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Just in time for a midterm election that could hinge on the votes of women, former GOP Senate hopeful Todd Akin is back, and he is pissed. In a new memoir previewed by Politico, Akin says he was telling the truth about lying women who claim they were raped to get out of the consequences of sex – but that he was strong-armed into apologizing by craven GOP bosses.
“My comment about a woman’s body shutting the pregnancy down was directed to the impact of stress of fertilization,” he writes in “Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom.” Akin, who is not a doctor, insists “this is something fertility doctors debate and discuss. Doubt me?”
Why yes, Todd, I do.
“Google ‘stress and infertility,’ and you will find a library of research on the subject.”
Well, that settles it.
With a foreword by Mike Huckabee, “Firing Back” represents the far right’s backlash against a party establishment that is trying to heal its rift with women by changing the way it talks, but not its policies. Huckabee made his own icky Akin-like foray into the realm of women’s biology by claiming earlier this year that Democrats are the party of women who “cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.”
Far from apologizing, Huckabee went out and raised money off the crude comment. Now he’s championing Akin as a martyr to the cowardly GOP leadership that’s afraid of frank talk about slutty women who can’t control their libidos, and cry “rape” instead of taking the consequences of their sluttiness. “[W]e can sit on the bus (in the back!), but they don’t want us to drive the bus!” Huckabee writes in the foreword. The GOP establishment, he claims, was “still bruised that they didn’t beat Todd in the primary,” and used his comments “as their opportunity to take him out and select someone more palatable to their tastes.”
Who turned out to be Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill?
Akin won’t help the GOP project of outreach to African-Americans any more than he will with women, calling abortion an “evil far worse than slavery” and insisting that President Obama’s supporters are the real racists. “Unfortunately, by yelling, ‘Racism!’ every time anyone criticized the president’s policies, Obama’s fellow Democrats and their allies in the media have only aggravated racial tensions.”
When it comes to fighting the charge that Republicans are waging a “war on women,” Akin takes a page from Sen. Rand Paul, who earlier this year did what Akin says Mitt Romney should have in 2012: insisted that former President Clinton is the original warrior against women, because of his affair with Monica Lewinsky and earlier unproven allegations of sexual assault.
Using a woman’s claim that a rough Clinton told her, after an unwanted sexual encounter, “you ought to put some ice on that,” Akin scripts a bizarre retort he says Romney should have used to beat back calls for Akin to leave the Senate race. “[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?” Akin’s imaginary Romney would have declared. “No, not happening, and if the truth hurts, put some ice on it.”
That would definitely have gotten Republicans out of trouble for making light of rape claims.
Akin’s book is unlikely to be a bestseller, but it illustrates the problem the GOP has with taming its woman-fearing far-right flank: They think they are speaking truths the rest of the party believes, but are too cowardly to speak aloud. In some cases, they’re right. Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, likewise believed abortion should be banned even in cases of rape, calling it just “another form of conception” that shouldn’t change beliefs about the sanctity of the fetus. In other cases, they’re wrong – much of the Republican establishment knows the party has gone too far in demonizing women. But they’ve humored them, trading women’s freedom for wingnut votes for more than 30 years, and they don’t know how to kick the habit.
Still, it would be wrong to see Akin as some sort of brave truth teller. Maybe Akin thinks women are lying about rape because he’s a liar himself, since he’s essentially admitting in the book that he was lying when he apologized to Missouri voters for his rape remarks back in 2012. Poor Todd. He doesn’t want to take responsibility for a decision made in the heat of lust – lust for a Senate seat, in his case – so he’s claiming he was cruelly assaulted by party bosses and coerced into apologizing. It’s too bad his conscience didn’t have a way to shut that whole thing down.
Joan Walsh is Salon's editor at large and the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."More Joan Walsh.
Like little stars.
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