his spokesman gets referred to all over but doesn't appear to be available verbatim.

Here, for example, is a page that notes that in 2007 Romney expressly supported rape and incest exceptions:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/mitt-romney-said-in-2007-he-would-be-delighted-t

There's really never been any question about the matter except that now the Obama campaign is trying to make it sound like Romney opposed the exceptions, and Romney is saying that he always has.

Lydia McGrew said...

That is, Romney is pointing out that he has always supported them.

Lydia McGrew said...

http://web.archive.org/web/20071107192930/http://www.mittromney.com/Issue-Watch/Values

On this 2007 page, Romney's own campaign quoted, as a representation of his stance on the issues, his position in 2005, as written by him in an op-ed for the Boston Globe:

"I am pro-life. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother..."

Lydia McGrew said...

Sorry to keep leaving more links, but this Washington Post article appears to be the original source regarding the South Dakota law--that he would have signed it only if it included the three exceptions:

"A spokeswoman for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said that, were he South Dakota's governor, he would sign the bill but make sure it includes exceptions for cases of rape and incest -- exceptions the bill pointedly does not include."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/02/AR2006030201683.html

To be clear, I'm not bringing all this up to say that never never never under any circumstances would I vote for such a candidate. It's just part of the overall picture about Romney that bothers me, and it is part of the background for what is going on right now. Romney is upset that the Obama campaign is lying about his position on abortion. The Obama campaign is painting anyone who doesn't accept the rape exception as a dangerous extremist, and Romney is able (with honesty) to declare that he isn't _that_ kind of "extremist," which is part of the background for his backing kicking off Akin. Admittedly, Akin is being pressured to leave because he stuck his foot in his mouth, but the issue of the rape exception also has now been brought front and center, and it's my belief that many in the Republican establishment would like to purge the party of people who take Akin's position and are comfortable with Ryan only because he is to some extent neutralized by being only the VP candidate.

William Luse said...

"It's just part of the overall picture about Romney that bothers me"

Yes, well, you're not the only one.

"the Republican establishment would like to purge the party"

No doubt. It would be inordinately stupid, though. There are enough of us such that, if we were lost, he would not win.