Monday, August 20, 2012

Todd Akin's rape statement was not a gaffe

The firestorm that began Sunday with Todd Akin’s claim in an interview with Charles Jaco of Fox 2 in St. Louis that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” will undoubtedly continue today and for some time to come.
Already there is a movement afoot by some, led by CNN commentator and conservative know-it-all Dana Loesch to call Akin’s statement a “gaffe,” just another one of those missteps that plague political campaigns in this era of social media and 24-hour news cycles.
Akin himself, after realizing that his campaign was being rocked by the Jaco interview, tried to make the best of a bad situation, saying that he “misspoke” and, of course, had much empathy for rape victims.
What Todd Akin said was no gaffe and does not need “clarification” from a media going out of its way to be “fair” and “objective” even when that objectivity comes at the expense of truth.
When Todd Akin spoke of “legitimate rape,” it was a theme he has sounded for the past two decades, first as a four-term member of the Missouri House of Representatives and then in six terms in Congress.
At one point in the mid-90s, Akin, as noted in Talking Points Memo, voted for a bill that would criminalize marital rape, but not before he made it clear that he was concerned that women were going to lie and say their husbands had raped them to gain advantage in divorce settlements.
Todd Akin has a problem with women.
And judging from the rest of the Jaco interview, that’s not all that concerns Akin. Though the rape comment, quite understandably, has attracted the most attention, Akin also made it clear that he would not mind dialing back the Civil Rights acts of the 1960s, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and returning all decisions on elections to the states.
The congressman noted that Florida handled things all right in 2000.
Of course, it was some states’ predisposition toward keeping African Americans from voting and the stubborn resistance of state officials to entering the 20th Century that made the Voting Rights Act a giant positive step in this nation’s history- a step that Todd Akin believes should be tossed aside as he makes the same states rights arguments that could have come from Strom Thurmond’s mouth in the 1940s and ‘50s.
Akin has also proven over and over again that he is no fan of public education and that extends to making sure that the children in our schools have a good breakfast and lunch, keys to learning.
When Akin “clarified” earlier statements on the federal school lunch program in the Jaco interview, he said he only meant that the states should administer the programs, not the federal government. Where the states will come up with the money to make sure children have at least one or two decent meals a day, Akin did not say and he did not appear to be particularly concerned about it.
There are those who say that Akin was quoted out of context when the rape quote was lifted from the Jaco interview. Some will believe that because it is so much easier to think that the media laid in wait for a conservative candidate and ambushed him. It will be easy for them to believe because few of them will bother to check out the complete interview. That requires more effort than a simple kneejerk reaction when a right wing politician reveals what he truly thinks.
Watch the entire interview. This was not an ambush. Jaco asked fair questions which did not appear to bother Akin in the slightest. It was a conversation in which Todd Akin made it clear just how conservative he really was.
Turning the clock back on civil rights, federal election laws, and not allowing the consideration of abortion in the case of rape is opening a direct pathway from the 21st Century to the 19th.
Now is not the time for the media to go out of its way to be fair to Todd Akin. He clearly stated his views in the Jaco interview and he does not get them to take them back just because people finally started to listen to what he has to say.
The congressman’s record goes back two decades. It’s time for the media to stop printing news releases, seeking clarifications, and printing never-ending poll results.
It’s time for the media to do  their job.

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