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The Akin Panic

Whittaker Chambers said that “the great failing of American conservatives is they do not retrieve their wounded.”

He had it right, as Todd Akin can testify.

In an interview that aired last Sunday, Akin, the Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri, was asked whether he opposed abortions for women who had been raped. Akin’s reply:

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. … If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. …


“But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

As no rape is “legitimate,” this was a colossal gaffe.

Yet anyone reading his statement knows what Akin meant. He was saying that in an actual rape–from what doctors have told him–the likelihood of pregnancy is rare. But if a pregnancy did occur, the punishment should be imposed on the rapist not the unborn child.

This was the moral position of those extremists John Paul II and Ronald Reagan. Of more interest, then, was the Republican reaction.

Howls for Akin to get out of the race came from pundits, talk show hosts, members of the Senate and the GOP’s monied elite that is raising hundreds of millions in hope of a sweep of both houses of Congress and the White House in November. Akin is henceforth not to get a dime.

Even Paul Ryan, whose position on abortion appears identical to that of Akin, called and urged him to drop out.

Who came to Akin’s defense? The Family Research Council. As President Nixon once told me, “Count your friends when you’re down.”

What does this hysteria over one egregious gaffe reveal?

A deep-seated fear, a gnawing anxiety among Republicans that the positions they have held and hold on social and moral issues, and even on economics and foreign policy, no longer command the support of a majority of their countrymen.

Consider. While the three amigos–John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham–are all for intervention in Syria, the Republican Party has fallen largely silent.

Where are the Republican and neocon hawks of yesteryear now that Barack Obama is pulling out of Afghanistan, when the expected result of a U.S. withdrawal is a Taliban takeover and massacre of many of those Afghans foolish enough to have cast their lot with the Americans?

Any Republicans demanding we stay the course in Afghanistan?

Rather than hearing the old paeans to free trade we used to get from Bush I and II, Republicans now talk about getting tough with China and fighting the “unfair” trade practices of foreign regimes.

Milton Friedman, whose writings Republicans once read as gospel, said we should throw America’s markets open to the world, no matter the protectionist policies of others, because cheaper imports benefit all of America’s consumers.

No Republican talks like that anymore. Yet none seems to have a solution to these endless trade deficits debilitating our economy other than to ignore them or accuse the Chinese of “currency manipulation.”

With homosexual marriage gaining converts among the young, the party of the Moral Majority declines to stand with Chick-fil-A.

On right-to-life, see the Republicans flee from Todd Akin, who committed a gaffe while restating his support for what has been a plank of the Republican platform since 1980.

Bewailing deficits, Republicans demand a balanced budget. And the Ryan budget does that–in 28 years.

Why so long? Because real budget cuts entail real pain.

Where is Mitt Romney going to slash a budget that consumes a fourth of the U.S. economy?

Not defense. Mitt promises to increase that. He cannot cut interest on the debt, which must rise as interest rates climb from today’s near-zero levels. He says he will not cut Medicare.

Is he going to cut Social Security? How about taking an ax to Medicaid, food stamps, student loans, school lunches, Head Start, aid to education, Pell Grants, EPA, the FBI and the earned income tax credit?

What the reactions to Akin’s gaffe and the congressional skinny-dipper in the Sea of Galilee expose is a fear in the soul of the GOP that history is passing it by and the end may be near.

For decades, the GOP has been the party that cuts marginal tax rates, opposes abortion, defends traditional marriage, sends troops to fight for our values abroad and slashes government spending.

Today’s GOP establishment is queasy even talking about social issues and recognizes that the new America has had it with the Afghanistans and Iraqs, wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent and contains scores of millions who will punish any politician
who threatens their benefits.

The GOP’s insoluble problem is that the multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual country they created with their open borders appears not to like the brand of dog food the party sells.

Beating up on Todd Akin is not going to change that.

Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of TAC and the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? [1]” Copyright 2012 Creators.com [2]

28 Comments (Open | Close)

28 Comments To "The Akin Panic"

#1 Comment By Gerard On August 24, 2012 @ 8:04 am

Yeah, what incentive do I have in voting Republican? More defense spending and more wars? Less taxes for
liberal hedge fund managers in Weston, CT? The GOP sold its soul to/for Wall Street, cheap labor, and the defense industrial complex. And despite its policies it continued to get support from working guys who listened to Limbaugh and Hannity while driving their work trucks. But the GOP policies saw to it that those guys became a smaller and smaller percentage of the population.

