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by Peterr

Todd Akin’s Way With Words Continues

11:28 am in 2012 election by Peterr

Office of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) (per Todd Akin)

Todd Akin sure has a way with words.

Back in August, it was his “legitimate rape” comment that caught everyone’s attention, and now PolitiMo has this report on Akin’s remarks last Saturday evening:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin said Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill has fetched expansive government policies “like a dog” during her tenure in Washington.

Akin made the comparison during a fundraising event in Springfield, where he featured support from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, one of the few national Republicans still backing Akin after much of the party establishment distanced themselves from his candidacy following the controversy earlier in the race surrounding his comments about “legitimate rape.”

“She goes to Washington, D.C., it’s a little bit like one of those dogs, ‘fetch,’” he said. “She goes to Washington, D.C., and get all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri.”

For a guy who was upset that Claire McCaskill was “unladylike” at their first debate, this strikes me as a rather impolite thing to say.

When Akin made his “legitimate rape” comments back in August, he tried to apologize and walk it back as the controversy grew. Will he do the same here, after the audio of his comments gets around?

Well . . . let’s see what Rick Tyler, Akin’s campaign spokesman, had to say this morning:

I’m guessing that’s a “no”.


Before McCaskill and her supporters start rubbing their hands together in glee at this story (“He put his foot in his mouth again!”), let me point out one troubling detail from the audio. As Akin finished laying out his metaphor, and before he could continue with his “that’s one of the reasons why . . .” pitch for their votes and their contributions, the crowd of supporters interrupted him with applause.


That is why Tyler not only didn’t walk back the “dog” metaphor, but cranked it up even higher.  As I wrote back in August, “Akin is not an aberration in the Missouri GOP. This is the state that gave the nation Rush “She’s a slut” Limbaugh, after all, as well as John “cover up the lady parts on that statue in the lobby” Ashcroft.” Comparing McCaskill to a dog is how the GOP in Missouri thinks, and it is how Akin as their standardbearer gets their attention and their support.


Now it’s up to McCaskill to see whether this will motivate her own supporters even harder to convince those in the middle that Akin is bad news for Missouri.


But at least Representative Todd Akin, the son of his mother, father of his daughters, husband of his wife, and pious Christian that he is, didn’t call Senator Claire McCaskill a bitch.


‘Cause that would be downright ungentlemanly.




Photo h/t to Andrew Graham. I do not believe Mr. Graham is connected with the Akin campaign, and my use of his photo here should not be taken to imply his agreement with my comments either. I do believe, however, that Mr. Graham is a nice photographer.

by Peterr

Todd Akin’s Three Nightmares

1:21 pm in 2012 election, Elections by Peterr

Todd Akin’s campaign is under heavy attack from a series of ads from Claire McCaskill featuring women. Specifically, women who have been raped. Diana is probably the hardest hitting, when she says “”I’ve never voted for Claire McCaskill, but because of Todd Akin, I will now.”

That’s Akin’s nightmare: conservative women who are disgusted with his views on women.

But this is only the start of Akin’s problems.

Out in Sikeston, a reliably conservative town in the southeast corner of the state, a longtime local conservative columnist in the Sikeston Standard-Democrat named Michael Jensen shared his thoughts on Akin in yesterday’s paper:

I have tried to warm up to Todd Akin in his bid to unseat incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill.

I have said repeatedly that though I am fond of McCaskill on a personal level, her support for many of the Obama programs rubs me the wrong way.

And given an appropriate opponent, I would bid a fond farewell to Sen. McCaskill.

But Akin is not that candidate.

As a personal protest – with little significance – I have considered not voting for either Akin or McCaskill. I also considered voting for Akin by holding my nose.

But what would that prove?

I think the best option is to accept another term for McCaskill and continue to stress the values of our region that we hold dear.

That’s Akin’s second nightmare: conservative men who are disgusted with his reactionary views.

One of Akin’s strategists came up with a great idea to push back against all this: a four city tour called “Missouri Women Stand With Todd Akin.” They’re in Rolla today, then on to Springfield and Joplin tomorrow, and will wind up on Wednesday in eastern metro Kansas City — not the urban part of the city, mind you, but where the city and the more conservative ‘burbs meet near Arrowhead stadium. They’re hitting three strongly conservative areas, trying to shore up the wavering part of their base, plus hitting a battleground spot in McCaskill’s backyard.

