Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh My Akin Breakin' Heartland

I have just returned to Missouri from a pleasant summer in upstate New York. I teach part time here in the heartland. It was very hot all summer in Missouri. The temperatures are just beginning to settle down to near normal levels, and then, boom! The political world is lit up like a bonfire as a result of what one Missouri congressman said, and what a Kansas Congressman did. One dipped into the unholy waters of the Abortion/Rape debate, and the other, a Freshman Republican Congressman from Kansas went skinny dipping in the Holy Sea of Galilee.
Just when you think this year’s political campaign season could not get any worse, or any weirder, it does.   Enter Reps. Kevin Yoder and Todd Akin.
      There’s something about Missouri. It is where the country usually pivots. And courtesy of Akin’s foot-in-mouth disease, we now have another pivotal moment from Missouri that could be an epiphany or just plain apocryphal for the chances of Republican ascendancy come November.
Congressman Akin just won the nomination for the Senate from Missouri. He is running against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, whose chances of re-election, until now, had been rather dim. Akin actually said that women who are raped can effectively will away a pregnancy, so there is no need to allow a woman who is a victim of “legitimate rape” — as opposed to illegitimate rape? — to choose to abort such a resultant pregnancy. In essence, he theorized that somehow you can’t get pregnant unless you enjoyed the rape.The sad thing is, he apparently meant it.
OK, since you can pray away the gay, why can’t you also pray away the day you got raped? Maybe he meant that the power of positive thinking can cause you to self-abort? Who knows?
     Most Americans, including me, firmly believe in the power of prayer, and positive intention, but this comment takes it to a whole different dimension.
     Akin could be the 51st vote that would give Republicans control of the Senate. He is from the western suburbs of St. Louis — and the Michele Bachmann school of religiosity in politics. He was trained as a divinity student and later became an engineer. Politics, however, and the strong support of Tea Party type Conservatives in Missouri, have allowed him to take the national stage in a way that is not entirely flattering to Missouri. His statement, or misstatement as he calls it, was front-page national political news, but was buried on Page 6 of Monday’s Joplin Globe.
I guess it is a sad thing for the Republican Party that he is from Missouri, and he showed us.
He showed us what prominent Republican strategist Craig Shirley said is true. Shirley said that the Republicans are becoming the party of “intoxication, intolerance and idiocy.” If top Republicans are saying that, just imagine what the Democrats might say.
And GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is closely allied with this guy. Their stances on most issues are very similar. Ryan and Akin both serve on the Ways and Means Committee together, and have jointly sponsored legislation which would prohibit abortion, except in the case of “forcible” rape, as if rape of any kind (other than statutory) is consensual. As President Obama said correctly, “Rape is rape!”

Congressman  Yoder is from the western suburbs of Kansas City, Mo., (which suburbs happen to be in Kansas). He and a bunch of other Freshmen Republican frat boy types went for an ale begotten moonlight  swim on a junket to the sea of Galilee. Yoder , apparently the boldest of the allegedly boozed up bunch, admits that he actually stripped off all his clothes to skinny dip where Jesus so famously walked on water. Alas, there are no calls from the National Republican leadership for his ouster. Why is that?

     He demonstrated a different kind of forgivable stupidity than his cohort Congressman Akin. Akin's mistake was to wade into the waters of a debate about abortion that Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Karl Rove and others want to avoid. Akin, though fully clothed at the time of his verbal gaffe, just waded into the wrong waterway. He would have been better off to dive head first into the Red Sea in his BVD's as part of a stunt on The Jackass TV program. That would be forgivable, but blowing the cover of the anti -women agenda of the GOP, and potentially losing to Claire McCaskill, and losing a Republican controlled Senate as a result,  is just inexcusable. Besides,  Congressman Yoder doesn't even have a Democratic opponent.
     I guess it boils down to this: Jesus forgives sinning skinny dippers, but women whose rights  have been  scorned by the GOP will remember  Akin- like jackasses like Elephants do. They will never forget.

So Congressman Yoder survives, and Congressman Akin is mortally wounded, but soldiers on.  What to make of this conondrum?

How does Paul Ryan set himself free from Akin?
The answer is, he can’t. Yoder can stay, but Akin has to go, or Ryan becomes a huger liability for Romney than he already is.  And so far, he shows no signs of going. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Kansas and Missouri show us again what is really going on. Woe are we. And woe unto the GOP...big time.