Huckabee, Limbaugh and Hannity all were talking about Todd Akin, the Missouri Senate candidate who got in trouble for saying what he really thinks about rape. Huckabee, of course, is defending Akin. Hannity’s view is more like, he’s a nice guy, but he’s got to go for the good of the party. Limbaugh was closer to Lenin: If you want to make an omelette …
Huckabee expressed surprise, which I share, that this has drawn so much attention. It makes sense that liberals would be all over it; the MSNBC hosts were practically peeing in their pants with excitement. But I would have expected Republicans to hold fire — or at least to put away their weapons after firing off a round or two.
After all, Akin didn’t really misspeak. I’m willing to grant that “legitimate rape” was just a poor choice of words, although it is hard to tell what word would have worked. Akin himself has suggested that he should have said “forcible rape,” but if that is the rug he hoped to hide under, Paul Ryan quickly jerked it away. Ryan has voted for bills that refer to forcible rape, but in an interview this week, he acknowledged that “forcible rape” is indistinguishable from “rape.”
Even if we grant Akin a little more time to decide what word he actually meant instead of “legitimate,” there’s no doubt that he was fundamentally expressing what he truly at the bottom of his heart believes. It’s not clear to what extent his supporters in the Republican primary knew that when they voted for him, but it cannot have come as a big surprise.
It isn’t crazy to think that women might be less likely to become pregnant from rape than otherwise. It might even have evolutionary advantages. It’s not unreasonable that the body might decide that women under high stress for whatever reason are less likely to produce thriving babies, so it would be better just to call off the whole thing until conditions are more favorable.
The fact that there seems to be no scientific evidence that this actually happens is no obstacle to Akin’s belief. I’m guessing that he isn’t too interested in scientific evidence about evolution or climate change, either. Certainly, if God wanted to keep raped women from becoming pregnant, He could do that, and He could conceal the mechanism that made it happen, too.
What Akin can’t get around is not his odd belief but its horrendous implication: If a pregnant woman claims she was raped, she must either be lying or she secretly enjoyed it. That’s just an indefensible proposition, even for those who think it might be true.
That leaves people who think as Akin does in a terrible quandary. They can’t say what they really think, but they also can’t retreat from their belief that raped women should have to bear unwanted babies. If the Personhood Amendment means anything, it means that innocent babies should not be punished just because someone else committed the crime of rape. Therefore, people like Akin tell themselves, the woman must be forced to bear the child, and if it is right to punish her, then she must have done something wrong.
So the problem is not what Akin believes; the problem is that it sticks to other members of his party who believe very similar things. Huckabee is man enough to face up to those dire implications; the rest appear to be on the run.
Fortunately, I caught a few minutes of Michael Savage, who assured me that American democracy no longer exists. We are now living in a dictatorship. That was a relief. If Obama is running the whole show, then I no longer need to trouble my head over the intricacies of abortion politics.
But I had a nagging thought: If Obama is a dictator, why is he allowing Michael Savage to remain on the air? If I were dictator, my first act would be to get rid of Michael Savage’s show. My second would be to get rid of Michael Savage.
Apparently other listeners had the same nagging concern. One caller asked how Savage could sleep at night knowing that government thugs might haul him away at any moment. Savage at first said he was considering leaving the country and living on a fishing boat, then he conceded that he believed he was probably safe until the election.
Note to Savage: If you believe that Obama would peacefully surrender power following the election, then you don’t really believe he is a dictator. Guess I will have to keep worrying about abortion after all.