National Commentary

Why Must Akin Be Forced to Lie?

It’s just not fair, darn it! Why is it that right-wing Republicans (which is almost all Republicans by now) can’t just come out, be honest and say what they really think?

Isn’t it downright discriminatory that they can’t do that? Rep. Todd Akin’s only transgression when he spoke about “legitimate [as opposed to other kinds of] rape” this week was that he spoke his mind with candor.

For this, his own party leadership, which by and large shares his views but knows you can’t say so “in so many words,” has thrown him under the proverbial bus.

Why is it that these Republicans are forced to resort to hardly anything but lies and distortion in their public discourse, generally? It is so unfair!

They shouldn’t have to resort to such things, one would think. They shouldn’t have to spread lies like saying President Obama was born in Kenya and is a Muslim. They shouldn’t have to hide their presidential candidates’ tax returns from people they expect to vote for him.

They shouldn’t have to lie about Obama’s policies on Medicare and welfare reform. They shouldn’t have to lie about how offensive they find Rep. Akin’s remarks to have been. They shouldn’t have to, but they feel they must.

Their felt need to duck, weave and hide is rooted in the same prejudice against, say, someone who has three wives. One would think that in our free society today such a person would just come out and say so without concern for those pesky laws against it, or the sensibilities of the women to whom they’d pledged fealty.

If course, the poor dears are operating at a distinct disadvantage to begin with. When it comes to actual policy, theirs represent the interests of only one percent or so, the super rich, of the population. So, they’re outnumbered. Aren’t they entitled to make up for that in “unconventional” ways?

The Akin case helps illustrate what really motivates them. On the one hand, it is callous political expediency, and no genuine concern for the affront Akin’s comments, and the policies that lay behind them, represent to women.

If GOP leaders felt that Akin’s remarks would help them in the polls, you better believe they would have embraced them and kissed Akin on the forehead, because most of them have shared his views for decades.

Akin didn’t misspeak, or make a verbal gaffe. He was speaking true to the party line, which is why he was so shocked to find his historic allies bailing on him with such zeal. He just didn’t get the latest memo about the latest deception that the party ordered in hopes of winning a few votes from women.

In sum, there is a transparent lying cynicism in how the GOP responded to Akin’s comments that is every bit as offensive as the comments themselves.

There is a deeper, authentic prejudice at work in this case, as well. It is the fact that stupid white male chauvinism is alive and well in America’s right wing.

Right wing efforts to define rape by degree – to differentiate “legitimate” or “forcible” rape from other kinds, for example – suggests, as rape victim and attorney Shauna Prewitt said on national TV yesterday, that the “burden of proof” remains with the victims of rape, with women. It is women who are on trial in cases of rape from this view.

For those like Akin and his GOP allies who’ve held to the fraudulent claim first advanced in 1970 by the head of a pro-life organization that women excrete some kind of protective juice to prevent a rape from resulting in pregnancy, any woman who gets pregnant from a rape is automatically suspect.

Prewitt noted that in 31 states, if a woman decides to bear a child conceived through a rape, she remains tethered to her rapist, who retains visitation and other rights with respect to the child until it is 18 years old.

Those arguing to keep it that way, she said, said they’re mindful of “good, honorable men” who might be denied their rights if such laws were changed, with no consideration for the woman or child.