Todd Akin just may be the most interesting man in the world -- but in a Forrest Gump sort of way. Much like the scenes in the movie showing Forrest Gump at the Black Panther meeting or the White House, it's not so much what Akin thinks, says or does that is all that interesting; but rather it's the events that unfold around him as a result that are nothing short of riveting.
Thanks to Akin, it's been a fascinating couple of days in politics. It's about time.
The intrigue started when Akin said in an interview last weekend that it is rare for women to get pregnant as a result of rape. "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 of the rapist, and not attacking the child."
Statements like this are crazy to the point that neither the statement nor the person making it deserves a second thought. It's like when you see an unhinged person on a downtown street corner railing on about how the four horsemen of the apocalypse have been spotted galloping their way across the Arizona desert. Generally, you just keep on walking.
But in this case, Akin isn't just your garden variety street corner preacher. He's a Missouri congressman and the Republican nominee currently running for Claire McCaskill's seat in the U.S. Senate.
Most everyone agrees that what Akin said was baffling. Not only does it reveal a lack of understanding of what rape actually is and an absence of empathy for anyone who has been a victim of it; it also shows a failure to grasp the basics of biology. Way to triple score on all the wrong points.
Not surprisingly, outcry against Akin's views was immediate. But when the Democrat and Republican establishments scrambled to weigh in? Well, that's when shit finally got real.
Many Republicans demanded that Akin withdraw from the race; but he declined and the deadline for him to do so without court approval has now passed.
In keeping with his strategy of only telling us where he doesn't stand, Mitt Romney weighed in with this, "I can't defend what he said, I can't defend him."
But Romney's comments do shed light on exactly why Akin is in such hot water with Republicans. Akin violated Republican Rule #1 when it comes to campaigning these days. Don't tell anybody what you really think on substantive issues.
So, when Akin was honest about his views on women, rape and biology, to bastardize a line from Cool Hand Luke, what the GOP had there was a failure to fail to communicate.
Akin might not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but even he now understands where he went wrong. "I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize," he stated in a thirty-second made-for-TV apology. "The mistake I made is in the words I said, not in the heart that I hold."
In other words, Akin isn't sorry for his views, he's sorry for expressing them. And the beat goes on.
Meanwhile, Democratic reaction couldn't have been more opposite. President Obama weighed in with his take on Akin's comments: "Rape is rape, and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me."
Then President Obama moved beyond his take on Akin's remarks to what they mean from a policy perspective:
"So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women."
Preach, preacher! Finally, some substance -- expressed in longish, complete sentences, no less.
Akin may wish he could take back his words, but I'm glad he can't. To bastardize a line from Forrest Gump, elections shouldn't be like a box of chocolates. Voters should always know what they're going to get.