Commentary Magazine


Topic: Allen

The Todd Akin Fiasco

On Sunday, a six-term Congressman from Missouri running as the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate went on a newsmaker program and, in defense of his pro-life views, reported that doctors say the body of a woman who has suffered a “legitimate rape” will somehow contrive to prevent a pregnancy: “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The moral, intellectual, and spiritual ignoramus who spoke those words is Todd Akin. He won the Missouri primary two weeks ago in a three-way race against two other conservatives, taking 36 percent of the vote—his two major rivals together won about 60 percent. He was supported in his bid by, among others, the Democrats who believed he would be the weakest candidate to face incumbent Claire McCaskill, widely viewed as the most vulnerable incumbent running for Senate this year. They ran ads attacking his rivals and helped him prevail.

Smart move. Akin is likely to join a list of Republican primary winners who have seized defeat from the jaws of victory—like Clayton Williams, who was running a sensational outsider candidacy for Texas governor in 1990 until he remarked that bad weather was like rape. “As long as it’s inevitable,” Williams said, “you might as well lie back and enjoy it.” Those are the words that got Ann Richards elected. Had he kept his mouth shut, he might have won the race. Had he won the race, George W. Bush would not have run to oust Richards in 1994. Had he not run in 1994, George W. Bush would not have become president in 2000.

George Allen of Virginia probably lost an unbelievably close election in 2006 because his candidacy was thrown off course by his weird offhand reference to a South Asian Democratic kid taking video of him at campaign stops as “Macaca.” Rivals suggested he was using a French word for monkey, which then opened up a can of worms about Allen’s mother—who, it turned out, was a North African Jew intent on hiding her own Jewishness. The race went haywire, and even so the Democratic candidate, James Webb, only won by 4/10s of a percent.

Apparently, if Akin withdraws by 5 pm tomorrow, the Missouri Republican party can put up a new candidate to face McCaskill. After that, he’s on the ballot for good. Call this the Bob Torricelli strategy—when the former senator from New Jersey found himself awash in an ethics scandal in 2002, he vamoosed from the race in favor of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg even though there was no legal way for this to be done. No matter. The New Jersey Supreme Court declared it legal, and Democrats retained the seat.

Akin won’t quit, though. He issued a statement yesterday saying he “misspoke,” which means he doesn’t actually think he did anything wrong. Perhaps he will be comforted by that insane knowledge when he is sitting home, unemployed and disgraced, in 2013, with control of the Senate in Democratic hands because of him.

 

On Sunday, a six-term Congressman from Missouri running as the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate went on a newsmaker program and, in defense of his pro-life views, reported that doctors say the body of a woman who has suffered a “legitimate rape” will somehow contrive to prevent a pregnancy: “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The moral, intellectual, and spiritual ignoramus who spoke those words is Todd Akin. He won the Missouri primary two weeks ago in a three-way race against two other conservatives, taking 36 percent of the vote—his two major rivals together won about 60 percent. He was supported in his bid by, among others, the Democrats who believed he would be the weakest candidate to face incumbent Claire McCaskill, widely viewed as the most vulnerable incumbent running for Senate this year. They ran ads attacking his rivals and helped him prevail.

Smart move. Akin is likely to join a list of Republican primary winners who have seized defeat from the jaws of victory—like Clayton Williams, who was running a sensational outsider candidacy for Texas governor in 1990 until he remarked that bad weather was like rape. “As long as it’s inevitable,” Williams said, “you might as well lie back and enjoy it.” Those are the words that got Ann Richards elected. Had he kept his mouth shut, he might have won the race. Had he won the race, George W. Bush would not have run to oust Richards in 1994. Had he not run in 1994, George W. Bush would not have become president in 2000.

George Allen of Virginia probably lost an unbelievably close election in 2006 because his candidacy was thrown off course by his weird offhand reference to a South Asian Democratic kid taking video of him at campaign stops as “Macaca.” Rivals suggested he was using a French word for monkey, which then opened up a can of worms about Allen’s mother—who, it turned out, was a North African Jew intent on hiding her own Jewishness. The race went haywire, and even so the Democratic candidate, James Webb, only won by 4/10s of a percent.

