Even if you follow politics closely (in which case we share your addiction and we pity you), there’s very little chance that you knew the name Todd Akin before this weekend. Akin is a current Senate candidate from the proud state of Missouri, and he recently committed a prize-worthy PR gaffe.
Here goes: The host of a talk show called the Jaco Report (yeah, we’d never heard of it either) asked Akin to explain his opposition to abortion in every single possible instance ever, and the aspiring senator dropped this clunker:
“First of all, 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.”
Wow. Akin just gave a big gift to his opponent, the struggling Senator Claire McCaskill. We’re not even sure what was trying to say. He seemed to be implying that the female anatomy includes some sort of naturally occurring contraceptive mechanism to prevent impregnation in cases of rape and that allowing victims to undergo abortions would somehow encourage women to lie about their pregnancies. You can follow his logic to any number of conclusions, none of them encouraging.
Akin followed this gem of a performance with an official response that amounts to “I meant what I said, I just said it wrong”:
“…it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year…But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”
Nice dodge, but the damage is done. The most surprising element of this story so far is the speed with which Akin’s fellow Republicans have rushed to denounce him. Another hilarious fact: the state Democratic Party actually spent money supporting him in his primary contest; presumably in order to exploit his proven ability to comfortably fit his entire foot into his mouth. How did they know? In the past he recommended that divorce lawyers act to confirm spousal rape claims, because women might just pretend to have been raped by their husbands in order to win more favorable settlements. He never really explained that statement, because how could he?
Well, Akin delivered the goods, and we can almost hear the frustrated grunts of his staffers as they try to figure out how to nip this one in the bud. The election is more than two months away, so we can only hope that someone will issue a gaffe that meets Akin’s own very high standards before it’s all over. Attention candidates everywhere: the bar has been set.
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