Skip to content


I have some sympathy for politicians who make verbal gaffes. After all, everybody says things they regret later.

So I’m curious about what people think of current Congressman and GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin, who was asked why he opposes abortion even in the case of rape. Akin claimed that “from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin later claimed that he “misspoke”.

Really? I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I’m having troubles. In the past, Akin praised an anti-abortion militia group that participated in invasions of abortion clinics. Akin also voted for an anti-marital-rape law, questioning whether women used accusations of rape as a legal weapon in a messy divorce.

But what really makes me shake my head is that Akin is a current member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Really.

The other thing that is ironic in this case is that one reason Akin won the GOP nomination for the Senate is that Democrats, including his upcoming opponent Clair McCaskill, donated $1.5 million to his campaign, helping him win over more moderate candidates. Of course, McCaskill expressed outrage at Akin’s rape statement, but isn’t that a bit disingenuous given that she donated to his campaign? When does something stop being good strategy, and start being dirty politics?

UPDATE: According to the reliable

Earlier this year, every House Republican and 16 Blue Dog Democrats voted for a bill that would have redefined rape in federal statutes to be “forcible rape.” If this bill had become law, then statutory rape, the rape of a drugged or mentally impaired woman, or any rape where the rapist did not use physical force would not be considered rape. The bill died in the Senate. When Akin said “legitimate rape” he undoubtedly meant “forcible rape” as defined by the House bill but forgot the exact terminology.

Congressman, and now vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, was a co-sponsor of that bill.

But what’s really hypocritical about this is that the Republican Party platform is going to contain a call for a constitutional amendment forbidding all abortions, even in the case of incest or rape (including forcible, legitimate, or whatever). So why are they shocked at Akin’s statement?



  1. Robert F. wrote:

    What do you reckon about the situation with Julian Assange? It’s tense over in London at the moment.

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  2. Hassan wrote:

    He misspoke about the word “legitimate”, that is what he seems to be pointing to. He did not apologize for considering that a “real” rape can not scientifically cause pregnancy.

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink
  3. Arthanyel wrote:

    He did not misspeak – other than by accidently letting the nation see what he actually thinks. And all the Republican groups are pulling their support and not-so-gently trying to get him to quit so that a more moderate (really?) Republican can go up against McCaskill.

    I didn’t know that she donated to an opponents campaign in order to get he best opponent. That’s quite creative. And as long as we have Citizen’s United and infinite money in politics, its a perfectly legitimate use of funds.

    Which is why we need to pass a consitutional amendment banning private financing of campaigns and PACs and publicly fund all elections. We have to break the dependency of politicians on cash. It’s already too late, but if we work hard we can repair the damage before the patient completely stops breathing.

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    So Akin’s real crime (to Republicans) is risking losing the election?

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink
  5. Bard wrote:

    I’m indifferent, didn’t Bush’s people give Nader’s campaign a ton of money during 00?

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink
  6. Michael wrote:

    Talk about a possibly backfiring strategy. Before this incident, Akin was leading in the polls 50-44%. If he would have kept his mouth shut, he probably would have won somewhat easily.

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink
  7. Duckman wrote:

    I dont even….

    I hate this country…I dont know if people have always been this dumb or if the Internet is just now allowing us to see it….but I need a private island

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  8. Uzza wrote:

    American politics makes no sense to me. Constantly I see things where someone got elected because they raised X million dollars more than their opponent. How does this work exactly? I have visions of people sitting in easy chairs listening to TV, then going forth to vote for whichever name they’ve heard repeated the most often, but isn’t there some limit below which the issues actually start to matter? If enough donors got behind him would Larry the Cucumber be in the White House?

    Why bother with elections at all if people are that dumb? Why not just compare campaign funds and swear in the guy with the most money?

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink
  9. Mike wrote:

    I think Akins spoke his purest thought. (I wanted to put quotation marks around thought, but that would be mean.)

    How any sentient non-one percent human, related to a woman, could vote for Republican this year simply boggles my mind.

