08/23/2012 06:05 pm ET Updated Oct 23, 2012

The Two Questions the Media Should Be Asking About Todd Akin

Representative Todd Akin (R-Missouri) has been asked by numerous Republicans currently in office to step down from his Senate race because of his now infamous and incendiary remarks regarding "legitimate rape." The motives for asking Akin to step aside are easily split: either a pure "We want team R to win, and you are lessening our chances" best expressed by Sean Hannity in very forthright fashion on his show on Tuesday, or a seemingly genuine "what you had to say was loathsome and unacceptable" best exemplified by Scott Brown's statement on Tuesday.

However, two questions are raised in all of these responses by those on the Republican side of the aisle, and it is a failing of the media that we haven't heard more about two aspects of this tempest. One: what does Akin currently do for a living? And Two: what EXACTLY was the document he was referencing in his statement?

For the former, I have done the research and can announce that Akin is in fact a Representative in the House on the Republican side of the aisle. Given this, it seems strange that redefining both rape and science in a way that has almost universally been declared somewhere between stupid and not-actually-sentient is grounds to be kicked out of... a potential future job, but not the current job. That strikes me as not much of a condemnation at all. To say to your co-worker after you discover that they regularly stealing other people's lunches, "sorry, no promotion for you" but to then keep them sitting next to you in the cubicle, talking about what's going on this weekend and how are the kids... that doesn't rise to the level of punishment at all. It seems like a kind of tacit agreement or capitulation with the person's values and actions.

As for the second point: Akin said that he had seen a "medical report" that suggested to him that women don't get pregnant when they are raped. His apology is predicated in part on that fact, that he saw this report but now he realizes it was wrong. So, to my intrepid reporter friends, I'd like them to ask this question of Akin or his staff: what medical report? Where is it? Who wrote it? Was it peer-reviewed? Double-blind study? Is there anything "medical" about it? Who is the M.D. who put pen to paper on it? One might suspect, and there is reason to do so, that this issue is discussed in certain far-right precincts in this country, and that like Article 21, Obama is COMING TO TAKE AWAY YOUR GUNS, or THEY ARE BUILDING A HIGHWAY FROM MEXICO TO CANADA, there are politicians who spend their time reading far-right blogs, watching far right TV, talking to far right preachers, and generally living an intellectual life of total epistemic closure. And every so often, they forget that they aren't talking to a fellow traveler on their path, but are rather talking to the rest of the world, a world which doesn't think the UN is coming for them, doesn't know about a secret highway of doom, and doesn't understand just how many of their fellow Americans are... not attached to the same reality as the rest of us.

This story has been beaten to death, and I already feel the fatigue of having to think about it. I apologize to one and all for adding to the morass of Akinanity, but there are actual important questions embedded within this story that are worth continuing to ponder.