Wednesday, February 27, 2013

#442: Todd Akin

I suppose most readers are familiar with William Todd Akin. In any case, he was the U.S. Representative for Missouri's 2nd congressional district, serving from 2001 to 2013, a leading member of The Family, and member of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. Despite the fact that he failed eighth-grade health class, Akin used to sit on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Akin is of course most famous for losing his run for a Senate seat in 2012. During the campaign, Akin managed to elicit angry reactions from sane and decent people across the United States when he argued that there was no need for an exception to abortion laws to account for rape victims who had become pregnant, since “legitimate rape” cannot result in pregnancy, because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down", thus precluding a victim's need for an abortion.” Consequently, abortion providers are “terrorists,” because they sometimes perform abortions on women who “are not actually pregnant.” (Note the absence of a logical connection between the claims, which is easy to overlook because of the inherent stupidity of either). In 1987, Akin was arrested for blocking a reproductive services clinic for the usual reasons, a story that he proudly recounted to a public anti-choice demonstration in March 2011.

This is perhaps the most perceptive commentary on his statements during the Senate race.

The statements led to some controversy, and for a while it looked like the Republican party would withdraw their support for him (in the end they didn’t), a possibility that his wife Lulli said would be “just like the abuses of King George, when British troops raped our wives and daughters.” Akin himself said that criticism of him was just like when Muslims behead people (and I recommend taking a second to think about how abysmally stupid that claim is). Throughout his tribulations Akin retained the support of pseudohistorian David Barton (as well as the usual suspects), who had earlier compared Akin to biblical figures and likened him to the Founding Fathers. Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway told Akin to withstand the controversy that emerged following his comments just like David Koresh withstood the ATF at Waco. (Where the hell do they dig up these people?) AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer, never one to let himself be outcrazied, later claimed that Akin`s “completely accurate” statements were living proof that the Republican Party is not “the stupid party”.

Akin has also claimed that “there is no science behind evolution”, and that “it seems to me that evolution takes a tremendous amount of faith,” but given his understanding of reproduction one can somewhat see why the science behind evolution has thus far eluded him.

Although public awareness of Akin may have been bolstered during the 2012 elections, there was nothing new or surprising about his positions. Previously, he was most famous for saying that “at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God.” He did, of course, offer an “apology”: “My statement during my radio interview was directed at the political movement, Liberalism, not at any specific individual.” I don’t think that counts as an apology or in any sense implies that Akin was less than sincere. To ensure that we all wouldn’t fail to see how crazy he is, he also called the Bible a “blueprint to tell us about economics” and “about education”.

Akin was predictably outraged when NBC took “under God” out of the pledge of allegiance, finding it “tremendously corrosive in terms of all of the values and everything that's made America unique and such a special nation.” Right. Akin must apparently have learned his history, philosophy, and especially history of ideas, from his supporter David Barton (indeed): “This is a systematic effort to try to separate our faith and God, which is a source in our belief in individual liberties, from our country.” Indeed, most of his reactions to “value”-matters are predictably insane. He has, for instance, argued that abortion leads to illegal immigration and against any curbing of emissions to prevent global warming by claiming that he doesn’t want the seasons to stop changing – he claims that the evidence for global warming has appeared thin to him, and the arguments cited should really show how well equipped he is to address the issue of scientific evidence for climate change. He has also been opposedto stem cell research because it “would lead to a dark dystopia where people are just numbers.” The evidence was a story written by his young daughter, a story that also left the mechanism that initiated the dystopia somewhat mysterious.

Akin appears to have got his reproduction claim from one Jack Willke, a loyal Romney supporter and a central figure in Romney’s 2008 campaign.

Diagnosis: Abysmally stupid and ragingly insane, which is a killer combo that seems to have gained him a fair number of votes among the more reality- and decency-challenged segments of Missouri voters.

1 comment:

  1. This is a rather fascinating essay on various wingnut claims about reproduction and rape (suggesting the origin of Akin's claims on the issue, for instance).