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink
  10. Jeff wrote:

    I think that Akin had a moment of unbridled honesty, and it shocked the GOP that he could be so open about his true thoughts on this topic.

    One of the reporters on NPR explained this theory very well. If we have lawmakers who believe that “legitimate” rape does not lead to pregnancy, then there does not need to be a provision to allow abortions in the case of rape since that outcome is impossible. It’s a clever play on words that also came up when Republicans recently tried to change the language in the women’s health bill by adding the word “forcible” to the definition of rape. According to this philosophy, any woman who claims they became pregnant after rape is lying and must have become pregnant by consensual contact, and so would not be allowed to have an abortion. Akin’s remarks are an extension of this belief, which dates back to the 1980’s and 90’s. Along with the belief that science is all wrong, this is a convenient position for the pro-life community to hold.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 6:01 am | Permalink
  11. Michael wrote:

    Uzza, your vision of people sitting in easy chairs is a slight exaggeration, because it assumes watching TV is an active choice. The reality is that we in the U.S. are constantly bombarded with media imagery. Stores, restaurants, gas stations, workplace cafeterias… There are TVs or radio everywhere. So even when we are not actively trying to watch TV, our mind is still absorbing the messages. If a 10-second blurb can create a positive association with one candidate (Joe Schmoe loves freedom!) while creating a negative one with the opponent (Frank Jones hates puppies and wants to blow up your church!), you develop a subconscious preference for the former. It is a technique for bypassing one’s rational facilities. The more money you raise, the greater the likelihood that your constantly bombarded message drowns out your opponent’s. It’s used for the same reason companies spend millions on advertising: It works.

    Jeff, there’s also a significantly more misogynistic issue at play, too. I was in high school and college in the ’90s, and I remember hearing stories–urban legends–about women who had accused partners of rape as revenge for getting dumped. So those were not “legitimate” rapes, and all accusations were therefore suspect (just her word against his). Or there’s the whole blaming the victim because she was drunk route, even if she could not give consent. Since she was unable to fight back or object, it wasn’t “forcible,” so it wasn’t rape. These disgusting stories persist, and they are used by many men to rationalize the need for distinguishing a sort of types of rape…as if some types are worse than others and some types don’t really deserve punishment.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 8:29 am | Permalink
  12. Jonah wrote:

    Looks like as far as the republicans go, Akin simply chose the wrong words

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink
  13. Sammy wrote:

    His first crime is his use of the word “legitimate”, but isn’t the bigger crime that he represents a large group of people who actually believe these things, such as rape not causing pregnancy or that a woman has to orgasm to conceive? Have none of these dopes ever taken a basic human physiology class on reproductive organs and their functions? Oh wait, that’s right. They don’t believe in sexual education either.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink
  14. westomoon wrote:

    Two comments: First, I’d guess Akin’s “crime” was being picked up by the media, which seems to be having a sort of Cairo Spring recently. Rachel Maddow did a telling analysis last night, demonstrating that Akin’s bizarre opinions are actually the norm in the “cultural conservative” wing that is now dominating the R party. Plenty of other people, including Paul Ryan, have publicly expressed virtually identical thoughts. The only difference is, they didn’t get taken viral with them.

    Secondly, Claire McCaskill. Since Akin is actually a fine example of what the R Party stands for these days, how is it dirty politics to edge him toward victory? It’s sort of truth in advertising — letting voters know what they’re choosing of they choose any R. We all know that, once they’re in office, R’s aren’t allowed to deviate from the party line — they are bullied by the Noise Machine and intimidated by [valid] threats of ouster in the next R primary — assassination via Tea Party, as has become common.

    I guess R candidates are not supposed to let the general electorate know how crazy their party’s policies are until they’re actually in office, where to date,they’ve been allowed to be as completely bug-f*ck as they like with no media consequences of any kind. Akin’s sin was one of timing — he should have saved those crazy notions for the Senate floor.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink