Rep. Todd Akin hasn’t changed. His recent “gaffes” are no different from scores of similar incidents during his decade in the House – and, in fairness, to call them gaffes is to mispeak since the congressman seems to be doing no more than expressing his essential self and deepest beliefs. If he’s generating lots more media noise right now, it’s because the level of attention accorded to an insignificant, mostly do-nothing, House member differs from the spotlight that is shone on a candidate for a significant state-wide office. The new situation in which he finds himself is also heightened by the struggle that is currently being waged for the control of the Senate. Akin can no longer fade into the woodwork of a House of Representatives that harbors numerous other GOP ideologues who are just as if not more bizarre than he (think Joe Walsh, Virginia Fox, etc.).
Given this context, I was certainly expecting the level of attention to become more intense. But, I have to admit, I was not expecting Akin to become a such a national byword that his new-found ignominy could be used as an overt weapon against other GOPers. Take, for instance, this ad, produced by New York Democratic Congressional candidate Dan Maffei in his campaign against Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-25), who co-sponsored a bill with Akin that would have redefined rape as “forcible” rape only:
More power to Maffei I say, and I hope that the example of Todd Akin, who so aptly expresses the plain, unvarnished anti-women agenda of today’s Republican party, helps to wake up complacent Americans who think that the status quo will hold with no effort from them. For those who think “legitimate rape” is a awkward fluke, back in January of 2011 I wrote about the Akin-Buerkle bill, HR3:
Abortion is, of course, still legal in the U.S., and would continue to be so if HR3 is passed since it only pertains to restrictions on public funding. Its provisions are far reaching enough, though, that, if passed, it could have a vastly more far-reaching impact, even for those of us who rely on private insurance. Since the 86% of insurance plans that offer abortion coverage would no longer be tax-deductible for employers, the number of those plans would almost inevitably dwindle along with affordable access to abortion for the middle classes as well as the poor, who, at first glance, would seem to be most likely to be seriously affected.
It is the rape and incest provisions, however, that offer the best picture of the sclerotic mindset behind this proposed legislation. HR3 would restrict abortion funding for individuals who find themselves pregnant as a result of coercion or intimidation, sexually abused children, and pregnant rape victims who were drugged, given alcohol, or who are mentally impaired. Since HR3 rejects current federal definitions of rape and does not define forcible rape explicitly, it is even possible that all cases of rape could be addressed in such a way as to fall outside the exemptions. As for incest, our GOP representatives evidently think it’s just fine if the victim is over 18.
If Missourians send Todd Akin to the Senate, they’ll only have themselves to blame for the consequences.