“My View” from the Aug. 20, 2012, edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
For a party intent on closing a gender gap that could spell electoral disaster and pushing back against what it says is a misplaced claim that it’s conducting a metaphorical war on women, the Republican Party sure keeps saying the most remarkable things.
Put aside for the moment persistent efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood, pass personhood and mandatory invasive ultrasound bills, or even to put vehemently anti-choice Paul Ryan on the ticket. Now this from Todd Akin — for now, the Republican Senate candidate from Missouri — a new distinction: legitimate rapes versus illegitimate rapes. Really?
And then Akin informs us, based on the wisdom of the world of fake science that he and others on the far right populate, that the body can shut down a pregnancy in cases of “legitimate” rape. So even in the most extreme cases, abortion should not be legal.
For the record, about 32,000 pregnancies every year result from rape.
Akin has few friends right now, even among his own party, where Mitt Romney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Texas Sen. John Cornyn — who also serves as chairman of the NRSC [National Republican Senatorial Committee] — and virtually every Republican Senate candidate in the states that will determine control of the Senate have turned on him. And that — control of the Senate — is really what is at stake here.
Whether a Republican Party dependent on the tea party controls the Senate is a hugely important issue. Let’s not forget what hinges on this: The capacity to confirm justices and judges, confront serious structural issues in our economy, and keep from sliding into the worldview of fundamentalism that rejects science — all at stake this November.
We should not be fooled that Akin’s statement, merely because it is so offensive and quickly retracted or clarified, is a mere slip. It actually represents the worldview of Akin and his many like-minded Republican colleagues. His comments are part and parcel of a view of civil rights, women’s rights and science that should be antithetical to a modern society. It reflects a worldview that has held up progress on too many serious issues, a form of “know-nothingism” for the modern era, a rejection of the very notion of learning.
So Republican rejection of the statement is fine — and appreciated. But until there is a broader Republican rejection of what the statement stands for, those rejections ring awfully hollow.
That’s “My View.”