#2 Comment By Tom Piatak On August 24, 2012 @ 8:24 am

An excellent column.

#3 Comment By icarusr On August 24, 2012 @ 8:34 am

“He was saying that in an actual rape–from what doctors have told him–the likelihood of pregnancy is rare.”

Fail, Mr. Buchanan. Only one doctor, apparently, and he, a quack.

The very success of Ryan tells you that being in favour of denying abortion even to rape victims is not a political barrier. What you describe as a “colossal gaffe”, however, resonated among women, and caused panic among the GOP grandees, not because of the pro-life position of Akin, and not just because of the stupid qualifier, but because, yet again, a moronic GOPer was trying to justify ideology on the basis of voodoo science.

Until and unless you Republicans understand the real causes of discomfort with your positions, until and unless you get rid of this idiotic culture of victimhood, you will lose ground to sentient political actors – so that the only ones left standing are Appalachians and male southern yokels.

#4 Comment By KateLE On August 24, 2012 @ 9:45 am

This was not a gaffe, it was a peek behind the curtain to the idea that women do not really get raped, and if they get pregnant, they must have been asking for it. They are dumping him for giving the game away, not making a mistake.

#5 Comment By Gerard On August 24, 2012 @ 10:16 am

No, the first part of Akin’s answer, “legitimate rape” was suggesting that there are situations where a woman says she was raped but it was consensual (Koby Bryant) or none at all (Duke lacrosse, Tawana Brawley). The second part of Akin’s answer is harder to explain and might have been an stupid, off-the-cuff remark not backed by any thought out idea.

#6 Comment By John McKeown On August 24, 2012 @ 10:23 am

That’s nonsense.

#7 Comment By John E_o On August 24, 2012 @ 10:53 am

This was the moral position of those extremists John Paul II and Ronald Reagan.

In practice, Ronald Reagan as Governor of California signed into law legislation that legalized abortion in the case of rape and incest.

#8 Comment By Terry On August 24, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

Its the lessons of DEBATE 101. If you cant win the argument then try to deligetimize the phrasology.

Its akin (no pun intended) to refuting the merits of a sentence because the “t” wasnt crossed and looked like an “l”. Everyone knows what was meant but the focus becomes the grammer rather than the message.

In a society that has elevated individualism, free love, hookups, single mother hood and not only options but prefered norms…and put womens rights above societal norms then there can be no refute of the result.

The sad message is the republicans are on the right message just like Ron Paul was and is on the right message (most of the time), then when people reallized the Iraq/Afghanistan War was a lie. Ron Paul was accepted with accolades. The republicans and conservatives are on message…for the most part…but its the bastions of roman decay…who have not lost their legitimacy yet. When they do…people will look back at the republicans as being consistently on message with regard to sovereignty and culture.

When a woman wants the government to pay for day care, abortion and birth control but not let the government have any say in their sex life….thats immoral hypocrisy

When a woman wants equal rights but refuses to grant equal rights to their sexual partner, the husband, the father then thats immoral hypocrisy

When a woman works 8 hours a day and a man works 14 hours a day but she gets promoted for affirmative action, quotas, special privileges, etc…thats immoral hypocrisy

This and immigration (legal and illegal), deregulated banking, taxatopm of multi-national corporations…its the same hypocrisy

Is it any wonder the poor are failing and the moral middle class is dying…while the oligarchical elites are out of touch and oblivious to their unsustainable lifestyle.

#9 Comment By Clint On August 24, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

Romney’s to the left of The Republican Platform on abortion.

Also,then state senator Barack Obama voted against an Illinois state bill that would have extended legal protections to children who survived a botched abortion.

#10 Comment By David Peterson On August 24, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

The biggest loser is the GOP’s new Adonis, Paul Ryan. He has been known as a steadfast Catholic and a man of principle who opposes all killing of the unborn. But Paul is acting like St. Peter on the day he heard the “cock crow thrice.” He is bending under pressure from the radical feminists, the media and the GOP elites. As has happened to Gov. Romney, it’s easy to make a stupid blunder. By trying to force Akin to quit the race, Cong. Ryan now looks like a political hack – someone who is willing to throw his allies under the bus when it suits his ambitions.

#11 Comment By Tom On August 24, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

If he had the courage of his convictions he would have just stated his position and explained why rather than prefacing his remark with some stupid medical theory.

