The Akin ‘apology’

Watch Todd Akin ask for forgiveness for his comments about rape. Most of it was based on the premise of a poor choice of words rather than a fundamentally erroneous idea, because he says “I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize…. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold.”

While he did say “Fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy”, Jandorian rightly points out in a comment to my previous post on this topic that he is merely admitting that there is a non-zero possibility of this, which is not by any means a repudiation of the absurd ‘theory’ that he expounded in his original comments that it rarely happens. Later, he backtracked on even that measly non-apology, telling Mike Huckabee today that he will not bow out of the race and that “I just misspoke one word in one sentence on one day.”

I think that he is trying to retain the support of people who really think rape does not lead to pregnancy (he did not disavow the strange concept of ‘legitimate rape’ either) while gambling that the media will not pin him down on whether he still believes in his theory. I think his gamble will pay off, unfortunately.

He is not the only one trying to have it both ways. The Republican party establishment has expressed outrage over his comments and is trying to use this issue to pressure Akin to withdraw from the US senate race. It would be mistake to think they are disavowing his views since the party platform to be adopted at next week’s convention opposes abortion and does not provide for a rape exemption, making it compatible with his views. Significantly, the party bigwigs are also not asking him to resign his seat in the House of Representatives nor his seat on (if you can believe it) the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

It seems clear that all they really they care about is that he is hurting the party’s image nationally and that they have a better shot of winning the Missouri senate seat with one of the candidates who lost to him in the primary.

One of the stunning facts that I learned as a result of this controversy is that 32,000 women get pregnant each year in the US as a result of being raped. I had no idea that the number was this large. And who knows how many more women do not even report rapes out of fear or shame.


  1. says

    Following is a re-paste of a comment I left on Ed’s blog:

    Notice how the public debate is being carefully redirected away from Akin’s worst offense: the biggest problem here is not that he used the phrase “legitimate rape;” the biggest problem by far is that he harbors (or at least claims to harbor) an insane and totally unfounded belief that rape victims don’t get pregnant because their bodies can “shut down” unwanted pregnancies. That’s the real reason he’s totally unfit for any job outside of the Taliban — but that’s not why the Republicans are calling on him to drop out.

    Even as they clamor for Akin to drop out, the Republicans are still covering for him, and still methodically redirecting public attention away from the most horrific of his faults. The next step — after the shouting is done — will be to explain that he misspoke with that one word “legitimate,” and then to show that he actually meant something that wasn’t that far from the truth; then they’ll start claiming that Akin was just another victim of hysterical feminazi political correctness, and got totally screwed by that one word. Meanwhile the substance of what he actually said will be forgotten in a haze of obfuscation, distraction, and misogyny.

    We need to keep our eyes on the ball and be aware of what’s going on, and how the media are lying to us.

  2. tom says

    Sadly, after his statements, Akin is still in a statistical tie with McCaskill. That so few would repudiate Akin on the basis of his ignorance is a sad testament to the Missouri electorate (and let’s not pretend such wingnuttery is restricted to Missouri).

  3. Jared A says

    I think that all this discussion about Akin and gaffes and so forth makes the real state of contemporary politics pretty clear. The prevailing party is the one that wins the marketing campaign, and thus all the successful political campaigns are focused majorly if not solely on marketing (or ‘branding’, but I too hate that word).

    The media call Akin’s statement a gaffe because even though it isn’t a gaffe from a policy standpoint, it is one from a marketing standpoint. Akin retracts his remark the way he does because it is the most marketable way to do it. Other republicans repudiate him because it is the best way for them to market themselves. Considerations of policy, morals, and facts are only important insomuch as how they consider to a candidate’s personal marketing campaign.

    I know I’m only saying very obvious things here. That’s really the point I want to make. This mode of operation is such a foregone conclusion by this point that it is hardly worth talking about, but really none of this is at all surprising in context of that model. The news media knows this is the way it is, and they operate on the assumption that this is how it should operate.

    Putting it in amateurish game-theory speak: everyone is playing independently to win; and there is no card you can play that beats the ‘successful marketer’ card.

  4. Samantha M says

    I have read in a few places that from his standpoint, all he did was accidentally say “legitimate rape” when he meant “forcible rape.” How does that make his statement any less reprehensible? It really seems to me that he thinks had he said “forcible” rather than “legitimate”, his comments would have been appropriate.

  5. Mano Singham says

    The man is an idiot and trying to make sense of how his weird brain works is a hopeless task.

  6. Chiroptera says

    There is another misdirection going on here.

    Akins did misspeak when he used the word “legitimate”; I think he meant to use a word like “actual,” as in “actual rape” as opposed to all the fake rapes that the anti-feminists claim are just made up by women to “get back” at men they are angry at.

    By pretending that Akins is a lone nut who thinks that there are cases of “legitimate rape,” they are trying to divert our attention from the fact that so many of their supporters are misogynists who want to just dismiss most women’s allegations of rape.

  7. Makoto says

    That was the impression I got as well – it wasn’t supposed to be “legitimate”, it was supposed to be “forcible”, like the attempted redefinition of rape per HR3

  8. left0ver1under says

    One of the stunning facts that I learned as a result of this controversy is that 32,000 women get pregnant each year in the US as a result of being raped. I had no idea that the number was this large.

    I have to wonder if that number includes or excludes pregnancy due to rape by boyfriends and husbands. If it doesn’t, then the figure could be far worse.

    There are stupid people who believe “a man can’t rape his wife”, as if she has no say in the matter. I would bet that some of them believe giving consent once equates consent at any time thereafter.

  9. bad Jim says

    Here are a couple of things that don’t get as much emphasis as they should:

    Conception is a magical event that occurs during coitus, therefore emergency contraception must be abortion, because otherwise it couldn’t work after the fact.

    God has to intervene during conception to provide the soul, so pregnancy is a sign of His approval.

    The whole business about “legitimate rape” has other contexts, if I recall aright, as in minimizing date rape or scandals involving college athletes. It’s only rape if it’s a stranger from a different race or social class, in effect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *