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'I must have meant to say something else. I wonder what.'

Friday, August 24, 2012

For most politicians, any publicity is good publicity -- as long as you get the name right.

By the time you read this, Todd Akin will either still be the Republican candidate running against incumbent Claire McCaskill for one of Missouri's U.S. Senate seats, or he will be a has-been. All because of the publicity he generated during an interview last week.

Let's look at it from both sides. Until Akin sought the GOP nomination in a much-ballyhooed primary, few Missourians outside his district in Congress, where he has served six terms, knew who Akin was. He won the Senate primary, in part, because supporters of McCaskill spent gobs of money painting him as the most conservative of all conservatives. This appealed to some Republican voters, and it served McCaskill's purposes, because Akin was widely regarded as the most beatable in the November general election.

Strange politics, yes. But what do you expect these days?

Akin is opposed to abortions. All abortions. His staunch stand has made him the darling of many conservatives and religious purists. In an interview he was asked if he would support abortion for rape victims. His answer was like lighting a keg of gunpowder.

Now Akin is widely known by voters all over Missouri. Heck, he made front-page headlines from Seattle to Boston. His remarks in response to the interview question became the lead story of TV and radio news programs.

In short, Todd Akin had arrived.

Like so many political candidates with severe cases of foot-in-mouth disease, Akin responded to criticism by simply stating that he made a mistake. Surely, he said, Missourians understand that folks make mistakes and kindheartedly accept the apologies that follow.

Well, yes. Missourians are a forgiving lot. That would be the only explanation for dozens of successful elections by other candidates in the state who have pulled their brogans from between their teeth.

But was Akin's stupid remark, about women who are raped, a mistake?

Surely the interview question was not the first time Akin had ever pondered, even for an instant, the ramifications of rape. Surely he knows enough about biology to understand that his answer was both malicious and goofy.

Akin's "apology" was hollow. It lacked any expression of understanding that what he said needed to be replaced by the candidate's own words demonstrating even the vaguest comprehension of what he had done.

If Akin hangs on to his questionable candidacy -- which he won fair and square, according to McCaskill -- he will have sent a message that screwball statements are just fine as long as you are prepared to follow up with a "Sorry, I made a mistake" news release.

Sometimes candidates need to face up to their failures and weaknesses. But Akin's comments have led many hearers to wonder if he has the brainpower to know how damaging his remarks were.

Now he wants to join the Club of 100. Will the state that elected a dead candidate to the U.S. Senate now become the state that elects someone who is brain-dead, someone who said women who are raped don't need abortion because they don't get pregnant?

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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Even more important than that is why didn't Bill Clinton go to jail for the sexual assault of Kathleen Willey? For the sexual harassment of Paula Jones? For sending Arkansas State Troopers to bring her to his room so he can drop his pants and tell her to "kiss it?"


No ... he's going to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention next month. Democrats ... spare me the selective outrage at Akin's words. (Eyes rolling)



-- Posted by bzimmerly on Fri, Aug 24, 2012, at 9:33 AM

I thought this article was about Akin???

-- Posted by chinook on Fri, Aug 24, 2012, at 10:20 AM

bzimmerly, really, "even more important" - now? And I didn't even realize that Bill Clinton was running for an office this time around. I don't know about you, but it seems that a lot of the outrage was coming from the Republican leadership. Probably because Akin is such a bonehead. Anywho - perhaps you need to take that discussion up with YOUR party.

-- Posted by Username1 on Fri, Aug 24, 2012, at 3:16 PM

Bzimmerly, shifting the subject of conversation doesn't take away from Akin's culpability! If he wants his ideas to win he would get out!! He is single handedly destroying the conservative movement up and down the ballot. How does he live with himself?

-- Posted by bionicrotor on Sat, Aug 25, 2012, at 7:10 AM

"Election, schmelection!"

The party elite will make an enormous tactical error if they replace the winner of the Senate primary with someone whose name they pull out of a hat.


The grassroots is on the steep segment of the learning curve. They are learning about how the party elite do things, and just what the elite think about the grassroots' right to vote. The rank and file will remember this for a long time.

-- Posted by Givemeliberty on Sat, Aug 25, 2012, at 7:26 AM

The real danger of Todd is that most of the positions he takes on abortion, Social Security, Medicare, student loans, school lunches, etc., ARE part of the Republican platform, but aren't supposed to be discussed in public. Yet, it's these issues that Todd feels most strongly about; he knows jobs and the economy are important, but those issues don't inspire him. Terry Schiavo and zygotes fire his spirit and he becomes an evangelist rather than a politician.

So, when a politician like Romney is forced to confront a "side-issue" like the cost of education, he slides past with suggestions for "shopping around" or "borrowing from parents", whereas Todd-the-evangelist will voluntarily equate student loans with "third stage cancer of socialism". It's not just that Todd will self-crucify with his justifications and explanations, it's that he is eager to bring issues to the forefront when the Democrats have more pleasing answers for the masses (more federally guaranteed student loans, more Pell grants and more deficit).

It's not that Todd's goals are irrational, despite the fact that his justifications and his priorities are. Yet, if he continues his quest, he will expose the irrationality of his party.

-- Posted by SPSLE on Sat, Aug 25, 2012, at 11:48 AM

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Joe Sullivan
River City Journal