Of Spastic Tubes and Isolated Loons: Todd Akin Is Not Alone
When Sean Hannity is begging and pleading for you to end your Senate campaign – as he just did, two days in a row with Congressman Todd Akin – then surely you’re in dire straits. The beseeching from scores of prominent Republicans (including a typically tepid response from Romney) came after Akin’s comments that women’s bodies are somehow able to resist becoming pregnant after “legitimate rape.” And here’s what the GOP outcry would seem to indicate: that Todd Akin is not like the rest of them. That Akin is some grotesque outlier, so far beyond the pale that his beliefs and policies bear no resemblance to his fellow Republicans.
Except that Akin is certainly not an outlier. His beliefs, which came to the surface when “legitimate rape” escaped his lips, were not conjured up in a vacuum. His policies are so cookie-cutter that many of his GOP colleagues have nearly the exact same voting record. And – not to put too fine a point on it – Todd Akin is a six-term Congressman who was just chosen by Missouri Republicans after an expensive 3-way primary. Despite all this, folks like Sean Hannity are desperately trying to make Akin seem like some tragic aberration within their otherwise upstanding party. Let’s see exactly how he’s not.
So did Todd just “use the wrong words in the wrong way,” as he claims? Well, no. Akin was actually parroting the scientifically unsound theories of one Dr. John C. Willke, who explained rape survivors this way: “This is a traumatic thing – she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight. She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.” Only a nutjob would listen to such a crackpot idea, right? Well… turns out that Dr. Spastic Tubes was once a sought-after endorsement in 2007 for Mitt Romney, whose campaign called Willke “an important surrogate for Governor Romney’s pro-life and pro-family agenda.”
OK, so what about Akin’s policies? Congressman Akin must be a terrible exception to the kind of courageous, decent congressperson the GOP usually produces, right? Wrong. If anything, they are cutting these guys from the same anti-choice cloth.
Remember the good ol’ days of 2011, when the 112th Congress was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to redefine rape? I sure do! So when Todd Akin co-sponsored H.R. 3, which attempted to differentiate “forcible rape,” guess who was right there with him? None other than VP nominee Paul Ryan, who has voted with Akin a remarkable 93% of the time. And they had plenty of company! Some of Akin’s other voting buddies (with above an 80% similarity) include New Hampshire’s Charlie Bass, Iowa’s Steve King, Illinois’s Joe Walsh, and Ohio’s Jim Renacci.
In summary: is Todd Akin a vehement anti-choicer who spouts dangerous, unscientific views? Gracious, yes! Is Todd Akin an isolated lunatic, a lone extremist who can find no comfort in a major party platform? Heavens, no! Akin and his allies have become the Republican Party – and he and his ilk are exactly why we must elect pro-choice, Democratic women up and down the ticket.