Todd Akin is a Republican member of the House of Representatives. He has a shot at becoming the next United States Senator from here in Missouri.
He is most famous for his biologically challenged view that "legitimate" rape does not result in pregnancy because the rape victim's reproductive ability is interrupted by the trauma. That was a bit of a hit against his candidacy because it was recorded as part of a television interview. His initial reaction was surprise that anyone objected.
You'll find similar informational points of light in the Fellowship Halls of occasional churches. The religious belief that full human rights are endowed by our Creator at the moment of conception seems a self-evident fact to those raised in that strain of our faith. The countervailing idea that each woman has rights that supersede those of a blastocyst seems to some to be against common sense itself, as well as against the Lord.
It is not closed mindedness, exactly. It represents a lack of contact with other viewpoints. It comes close to unawareness that other ideas even exist in any meaningful sense. A philosophical position that does not recognize itself as a debate proposition is not prepared for rejection. The fall of "personhood" referendums in conservative states do not really serve as a wake up call. It is hard to awaken from pure and simple normalcy.
Todd Akin simply has never thought of his conservative ideas as at all controversial. They are Jack Webb truths: just the facts, ma'am. And facts are subject to the sort of objective verification that are denied to philosophical positions. In the Todd Akin universe, the universe of many conservatives, full rights for a fertilized egg, and a corresponding denial of full rights for the woman who carries it, is quite provable. In fact, various proofs are necessary for the enlightenment of those who live in the darkness, and to validate those who live in the truth.
Taking a philosophical position, a premise that needs no proof, and treating it as a fact, leads to asides that the outside world, the population outside the circle of holy brethren, can regard as absurdities.
In that realm of provable fact, women who are truly raped, not faking it, not using it as some excuse, have no need of abortion. Doctors who perform abortions are murderers. More than that, because they are immoral, they commit other crimes as well. They cheat on taxes, they behave fraudulently, they perform abortions on women who are not really pregnant in order to pocket extra income. Abortion causes breast cancer. Early abortions result in pain for the unborn, neocortex or not. The proofs go on and on.
The doctors-who-fake-abortions-for-profit story gained some notoriety when Todd Akin suggested it on the floor of the House of Representatives. After all, to Representative Akin, it is a well-known, indisputable fact. It is for many. After all, when you hear it in conversation at a church, it is impervious to challenge.
The facts that prove a non-factual position will often lead to a Todd Akin.
Corollary beliefs about women, and about life in general, tend to place Representative Akin into a bewilderment. How can anyone think routine things are to challenged?
Those who saw the last Senatorial debate between Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill and challenger Akin witnessed the Senator call attention to some of the views Mr. Akin sees as normal. She was no more aggressive than any debate would call for. Mr. Akin criticized her as "unladylike." Although the notion that a Senator running for reelection ought to curtsy to her male opponent as she makes her dainty points may seem quaint, Mr. Akin thought nothing about advancing it as a serious criticism. She was not legitimately ladylike.
The reaction to similar statements seems to be a perpetual surprise to Todd Akin. The idea that discrimination against women should be prohibited is a bad idea. It is an affront to free enterprise. If employers want to pay women less than men for the same work, well that's what freedom is all about.
Pell Grants help talented kids who come from impoverished homes make it through college. Todd Akin is on record, again on video in a public speech, opposing it. When he called Pell Grants the "stage III cancer of socialism," he was surprised that anyone took exception.
When he said that Medicare was unconstitutional, when he criticized Social Security as a foreign idea imposed by a tyrannical President ("I didn’t design Social Security. It actually came from Bismarck, FDR put it in place."), he thought he was simply stating conventional wisdom.
His ideas are shared by other Republicans, coming into what Republicans regard as the mainstream. Todd Akin voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that makes it easier for women to prove discrimination. He was joined in opposing equality for women by almost every Republican in the House of Representatives. When he co-sponsored a bill that would recognize only "forcible rape" it was a bill sponsored by Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate. The Romney proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program is seen by Republicans as completely reasonable.
When Representative Akin theorized that legitimate rape does not result in pregnancy, Mitt Romney and other Republicans condemned the comments as ignorant. Representative Akin himself has taken that one back. Republicans are beginning to come home to the Akin candidacy. His other views are apparently acceptable to the GOP.
But the charge of ignorance is misplaced, in at least this sense: Todd Akin's continuing flow of ideas, casually propounded each week in Missouri, do not come from ignorance.
They come from unfettered certainty.
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Everyone else in the election is of no consequence. They have no chance of winning. If you are voting for a third party candidate, you might as well stay home and save the gas as far as the presidential race is concerned.
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