Headlining these “Missouri Women Stand With Todd Akin” rallies will be the former first lady of Arkansas Janet Huckabee, the distinguished Arkansas uber-mom, Michelle “19 Kids and Counting” Duggar, and DC’s own Penny Nance, head of Concerned Women for America.

Wait a minute . . .

*pulls out Missouri State Highway map*

*re-reads press release*

Um, Congressman . . .

I know Missouri Women. Missouri Women are friends of mine. Unless Penny Nance has some Missouri roots that Teh Google isn’t showing anyone, these aren’t Missouri Women.

Now Arkansas is close to Missouri, but the voters of Joplin, Rolla, Springfield, and Kansas City never made Janet Huckabee the first lady, and Michelle Duggar isn’t doing anything to help Missouri get back the congressional district it lost after the 2010 census. If you’re going to announce a series of “Missouri Women Stand With Todd Akin” rallies, you probably ought to mention some, you know, Missouri Women in your press release.

This pushback tour won’t put an end to Akin campaign’s nightmares. As Ebeneezer Scrooge discovered, nightmares come in threes. If conservative women making ads declaring that they are voting for McCaskill is nightmare #1, and conservative men writing newspaper columns saying the same thing is nightmare #2, what could possibly be nightmare #3?

Let’s see . . . maybe another commercial.

Of course, it’s got to have a woman in it.

No, let’s make it 28 women. A campaign commercial with 28 women.

And they should be not angry or upset, but . . . exasperated. 28 exasperated women.

Is Akin sweating? In the immortal words of Ron Popeil, don’t answer yet . . .

And in this nightmare of a commercial that will haunt Todd Akin, these 28 exasperated women should be naked.

28 exasperated naked women.

And they should not be hidden away in a studio or a home, but they should be outside, in public, in a park somewhere, with all kinds of people strolling around and riding their bikes in the background. Put these 28 exasperated naked women out in full view of anyone who wanders by.

And they should be regular-looking women, not ready-for-supermodeldom-looking women. Tall women. Short women. Women with straight hair and women with kinky hair. Women with light skin and women with dark skin. Women with freckles and women with wrinkles. Women with slim bodies and women with rounded bodies.

28 regular-looking exasperated naked women, out in public.

Is Akin nervous? Don’t answer yet . . .

And they should speak. High voices. Low voices. Young voices. Old voices. Quiet voices. Loud voices.

And every single exasperated voice coming from every single one of those 28 naked womanly bodies is strong and powerful.

They are persistent voices, and these 28 ordinary-looking exasperated naked women standing out in public have one question — just one question — to ask Todd Akin and any other politicians who share his 18th century views.

And they ask it over and over and over again . . .

If you don’t trust me with my body, why should I trust you with my country?

If you don’t trust me with my body, why should I trust you with my country?

If you don’t trust me with my body, why should I trust you with my country?

If you don’t trust me with my body, why should I trust you with my country?

If you don’t trust me with my body, why should I trust you with my country?

If you don’t trust me with my body, why should I trust you with my country? . . .

As the makers of the video point out at their website, “In every presidential election since 1964, the number of female voters has exceeded the number of male voters.”

Sleep well, Congressman. If you can . . .


image h/t to DonkeyHotey

by Peterr

Why Todd Akin Stayed, and Why it Troubles Paul Ryan

4:14 am in Conservatism, Elections, Religion by Peterr

Mitt Romney doesn’t get Todd Akin. “Don’t you see what you’re doing to the Party? Don’t you see what you’re doing to The Cause? Get out of the race, so we can get a winning candidate in place!”

And Akin said, “No.”

Roy Blunt, Missouri’s junior senator, doesn’t get Todd Akin, and neither do Kit Bond, Jim Talent, Jack Danforth, or even John Ashcroft, former GOP senators from Missouri all. “Please, Todd, for the sake of our state and our party, get out of the race.”

And Akin said, “No.”

