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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

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.