Republicans around the country hopeful to gain control of both executive and legislative branches of government are fuming amidst the wreckage caused by Congressman Todd Akin, GOP senate candidate of Missouri. Akin’s remark to St. Louis KTVI, that a woman’s body, victimized by “legitimate rape,” has the capacity to thwart pregnancy has become the cause célèbre for Democrats to rally unlikely female voters to make it to the polls in November. The candidate’s refusal to exit the race prior to the statutory deadline has complicated matters further.
The remark, while scientifically inaccurate, alienates at least half of the electorate. Are some rapes illegitimate? Is Congressman Akin implying that some victims of rape want it? Did their style of dress send some signal that this was the case? Or are there that many victims of rape that make false allegations? The term “legitimate rape” delegitimizes victims. The idea that some innate hocus pocus of mind over body can prevent a pregnancy is delusional.
Some Republicans have begun to rationalize the incident in the natural evaluation/re-evaluation process. In theory, this remark could have come from a higher profile candidate. Akin could have doubled down on stupid and refused to acknowledge the absurdity of his remark. Akin could have bowed out as the GOP candidate only to run as an independent, guaranteeing embattled Senator Claire McCaskill retain her seat.
Such rationalizations should not be applied. Republicans must understand that Akin’s rape remark is like an infectious disease that has potential to infect the Republican brand just in time for the election. There isn’t a politician of a higher profile in this country (save Joe Biden) that could err this badly. While Akin has apologized for the statement, he doesn’t view it a disqualifying offense and has refused to pull out of the race. And for better or worse, Sarah Palin is calling for a third party candidate to cut Akin’s senate bid off at the knees.