Karl Rove and the others behind the SuperPACS that have been pouring money into Missouri don’t get it, and neither does John Cornyn or the people at the NRC. “We’ll pull our funding and tell your donors not to give to your campaign. We’ll univite you to the Republican National Convention. Get. Out. Of. The. Race. NOW.”

And Akin said “No.”

Maybe Iowa’s favorite son, Rep. Steve King, can explain it to them. He gets Akin, as his (pre-rape comments) endorsement of Akin makes clear:

Congressman Todd Akin is my friend, he is running for the United States Senate and he is the man that will always stand on the principles that we believe in.  Too many people bend or sway in the wind or they get drawn into the mesmerizing idea that somehow someone can guide you up through a leadership channel if you just go along to get along.  He is not going to put up a vote for the sake of going along to get along and neither will I.  We have a sacred obligation to all of you, that’s to keep our oath of office.  That’s to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

That’s Todd Akin, as local politician and reporters from around St. Louis know all too well, like Kevin Horrigan:

For nearly a quarter of a century, we had him mostly to ourselves. He was that little barbecue joint that nobody else had discovered. He was a secret fishing hole we didn’t have to share. We never knew what he would say next, but whatever it was, we knew that there was a good chance it would be ridiculous.

There was never anything as outrageous as the magical women-don’t-often-get pregnant during “legitimate rape” claim that now has him in hot water. But if he started talking about Sunday blue laws or the evils of sex education or the dangers of the state licenses for day-care centers or any of the other social issues that came before the Missouri Legislature in the 1990s, Todd would safely go off the deep end and only the Akinmaniacs would notice.

He was kept pretty well bottled-up during his 12 years in the Missouri House. In those days, Democrats still controlled the House and moderation wasn’t yet a sin within the GOP. Todd’s views were so extreme that most mainstream Republicans rolled their eyes when he got up to talk.

He didn’t care. He was a man on a mission.

A man that will always stand on principle. A man on a mission. That’s what Romney and the GOP senators from Missouri and the PTB in the RNC and the political operatives in the GOP don’t get. Or perhaps they get it, but were hoping they could get him, just once, to back off and tone it down.

Good luck with that.

From Akin’s perspective, he can end up in one of three ways. First, he could become a hypocrite. He could give up his principles, give up his mission, and give up his candidacy, which to him would be tantamount to giving up his faith. “When things got tough for God’s prophets in the Old Testament, or the early Christians under Roman persecution, some of them bailed on God. I’m not going to do that.” To leave the race like this would set the stage (in Akin’s mind) for years of nightmares: “how many abortions could I have prevented, if I had just remained firm, remained faithful, and remained strong?”

His second possible outcome is to become a martyr. “I held firm to my convictions, I remained faithful, and whatever happens in the election happens. If I lose, I lose — but I didn’t lose my faith.” In becoming a martyr, he will be a hero to the Fundy Faithful, and they will tell stories about him for generations to come. “When faced with choosing between his faith and what is ‘prudent’ and politically popular, Akin didn’t flinch. Sure, he went down in flames at the polls, but that didn’t matter to him. What mattered to him most was keeping the faith. And he kept it.”

His third possible outcome is to become a senator. By remaining faithful, Akin will proclaim to the Fundy Faithful in Missouri that he is putting this race in God’s hands. His prayer is that they will rally around him in numbers that will amaze the pundits, astound the GOP establishment, and send God-fearing people across the country into a religious frenzy of delight.

A hypocrite, a martyr, or a senator. Akin refuses to accept the first mantle, and will be perfectly happy with either of the other two.

And that probably makes Paul Ryan very sad.

It’s not because Akin might lose to McCaskill, costing the GOP control of the Senate. It’s not because the focus on Akin might derail the careful planning for next week’s Republican National Convention. It’s not because the focus on Akin might spill over into the presidential race, forcing Romney and Ryan to talk more about social issues than the deficit, the budget, and the economy, and perhaps costing them the White House.

It’s because Akin chose what Ryan did not.

Robin Marty of RH Reality Check lays out quite clearly who Ryan is, as she wades through years of his statements and votes:

Rep. Paul Ryan is against abortion, no exceptions. Paul Ryan would allow an exception for rape. Ryan doesn’t believe in birth control. Ryan only has three children, he must believe in birth control. Ryan is pro-life “from conception to natural death.” . . .