#12 Comment By icarusr On August 24, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

“Everyone knows what was meant but the focus becomes the grammer rather than the message.”

I agree. The oik Akin and his supporters were out to redefine rape by relying on dubious science. They did so because they know that their message is unsellable. So instead of saying, “Rape victims should bear with the consequences, because our morality so dictates,” they trot out “doctors” who tell them that no need to worry about rape and pregnancy because maginal Ether will make sure pregnancy will not result.

This is what was meant, and nothing less.

#13 Comment By icarusr On August 24, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

“He is bending under pressure from the radical feminists, the media and the GOP elites.”

Christianist victimhood rages. Stop blaming radical feminists and the media. If the message were sellable on its own merits, they would be selling it. Instead, as Tom notes, they have to rely on voodoo science. And when someone is honest, or stupid, enough to give the game away, the Republicans panic – first, they pile on, next they blame the media, feminists, Russia, black helicopters and alien abduction. I have every confidence that you would blame supporters of SSM if you could ….

#14 Comment By Bobloblaw On August 24, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

Sorry Pat. Akin is radioactive, will cause the GOP to lose the MO senate seat, cause the GOP to lose the senate, obamacare will be permanent reality, the GOP candidate in 2016 will run on simply tweaking obamcare rather than repealing it and it is possible that moron Akin will cost the GOP 1-2 more senate seats and MO for Romney.

Social conservatives are a disease on the GOP. They have never won a policy debate. Abortion is still legal 40 years on, gay marriage picks up steam, school prayer no where to be seen. Socons lose every issues. Economic cons on the other hand have won numerous times against the left. Economic cons got the top tax rates lowered from 70%, got welfare reform and forced clinton to sign and helped balance the budget in the late 1990s.

Socons have a long list of losers:
Christine ODonnell
Sharon Angle
Ken “gay is a choice” Buck
Dan Maes.

#15 Comment By Dan On August 24, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

I suggest that the GOP should seek to survive and indeed prosper by moving away from its own brand of post-60’s identity politics–being the party of so-called “regular” whites and being terrified of darker skinned Americans. Black, brown and yellow Americans serve in the military (often out of proportion to their percentage of the population) and are perfectly patriotic citizens. Don’t believe the hype from minority leaders and Democrats who have an interest in keeping them alienated and afraid for their own reasons. Conservatives of the future could build a transethnic conservatism that seeks to united so-called diverse peoples under a common Americanism and rejects hyphenated identity politics. All sorts of people want reasonble taxes, safe streets, a non-toxic culture, and strong families. Conservatives of Pat’s persuasion and generation are hurting themselves and the country by clinging to white identity politics and giving the future to Euro-socialist Democrats.

#16 Comment By Clint On August 24, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

Then–State Senator Obama’s opposed, in 2001, 2002, and 2003, successive versions of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, an Illinois bill that was meant to provide protection for babies born alive after attempted abortions.
That bill gave infants protection as legal persons and required physicians to give them care, rather than allowing physicians to deal with them as they would with medical waste.

#17 Comment By Noah172 On August 24, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

This abortion gaffe is just a convenient excuse for the Party of Murdoch to dump someone who is close to an authentic conservative, particularly looking at domestic policy. Akin is one of only a few Republicans who can say the following: voted no on Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and TARP, and has an A from NumbersUSA. In short, he is not really the sort of team player lapdog whom Karl Rove, Eric Cantor, and other party pooh-bahs favor.

#18 Comment By Stormcrow On August 25, 2012 @ 7:42 am

Under Karl Rove, the Republicans decided that various ‘gambits’ (vote suppression, simplistic personal attacks, data manipulation, placing party operatives in election positions) were more important than policy and it has been the very ruin of the GOP. I agree with Mr. Buchanan…the GOP is running on intellectual fumes and may well not see another election. Like some faded star trading on past glories, future performances will be ‘cancelled due to lack of interest’. There are alot of progressives who would be open to voting Republican if it wasn’t for the carnival sideshow of social nutcases who seem hellbent on legislating their version of life on everyone else.

#19 Comment By genetuttle On August 25, 2012 @ 8:22 am

The faux outrage over Akin’s admittedly dumb formulation has left the media’s talking heads talking incessantly about Republicans talking too much about such issues – instead of “substantive” ones.

None of the offended want to distinguish a rapist, violently forcing himself on a woman, from consensual sex between an 18 and 17 year old. The latter involved sex with a minor and was technically classified as “statutory rape” when I was a young New Yorker.

