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Todd Akin’s Back Again To Talk Of Rape

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 lpitts@miamiherald.com.)

Screenshot: YouTube

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WATCH: Todd Akin’s Comeback Tour Is Still A Disaster

Todd Akin’s disastrous comeback tour continued on Thursday, when the disgraced former congressman attempted to explain his infamous “legitimate rape” comments on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown.

It did not go well.

During the interview, Akin once again walked back his 2012 apology for claiming that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant, because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

“Well, here, let me just try to give you an explanation. Legitimate rape is a law-enforcement term and it’s abbreviation for legitimate case of rape,” Akin told host Chuck Todd. “If I had been choosing my words better, I should have said legitimate case of rape. And I have acknowledged that it is a poor choice of words.”

“The thing that strikes me as odd is this is something that was intentionally misunderstood and twisted for political purposes,” Akin continued, “because it doesn’t make any sense to say a conservative is saying that rape is legitimate.”

Akin then attempted to pivot towards attacking Bill and Hillary Clinton, before Todd pushed back.

“This is still about you. This is still about you classifying rape in this odd way,” Todd insisted. “Should abortion be legal for somebody who has been raped?”

“Here’s the question,” Akin countered. “Should the child conceived in rape have the same right to life as a child conceived in love?”

“I had a number of people on my campaign that were children, that had grown up, that had been conceived in rape,” he added.

When Todd pointed out that this undermines the argument that a woman’s body can “shut down” a rape-induced pregnancy, Akin insisted that “I’m not presenting myself as a doctor,” but pointed to “six recent studies” that back up his bogus science.

There was a thin silver lining for Republicans; although Akin did try to revive his cringeworthy “Bill Clinton is a legitimate rapist” talking point, at least he did not compare himself to Joe McCarthy on national television.

The full interview can be seen in all of its uncomfortable glory below, via MSNBC:

Screenshot: MSNBC

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Todd Akin: I’m A Victim Of The Liberal Media, Just Like Joe McCarthy

Todd Akin’s comeback tour got even weirder on Monday, when the disgraced former congressman compared himself to disgraced former senator Joe McCarthy.

In Akin’s mind, that’s apparently a good thing.

Akin made the surprising parallel during an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“I use McCarthy as an example of someone who was assassinated by the media, so he had no credibility,” Akin told the paper. He went on to add that he was also politically assassinated, by “intentional and dishonest” distortions of the remarks that ended his political career in 2012.

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Those comments led the Republican Party to largely condemn Akin and abandon his campaign to unseat incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Akin went on to lose by 16 percent in what’s usually a reliable red state.

McCarthy, by contrast, used his position in the Senate to lead a baseless witch hunt against supposed communists and homosexuals, leading hundreds to be wrongly imprisoned and thousands to lose their jobs. McCarthy was ultimately censured by the Senate for abusing his power.

Ironically, if Akin had actually been a bit more like McCarthy, his career would likely be in much better shape. After all, making totally unsubstantiated claims that America’s enemies have infiltrated the federal government has been working out just fine for many of Akin’s former colleagues in the House.

But at this point, even those congressmen — like most other Republicans — would probably like Akin to just stop talking.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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Todd Akin Is Back, And More Delusional Than Ever

Former congressman and horrifically failed Senate candidate Todd Akin is back — and he’s still making life miserable for his fellow Republicans.

Akin, whose 2012 bid to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) imploded when he infamously declared that women rarely get pregnant from “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” resurfaced in late June with an ebook titled Firing Back. The central theme of the book, which was published by the right-wing, conspiracy-minded WorldNetDaily, is that Akin was right about rape, and he only lost his election by 16 points because he loves the Constitution too much.

On Thursday, Politico ran excerpts from the book, in which he pointedly walks back the apology that he made for the remarks during the campaign.

“By asking the public at large for forgiveness,” Akin writes, “I was validating the willful misinterpretation of what I had said.”

“My comment about a woman’s body shutting the pregnancy down was directed to the impact of stress on fertilization. This is something fertility doctors debate and discuss,” he continues. “Doubt me? Google ‘stress and infertility,’ and you will find a library of research on the subject.”

(We’ll save you the trouble; Akin is, and always has been, completely wrong.)

In addition to rescinding his apology for the comments that ruined his career and did incalculable damage to the Republican Party’s brand, he revealed how he thinks then-presidential nominee Mitt Romney should have defended Akin’s honor: By making a rape joke.

Akin writes that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney should have defended him by using Clinton’s indiscretions and alleged comment that one woman “put some ice on that” just as Clinton was set to serve as a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. In 2012, Romney denounced Akin’s comments and urged him to drop out of the race.

What Akin believes Romney should have said when asked about the “legitimate rape” comments: “[Bill Clinton] is giving the keynote speech at the Democratic convention in two weeks, and you want me to denounce a decent, God-fearing man for his inelegant comments about rape? No, not happening, and if the truth hurts, put some ice on it.”

Akin’s fantasy speech for Romney, which refers to a discredited allegation that Clinton assaulted a nursing home administrator in the 1970s, reveals the political instincts that crushed his career in the first place. Back in the real world, given a choice between Todd Akin and a wisecracking Mitt Romney vocally defending “legitimate rape,” or Bill Clinton, the most popular politician in the country, it’s not hard to guess with whom voters would side.

But Akin isn’t worried about that; instead, he’s upset that Politico “censored” him by retelling Akin’s anecdote with “[Bill Clinton]” instead of Akin’s original phrase, “A credibly accused rapist.”

Unsurprisingly, Republicans are less than thrilled with Akin’s return to the spotlight.

“Todd Akin is an embarrassment to the Republican Party and the sole reason Claire McCaskill is still part of Harry Reid’s majority,” former National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brian Walsh told Politico. “It’s frankly pathetic that just like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell in 2010, he refuses to take any responsibility for sticking his foot in his mouth, alienating voters and costing Republicans a critical Senate seat. Worse, he’s now trying to make money off his defeat. The sooner he leaves the stage again, the better.”

Similarly, former Romney advisor Kevin Madden noted that “Todd Akin has no one to blame for his loss but Todd Akin,” adding that “Mitt Romney, from Massachusetts, won Missouri by 10 points. Todd Akin lost by 16 points. It’s fairly simple.”

Still, Akin does have his defenders within the party; former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee wrote an enthusiastic forward to Firing Back. Huckabee, who is also no stranger to alienating female voters, insisted that “[W]e can sit on the bus (in the back!), but they don’t want us to drive the bus!,” and explained that the GOP establishment was “still bruised that they didn’t beat Todd in the primary, saw [the comments] as their opportunity to take him out and select someone more palatable to their tastes.”

Yes, in Huckabee’s mind, the NRSC was just waiting for an opportunity to send Claire McCaskill back to the Senate.

And while most Republicans aren’t as vocally supportive as Huckabee is, their party’s official stance on abortion still looks a lot like Akin’s.

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that Republicans have been relieved to avoid devastating gaffes throughout the 2014 election cycle. But Akin’s return to the spotlight should serve as an unpleasant reminder that a legitimate political disaster could always be lurking around the corner in a party that can’t seem get past its fixation on the culture wars.

Screenshot: YouTube

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