We may not be entirely sure where Ryan stands at this moment, but anti-choice activists have absolutely no doubt that Ryan is in fact their “pro-life” hero. CatholicVotes announced their endorsement of the Romney/Ryan ticket, saying, “Paul Ryan will be the first pro-life Catholic to appear on a Republican presidential ticket since Roe v. Wade. Paul Ryan understands his faith. He understands Catholic social teaching, and prays and works to apply his faith to the practice of politics, including his economic and budget proposals.”

Exactly what are those social teachings?  Well, it comes as no surprise that CatholicVote does not believe in abortion in any instance, including for victims of rape.  “The rapist… is forever guilty of rape. The child conceived as a result of the rape was not guilty of the crime. The child did no wrong. The child ought not get the death penalty for his father’s rape.” but once again, Ryan is endorsed by supporters who claim he feels the same way, but avoids saying as much himself.

Winks. Dog whistles. Carefully nuanced statements to preserve an image. Playing coy with the press to present two faces to the world. In that respect, Ryan is the anti-Akin.

Which makes this information from Politico about Ryan’s phone call yesterday to Akin very, very interesting:

The call, first reported by NBC, did not entail Ryan asking Akin to drop out, the source said.

But he echoed the comments Mitt Romney made condemning the comments, as well as those from Senate officials who have said Akin needs to think about the impact of his remarks on the party and other candidates, the source said.

It was “not a brief call,” the source said.

Something tells me Ryan didn’t ask Akin to drop out because he knew it would never happen. Given a choice between being a hypocrite on the one hand or a martyr or senator on the other, he knew that there was no way that Akin would choose to be a hypocrite.

But for Ryan, it likely got worse. The more Akin talked, the more it probably bothered Paul Ryan, because while Akin was remaining firm and sticking to his principles, the more Akin talked about publicly witnessing to his faith, the more it hit home with Paul Ryan that he was hiding his own principles and downplaying his faith.

That had to hurt. And it will hurt all the way to November.

by Peterr

Todd Akin, Rush Limbaugh, John Ashcroft, and Mark Twain

5:55 am in Conservatism, Elections by Peterr

Attaturk, that Iowan to the north, had much fun mocking Missouri’s GOP senate nominee, Representative Todd Akin for his comments on “legitimate rape.” And those comments were truly worthy of mockery.

To people here in Missouri, Akin’s comments were not terribly surprising. Akin is a known commodity — known to be highly conservative and well in keeping with a non-trivial slice of the Missouri electorate.

Like Br’er Rabbit telling Br’er Fox not to throw him in the briar patch, Claire McCaskill ran ads on Fox News during the GOP primary fight, calling Akin “too conservative for Missouri”. With an endorsement like that, conservatives in the GOP primary race were happy to hand Akin a victory with 36% of the vote. His two challengers were John Brunner (a conservative businessman trying to run a Romney-style “I know how to run things” campaign) who got 30%, and Sarah “I Want to be a Palin” Steelman who got 29%. The GOP primary was always going to go to the candidate who could best appeal to the most conservative elements of the Missouri GOP, and that was Akin.

And it wasn’t even close.

News flash to the rest of the nation: the 36% who supported Akin are neither surprised nor bothered by Akin’s comments. He may have said publicly what perhaps (for political reasons) ought to have been kept private, but make no mistake. The far right wing of Missouri’s republican party likes this guy and likes what he said. Period. If Akin were to quit the race because of pressure from Romney or Mitch McConnell, they’d be beyond angry. Akin is their guy, and they would not take kindly to outside agitators forcing him to quit.

Akin is not an aberration in the Missouri GOP. This is the state that gave the nation Rush “She’s a slut” Limbaugh, after all, as well as John “cover up the lady parts on that statue in the lobby” Ashcroft.

But this is also the state whose internal political debates over slavery — conducted with the same sense of nuance and humility as Limbaugh, Ashcroft, and Akin discuss sex — shaped the pen and wit of young Samuel Clemens. If Missouri’s politicians were reasonable folks, Clemens might never have taken up political commentary and satire as Mark Twain.

