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Robert J. Elisberg

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GOP Actions Speak Louder Than Todd Akin's Words

Posted: 08/22/2012 12:40 pm

Republican Party leaders are shocked -- shocked, I say! -- that Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) said something reprehensible about women and rape. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is shocked. Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is shocked. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the GOP's own vice-presidential nominee, is shocked. Shocked! So shocked, in fact, that they've all asked Mr. Akin to drop out of his race, because he said something so shocking about women.

I've felt like I was watching the movie, Casablanca. I keep hearing the corrupt police chief Captain Renault tell Humphrey Bogart, "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here." Upon which the maître d' hands him his winnings.


Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, is shocked, too. True, it took him a full day and two attempts to express that he was shocked. And true, it took him two days to call for Rep. Akin to quit the race. But we know how shocked Mr. Romney is because this time he didn't simply say, "Those aren't the words I would have used," like he did when Rush Limbaugh called a grad student a "slut" and "prostitute."

Boy, howdy, are Republicans shocked. Shocked and outraged.

OK, not all Republicans. It took Sarah Palin two days to note merely that Mr. Akin should "take one for the team" because "This is not going in his favor." She certainly got outraged when David Letterman made a joke she felt inappropriate, but then Mr. Letterman is a TV Host -- Todd Akin is only a six-term congressman running for the U.S. Senate. Who knows? Maybe she just wasn't offended at what Rep. Akin said about women and rape.

Then again, we don't know how many in the Republican Party were offended by what Todd Akin said.

What we do know, however, is this: as reprehensible as Rep. Akin's assertions were at face value -- the underlying attitude he was addressing is not shocking in today's Republican Party.

It's business as usual. Standard operating procedure. Policy.

Underneath Todd Akin's offensive words is the core belief that all abortion should be illegal, even in the case of rape. That's the point he was trying to make. He just phrased it "poorly" by saying precisely what he believed: even if a woman was raped, she should not be allowed to have an abortion. That was his point.

Yet his point is the exact same as the GOP nominee for vice president, Paul Ryan. Indeed, the two men have co-sponsored several abortion-related bills, notably the Sanctity of Life Act, which would give human "personhood" rights to a zygote, outlaw abortion and make many forms of contraception illegal. (When Mr. Romney himself was asked by Mike Huckabee if he would support a state "personhood" bill, he answered, "Absolutely.")

In fact, while Todd Akin is being slammed by shocked Republicans over his words about "legitimate rape," Paul Ryan himself has co-sponsored actual legislation on "forcible rape," trying to set up a difference between real rape and... well, some other kind. Indeed, a Romney campaign official (who asked not to be quoted) acknowledged to CNN that Mr. Ryan also opposes abortion even in cases of rape. The official did add that this differed with Mitt Romney's view, which is "the formal position of the GOP presidential ticket."

Note: The term, "The formal position of the GOP presidential ticket," is subject to change. Mr. Romney has come out strongly for abortion -- and strongly against. And he's on record supporting "personhood."

To be clear, none of this is to suggest that the Romney-Ryan ticket is hypocritical when saying they're outraged and shocked by Rep. Todd Akin's ghastly words about women and rape. Not at all. It's to say that the entire Republican Party leadership is hypocritical by this fake shock. The underlying principle of what Todd Akin said toward women is the principle of today's Republican Party.

This is not hyperbole. The current platform of the Republican Party, passed yesterday, calls for a ban on abortion with no exception for rape or incest.

Consider, too, the GOP-proposed personhood bill in Congress. Consider the GOP personhood bills in Mississippi, Virginia and Oklahoma, as well as efforts in Nevada, Florida and Ohio. Consider the GOP's forced transvaginal ultrasound probe bills against women in Virginia, Alabama, Texas and Pennsylvania. ("You just have to close your eyes," said Pennsylvania's Republican governor Tom Corbett.) Consider an abortion bill in Wyoming that was pushed through the Agriculture Committee! (Which shows what they think there of women, abortion and vegetables.) Consider Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, which is often the only medical resource many women have.

It all makes Republican commentators Mike Huckabee and Michael Medved slamming actress Natalie Portman for having a child out of wedlock seem so quaint and adorable at this point.

Agree or disagree with these proposals. Just don't say you're shocked when they're spoken out loud.

Several months back, Republicans tried to push back against the charge that their party had a War on Women. Todd Akin just showed that a better word might have been crusade.

And so we see all of these Republican leaders shocked and outraged at Rep. Akin's reprehensible comments about women. Well, y'know... what Todd Akin's said, at heart, is today's Republican Party. This is what you get when you court the radical Far Religious Right as your base. This is what you get when you push out even moderates. This is what you get when you welcome the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess, and Harold Simmonses of the world to buy up the Tea Party corporations and fund the core of your party.

You gets what you pay for. You sleep in the bed you made. You go home with who you brought to the dance.

And Republican leaders say they are shocked at what Todd Akin said about women. Shocked, I say!

They couldn't be.

The only thing that could have shocked Republican leaders is that they didn't say it first.

 
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