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Monday, October 24, 2016

So, Todd Akin is back and he’s talking rape again.

You remember what happened last time. The would-be Missouri senator torpedoed his campaign two years ago after suggesting in a TV interview that if a woman is a victim of “legitimate rape,” she is unlikely to get pregnant because her body “has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Those comments, he now wants you to know, were perfectly reasonable. In his new book, Firing Back, Akin informs us that some rapes are not “legitimate” because some women falsely accuse. And when he spoke about a woman’s body shutting “that whole thing down,” well, he was referring to the possibility rape-related “stress” would inhibit her ability to conceive.

As its title suggests, Firing Back is about settling scores. Among its targets: “evil” Democrats, “biased” media and “spineless” Republicans who joined the chorus of condemnation his quote engendered, unwilling to stand up for an “unapologetic conservative.”

For the record, the conservative in question was in fact quite apologetic when the “legitimate rape” controversy brought international opprobrium down upon him. He released a statement asking forgiveness and claiming he misspoke. I opined at the time that his real problem was not that he misspoke, but that “he spoke all too clearly.”

Looks like he agrees. Because one of the major takeaways from this book is Akin’s retraction of his apology. He shouldn’t have done it, he says now. By apologizing, he validated “the willful misinterpretation” of his words.

Akin has certainly picked an interesting time to dredge this back up. In recent months, his party has embarked on an effort to re-brand itself. Its slogan might be (but isn’t), “Try the new GOP, now with 25 percent less crazy!”

Of course, “crazy” (read: Tea Party) has been the GOP’s sine qua non — indeed, its energy source — for years now. Call it the politics of pitchforks or just the politics of anger, an ideology defined less by ideas than by overweening resentment, simplistic solutions, rhetorical arson, and unrelenting opposition to any and every thing Barack Obama does, down to and including breathing. It made political stars out of the unlikely likes of Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Christine O’Donnell, Herman Cain and Akin himself.

But that’s so 2012. Having seen the hated president sail to re-election and sensing opportunity in the coming midterms, the grown-ups in the party are busily trying to disentangle themselves from the lover’s embrace they not so long ago cherished. “I don’t care what they do,” snapped House Speaker John Boehner about the Tea Party back in December. A recent Huffington Post analysis found the GOP’s establishment wing pouring money like Kool-Aid into primary races against Tea Party challengers.

“Can the GOP Be a Party of Ideas?” asks a recent New York Times magazine story. Let us hope it can. That would be a welcome thing.

But crazy will not be denied. Like a stalkerish ex who can’t take “Get the hell away from me!” for an answer, crazy keeps popping up at the most inopportune places and times. Here’s the party trying to recast itself in a more serious vein, trying to prove it is not divorced from reality. And there’s Sarah Palin talking impeachment. There’s Chris McDaniel talking election fraud. There’s Dick Cheney, talking.

And there’s Todd Akin retracting an insincere apology for one of the more profoundly stupid and offensive comments in recent political memory.

The GOP can’t seem to get out of its own way. It’s enough to make you feel empathy for the grown-ups — all four of them — in the party as they try without success to end this toxic relationship. Apparently, Neil Sedaka was right.

Breaking up is hard to do.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL, 33132. Readers may contact him via email at [email protected])

Screenshot: YouTube

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  • Dominick Vila

    Considering the fact that the odds are against us in November, the best thing that could happen to us is to have and hear as many Akins’ as possible. If anybody, not only women, had any doubts about what is in the minds to those who oppose the use of contraceptives, and birth control in general, just listen to Akin. He is a living caricature of out of touch – idiotic – Republicans.

  • Billie

    What in the world is legitimate anyway. He made it sound as if it were perfectly legal

    • old_blu

      That’s what I was thinking.
      Only the non “legitimate” rape is illegal?

    • ralphkr

      According to the Bible rape is not illegal but an acceptable, nay, admirable practice.

  • Sand_Cat

    Why does “crazy” keep “popping up”? Could be because crazy is the real GOP.

  • plc97477

    akin is the best thing to happen to the dems in a long time. Keep talking akin.

    • neeceoooo

      You took the words right out of my hands, I was going to say “let them continue”.