There are other differences too. Ask Julian Assange.

#20 Comment By fnn On August 25, 2012 @ 8:40 am

Reagan was more of a Marxist than BHO is:
On the prosecution of fraud following the Savings and Loan Crisis: Our agency filed over 10,000 criminal referrals that resulted in over 1,000 felony convictions. We worked closely with the FBI and the Justice Department, to prioritize cases—creating the top 100 list of the 100 worst institutions which translated into about 600 or 700 executives. We went after the absolute worst frauds.

On the prosecution of fraud following the current crisis: We now have appointed anti-regulators. The FBI warned in open testimony in the House of Representatives, in September 2004, that there was an epidemic of mortgage fraud, and they predicted that it would cause a financial crisis if it were not contained. It was not contained. Since then we have had zero criminal referrals. They completely shut down making criminal referrals. Both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration have not made it a priority to prosecute these elite criminals who caused this devastating injury.

So the two parties have clearly merged into one. My advice is to use your local “home rule powers” to implement PR (with as low a threshold as possible) as widely as possible to begin the break up the “two-party” system
at the grass roots level.

Or maybe it’s too late to do anything.

#21 Comment By fnn On August 25, 2012 @ 8:53 am

Dan is probably too immersed in his personal family environment to appreciate what’s going on in the wider world.

No matter what kind of fantasy appeal you make to the toiling masses you can’t escape the reality of ruling elites that are post-American in worldview. This is not something that can be changed by an election.

Brief explanation:

#22 Comment By JoeNCA On August 25, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

“Even Paul Ryan, whose position on abortion appears identical to that of Akin, called and urged him to drop out.”

In the “you’re not helping” category, this is exactly the problem. Akin cast a huge spotlight on the fact that his positions on abortion are nearly identical to that of most of the GOP, a position they would have rather discussed in “quiet rooms” rather across every newspaper headline and blog title across the country. You are correct in your assessment. But you have incorrect on the implication of that assessment.

#23 Comment By JoeNCA On August 25, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

“When a woman wants the government to pay for day care, abortion and birth control but not let the government have any say in their sex life….thats immoral hypocrisy.”

And it’s not hypocrisy to say the government should not lift a finger to prevent from needing an abortion, but should stop it if it is needed?

#24 Comment By kim serca On August 26, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

Excuse me, he wasn’t saying that pregnancy from rape was rare, he was saying that the act of rape induces a series of physiological reactions in a woman which minimises the risk of pregnancy.

Not only is there no evidence for this, the rate of pregnancy from rape is higher than from any given act of unprotected consensual sex – 5% for rape, vs 2.5% for consensual sex.

Even when you are trying to sort out which parts of Akin’s politics to defend, you can’t be fully honest, or face his idiocy can you – ignorance, and cowardice, which reaps as it sows.

To say that one in twenty rapes result in a child conceived in violence and terror, to which a mother would have to give unambiguous love, is a ‘rare’ event, is, daresay, something only someone at no risk of it could say.

#25 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 26, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

At the core, neither Democrats nor Republicans really stand for anything other than personal power through fealty to Wall Street. When Wall Street no longer wants the wars it demanded, then the party pols stand down, too. Confusion is understandable on the part of a populace that had its “patriotism” card played to create public support for made-in-Wall-Street foreign policy, but there really isn’t a dime’s worth of difference in the policies on the ground, despite the flourishes of rhetoric disingenuously played to the electorate near ballot time.

Change you can believe in? Not even chump change.

#26 Comment By CarlLaFong On August 26, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

Still waiting for the conservatives to ask, Is Akin’s “science” any dumber or any less fanatical than that of the pro-choicers who will look at an ultrasound and insist they see not “a fetus” but a cyst?”

#27 Comment By JonF On August 26, 2012 @ 11:51 pm


The GOP may not take the Senate this year, but it seems almost certain they will take it in 2014, barring colossal scandal or disaster.

#28 Comment By Andy On August 27, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

Not certain what Aiken meant but it was a very foolish remark. To stand by him would be like standing up for Trent Lott when he let it slip that Strom Thurmand’s pro segregation stance was OK. There is no gain and much to lose among swing voters.Sometime politics forces ones hand.Can’t blame the GOP for this. If Aiken quit and a few years later returned to public life it would likley be no problem all around but as it is he hurts his party by staying in the race