I look at my kid and his classmates and wonder which of them will grow up to be the next great political satirist. God knows that with folks like Akin around, there’s plenty for them to work with as they learn the fine art of political snark.

UPDATE: County by county primary results are here. Looking at the map, you can see a couple of things. (1) The big dark blue patch just west and north of St. Louis is Akin’s conservative home district. (2) The blue patch in the southwestern corner of the state is John Ashcroft country. (3) The blue patch in the southeastern corner of the state is where Rush has his roots.

by Peterr

I Get Phone Calls

10:14 am in Elections by Peterr

<ring ring>

Me: “Hello?”

<pause for computer to realize a real person answered and start the recorded message>

Perky female voice: “Hello, Illinois!”

Me, thinking: “Illinois? Who the hell is this?”

PFV: “This is Sarah Palin.”

Me, thinking: “OMG. This should be fun.”

PFV: “We need conservatives who (insert list of stump speech red meat) . . .  Every vote is important, so vote for people who share our values and get your friends and family members to do the same.”

Fast male announcer voice: “Paid for by Faith and Freedom coalition”


First, I’m still laughing at whoever thinks I still live in IL. I visit a lot, but haven’t officially lived there for over twenty years. Can’t their robocall programmers figure out that my area code is in greater Kansas City MO, not east of the Mississippi River?

Second, I was struck by what wasn’t there: specifics. No names of candidates to back/fight, no ballot initiatives to support/oppose, just “vote our values.” I don’t think there was any mention of God or religion, nor any kind of local issue or candidate (either in IL or MO) on that list of red-meat stuff — it was mostly generic limited government kinds of things.

Sarah rattled off her list pretty fast with her perky female voice, and it was designed not to elict thought and contemplation but rather to get the hearer’s head nodding. “Yep, yep, yep, yep . . . ” After getting the recipient of the call nodding along, she moves to the ask: GOTV. This call is targeted at getting out votes for the right — but in a fairly undifferentiated scattershot way. (If they were calling me, “fairly undifferentiated” is a major understatement. Sure robo-calls might be cheap, but this is campaign FAIL stuff.)

Third, the funders — an organization that tries to melt Christian conservatives with limited government types. They’re a 501(c)4 group, so they can do issue advertising, but given the way in which Citizens United has changed the landscape, I’d at least have expected some kind of “let Dick Durbin and Governor Quinn know that big government is not what we need” message.

I started to poke around their website, but before I could dig in . . .

<ring ring>

Me: “Hello?” Read the rest of this entry →

by Peterr

Missouri Must Have Money to Burn

1:01 pm in Uncategorized by Peterr

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says she "received the message" from the voters back in Missouri, who passed a measure trying to exempt Missouri residents from the individual mandate on health insurance and the employer mandate to provide it:

I know that there’s a lot of work we need to do on not just the provisions of the law, but most importantly making sure everyone knows what’s in the law. And I can only be hopeful that as time goes on, more and more people realize the positive things that are in the bill. I do know that this vote very closely reflected the number of people who voted in the Republican primary versus the Democratic primary. But nonetheless, message received. I appreciate the fact that voters are sending a message. I don’t think it has any impact on the law itself, but it is a message.

Oh, good. For a minute there, I thought she was giving credence to a vote to bring back that old stand-by from the pre-civil war days, nullification.

In the meantime, though, I’ve got a question for my fellow voters in Missouri, for my state legislators, for my governor, for my senator, and for my would-be senator, Rep Roy Blunt: how much will it cost the State of Missouri to defend this nonsense in court?

If Missouri wants to defend the idea of nullification — an idea I thought was put to rest in 1865 — maybe they should hold the hearing in the Old Federal Courthouse in St. Louis, where the Dred Scott case was argued. As long as we’re going back to the arguments of the pre-civil war era, why not go all the way?

Fortunately, Missouri is awash in state revenues, so paying to defend a patently unconstitutional ballot measure is not going to keep state roads from being fixed, state police on the roads, state parks from being cleaned up, nursing homes from being inspected, or affect any of a thousand other important state programs.

Oh, wait . . . Missouri is in the midst of a budget crisis.

Never mind.