Apparently, if Akin withdraws by 5 pm tomorrow, the Missouri Republican party can put up a new candidate to face McCaskill. After that, he’s on the ballot for good. Call this the Bob Torricelli strategy—when the former senator from New Jersey found himself awash in an ethics scandal in 2002, he vamoosed from the race in favor of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg even though there was no legal way for this to be done. No matter. The New Jersey Supreme Court declared it legal, and Democrats retained the seat.

Akin won’t quit, though. He issued a statement yesterday saying he “misspoke,” which means he doesn’t actually think he did anything wrong. Perhaps he will be comforted by that insane knowledge when he is sitting home, unemployed and disgraced, in 2013, with control of the Senate in Democratic hands because of him.

 

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The Media Catch On: The GOP Is Out to Take Back the House

Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei pronounce: “Republicans aren’t as delusional as some think.” The “some” — in case you missed the bias – is “smart liberals.” They have discovered that, lo and behold, Republicans think they can take back the House. Well, the thinking has been out there for some time, but now Allen and Vandehei, are on the case. They’ve unearthed a secret plan: run against the unpopular Obama agenda. No! Ah, yes. They proceed to tell us that Democrats are in the dumps, a wave is building, and there lots of districts that John McCain carried in 2008 may swing Republican in House races.

The reporters tell us:

48 Democrats now sit in districts won by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008. Nearly every one of these races has at least one credible Republican or will soon get one. In addition, according to National Republican Campaign Committee data, 32 Democrats won with less than 55 percent of the vote in 2008. Of 10 Democratic open seats, Republicans will be on offense in at least eight. In 13 Republican open seats, Democrats have fielded strong challengers in only two.

They hasten to add: “This is the Cantor-GOP spin, but it’s not that far from reality.” (So that means it’s more of fact rather than spin, right?) You sort of wonder where they’ve been for a few months now and what is behind the grumpy reluctance to report what has been apparent for some time now — that the Democrats are in a heap of trouble.

Soon the rest of the media — reluctant as they are to report news adverse to the Democrats — will be following along. Soon it will be conventional wisdom and then anything short of a takeover in the House will be characterized as a phenomenal “win” by Obama. But, really, the predictable media pattern (ignore bad news as long as possible, set the expectations bar, and then spin the results) isn’t all that relevant. If the mainstream media could still influence voters, Creigh Deeds would be governor of Virginia. What matters is the underlying political reality — an electorate that has had it with one-party Democrat rule and wants a course correction. Even the ever-so-helpful liberal media can’t really ignore that.

Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei pronounce: “Republicans aren’t as delusional as some think.” The “some” — in case you missed the bias – is “smart liberals.” They have discovered that, lo and behold, Republicans think they can take back the House. Well, the thinking has been out there for some time, but now Allen and Vandehei, are on the case. They’ve unearthed a secret plan: run against the unpopular Obama agenda. No! Ah, yes. They proceed to tell us that Democrats are in the dumps, a wave is building, and there lots of districts that John McCain carried in 2008 may swing Republican in House races.

The reporters tell us:

48 Democrats now sit in districts won by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008. Nearly every one of these races has at least one credible Republican or will soon get one. In addition, according to National Republican Campaign Committee data, 32 Democrats won with less than 55 percent of the vote in 2008. Of 10 Democratic open seats, Republicans will be on offense in at least eight. In 13 Republican open seats, Democrats have fielded strong challengers in only two.

They hasten to add: “This is the Cantor-GOP spin, but it’s not that far from reality.” (So that means it’s more of fact rather than spin, right?) You sort of wonder where they’ve been for a few months now and what is behind the grumpy reluctance to report what has been apparent for some time now — that the Democrats are in a heap of trouble.

Soon the rest of the media — reluctant as they are to report news adverse to the Democrats — will be following along. Soon it will be conventional wisdom and then anything short of a takeover in the House will be characterized as a phenomenal “win” by Obama. But, really, the predictable media pattern (ignore bad news as long as possible, set the expectations bar, and then spin the results) isn’t all that relevant. If the mainstream media could still influence voters, Creigh Deeds would be governor of Virginia. What matters is the underlying political reality — an electorate that has had it with one-party Democrat rule and wants a course correction. Even the ever-so-helpful liberal media can’t really ignore that.

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