So today, Rep. Todd Akin said something while explaining his absolutist anti-abortion stance that was guaranteed to piss a huge part of the country off:
Answering a question about whether or not he thought abortion should be legal in the case of rape, Akin explained his opposition by citing unnamed medical mechanisms he said prevented pregnancy.
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said of rape-induced pregnancy in an interview with KTVI. A clip of the interview was posted online by the liberal super PAC American Bridge.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin continued. He did not provide an explanation for what constituted “legitimate rape.”
He added: “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
Now let’s unpack this and see what’s inside. First off, and most obviously, we have the term “legitimate rape.” What could he have possibly meant by that? Could that have anything to do with a lingering conservative belief that rape doesn’t exist if no punches are thrown? And what “Doctors” might have told him this (hopefully I will find out more about who this Dr. Willke is and read up on his sources**)? Also, this wouldn’t be the “stern father” side of the argument against abortion even in cases of rape, juxtaposed with the “loving mother” side here? Please don’t think this was “just” a gaffe, which is “saying what you really believe when it will get you in trouble.” The problem is that this isn’t “just” anything, it’s part and parcel of a set of world-views that is amazingly appealing to the Religious Right, and it’s not a new thing for him. His world views have been consistent in his 20 years in politics, and he’s never lost by playing to them (and to those who are similarly narrow-minded). In short, he really believed every word of what he said (including what logically follows from it), and so do a lot of other sitting Members of Congress.
A few more facts just to round out our picture of him: Rep. Akin sits on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. He served on the subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and on the subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. He’s got a truly atrocious record, a true conservative soldier taking all the “right” positions on everything from medicare to climate change. Letting this guy into the Senate would be bad news. Please, please, please Liberals, Progressives, and sane people of Missouri, please do not let this guy win.
* A dog whistle in politics is something that your base hears one way, but that another constituency hear incompletely, if at all. The term is taken from the ultrasonic dog whistles that are so much fun for children because only the dog can hear it.
** The citantion of statistics in that article alone are jaw-droppingly stupid because of the lack of an error range, because if there isn’t an error range, then he’s making claims of fact – and you don’t get to do that when you don’t have all the information, no matter how comfortingly authoritative it may make you sound.