I thought I was taking a late summer hiatus, based on a combination of annual dog days reveries, overseas athletic distractions, and an utterly uninspiring domestic political mudscape. Then Senate candidate Todd Akin weighed-in with a blunder of truly Olympian proportions. If there was a competition for setting the campaign season on its ear, this son of the Show Me State would bring home The Gold.
It began with a softball toss of an interview question about abortion in cases of rape. In a stunning display of misguided concision, candidate Akin minimized the importance of the issue (“extremely rare”); expressed doubt about many (most?) rape charges by suggesting that there’s a useful policy distinction between “legitimate” and, other (morning-regrets?) rape claims; and concluded with a statement of his belief that the typical uterus is already pro-choice with respect to spermatic suitors – in Akinland, undesirable swimmers are shown the exit, sans consummation.
That latter claim smacked of the various self-fulfilling “witch tests” of the Salem era – you simply fling The Accused into a convenient body of water – if she floats, she’s exonerated; otherwise, well – problem solved! Such a scientific demonstration obviously also placed a premium on body mass index (or knowing where to find the submerged stumps). In the world according to candidate Todd, if a rape “victim” showed up pregnant, the legitimacy of her claim would be cast into serious doubt. The uterus Knows, after all.
I was also reminded of a paternity case I witnessed as a young clerk in the Wilmington, DE, Legal Aid office. The defendant admitted knowing the mother, being involved with her, having sex with her during the relevant time, and the kid even looked like him -- but he steadfastly (and angrily) denied his possible fatherhood. Why? Because, he stated triumphantly, in the course of each intimate interlude, he had an orgasm, but She never did – so it Had to be somebody else. (He lost).
The differences here, of course, are that the Salem era ended before the Republic began, and the Delaware paternity suit rube was not a current member of the House of Representatives Science Committee. That Mr. Akin was chosen by his GOP peers to be entrusted with subjects like Climate Change policy would be comical, if the issues weren’t so dire (you guessed it – he’s a denier). That’s who’s minding the store in the House, and seeking election to the United States Senate. But please don’t adjust your thermostat – that queasy, cold sweat you may be feeling is “legitimate.”
The fallout from the broken Akin interview has also been notable: he felt free to thumb-his-nose at his Party’s Presidential candidate who called for him to step aside, the bloom quickly came off the rosy reviews of VP candidate (and former Munster) Paul Ryan, who shares the no-rape-exception abortion position with Mr. Akin, and the GOP campaign (and platform) are being forced to defend social issues when they want to focus their fire on the economy. Not only that, but recent reports suggest that Tropical Storm Isaac may disrupt the GOP convention in Tampa next week.
Perhaps it should be renamed Hurricane Todd?