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I will add little to the discussion of Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" remark except to say that this is the inevitable result of the anti-abortion movement's chronic failure to resolve its ongoing quandary on pregnancies that result from rape. Usually politicians and candidates who subscribe to it have either recognized the political palatability of allowing a rape-and-incest exception, or in some cases espousing (as most famously the late Henry Hyde, father of the Hyde Amendment, did) the Catholic Church's position that it is unacceptable since the unborn child is technically paying for the sins of its father with its life (which is, I suppose, defensible as morally consistent, at the price of making the person espousing it look heartless unless they simultaneously advocate for automatically denying paternity to any man convicted of a rape in such a situation, which I do not recall ever hearing any do). But instead, Akin chose the weaselly middle position of trying to pretend that there's science out there suggesting that pregnancies rarely result from rape. And paid the price he deserved to pay.

I have to admit I'm familiar enough with this kind of logic from anti-abortion politicians that I found his way of putting it to be so mild compared to what he could have said and what others did as to be almost forgivable.

But I have been surprised at the vehemence of the Republican establishment's effort to get him to quit. They didn't even bother to wait for his effort at damage control to start piling on. Mitch McConnell's "I believe he should take time with his family to consider whether this statement will prevent him from effectively representing our party in this critical election" came off as rather civil compared to his colleague John Cornyn's "over the next twenty-four hours, Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service." (He should have just said what he was clearly thinking "The question you've got to be asking yourself right now is ... do I feel lucky?  Well, do ya, punk?") Reince Preibus publicly disinvited him to the convention. And so forth.

It's not hard to see that Republicans want him out not so much because they're revulsed at his remarks (some undoubtedly are, but under different circumstances they'd let it pass) but because, as noted here on Kos, he's not only dropped his chances of winning to less than zero, but quite probably tanked any chance Republicans have of taking the Senate.

However, this alone cannot explain why McConnell, Cornyn and Priebus engaged in this vulgar display of power (and it's looking more like a vulgar display of impotence, as Akin has stayed in and indicated further that he will continue to do so, exposing McConnell and Cornyn's as toothless in the process). If that were their only goal, they would have handled this discreetly and offstage with minimal and vague public remarks until Akin called his press conference to announce he was backing out (and in any event that soft-power route would have been the more effective way to handle this).

No. This public shaming of Todd Akin is being done to show the Tea Party who was boss, is boss and will be boss no matter what.

As much as Republicans love the Tea Party and publicly embrace and heed it, we have to remember, as Cornyn, McConnell and Priebus certainly do, all the crappy candidates the teabaggers saddled them with last cycle. Some of them won on the strength of the wave, like Annemarie Buerkle, David Rivera and Allen West, but are expected to be swept out this year, to what will be the secret relief of the House GOP leadership, I'm sure.

However, we (and they) remember the losers the Tea Party championed in '10 far better. Names like Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell and Dan Maes (the latter being, IMO, the absolute worst candidate the Tea Party inflicted on the GOP that year ... yes, even worse than O'Donnell, who at least didn't pose any risk of costing the Republican Party its automatic ballot line).

After those debacles, I'm sure Republicans found them easy to explain away. Angle? Reid manipulated us into picking her, sure, but he's got a great turnout operation and the state is getting more Latino and bluer in the process, so he might have been able to beat another candidate. O'Donnell? Well, she upset one of the most moderate Republicans we had out there, so maybe it wasn't a surprise. Maes? He wouldn't have been there if Scott McInnis hadn't been caught plagiarizing Tough break.

But while Akin had the same "opponent manipulated our primary" going for him, he was far more credible as a candidate. He was not a total outsider to elective office, like O'Donnell or a not-ready-for-prime-timer like Angle or Maes. His career as a six-term state legislator, followed by five in Congress, would be ideal for any candidate. He started early, built an organization, and succeeded in upending the state GOP favorite, Sarah Steelman (who even Sarah Palin endorsed).

Todd Akin's candidacy wasn't just another of the many GOP primary upsets this year. He represents the future of the Republican Party in so much of the nation—and this scares the shit out of McConnell, Cornyn, Priebus and their corporate masters. Not so much in his ideology, but in that the rank-and-file picked him. See, they didn't get the memo that "anti-establishment" was code for "anti-Democrat." Apparently the teabaggers think it applies to Republicans as well (ask Cliff Stearns).

This will not do.

Akin is dangerous to them because he's too experienced a politician to founder like some of the recent House freshmen have (recent events notwithstanding) and wouldn't owe them his job, not in the way McConnell cunningly got Rand Paul to despite a similar primary upset. He might just become a Senate version of Justin Amash if he gets elected. And then there will be more in 2014 and 2016. And maybe Jim DeMint or someone else like him will decide Mitch McConnell shouldn't be Republican leader anymore. And Mitch don't want that.

Fortunately for them, Todd Akin quickly gave them an opportunity to not only prevent that but make an example of him. Behind all the mealy-mouthed grousing and thundered condemnations is the reminder to the Tea Party that they are and always will be the hired help in the Republican Party, and don't you forget that.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Either You Agree Or You Don't Agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CherryTheTart, Sue B

    it is that simple. Life starts at conception or it doesn't. If it does you believe this.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 11:50:27 PM PDT

    •  Yes, I do think life starts at conception (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penguins4peace, cris0000

      when do you think it starts ?

      I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Barack Obama

      by Mariken on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 12:48:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When life is viable outside the womb (nt) (3+ / 0-)

        "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

        by KateCrashes on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 03:44:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would rather say fully human at that point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          penguins4peace

          Life inside the womb before viabilty is still life.  And as human beings we are to some degree formed by our life inside the womb right from start, which is why pregnant women are adviced not to drink alcohol, take certain drugs etc.

          Also, viability is somewhat relative.

          I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Barack Obama

          by Mariken on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 04:32:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  don't a lot of fertilised eggs fail (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            means are the ends, Mariken

            to implant in the womb, and just flush away at the next period - or something, not a biologist here.

            So that would mean a lot of life comes to nothing through no human fault.

            maybe life begins a little later?  Or is this a bit scientific to satisfy the GOP.....

      •  Life never "begins"... (3+ / 0-)

        it started over 4 billion years ago in Earth's primordial soup.  Life continues.  Is not a sperm alive? An ovum?

        The last sound on earth will be the squawk of an optimist.

        by CT yanqui on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 04:29:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But to adopt this viewpoint (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GDbot, CT yanqui

          one has to believe in both evolution and in the inherent connectedness of all forms of life, rather than privileging human life above all other life forms and privileging individual unborn life over lives already being lived and established.

          That's the real underlying morality of those positions on reproductive rights: it's not about "life" it's about human life and the potential of the unknown and potentially recruitable new Catholic.

          The unborn are ideologically and imaginably more desirable because no one (not even their parents) yet know them or know anything that is established about them, the unborn are pure potential, which makes them such a powerful ideological and partisan symbol in these battles.

          The thing that the right wing doesn't understand is that  moral decisions aren't supposed to be black and white and easy.  If that were the case, then bacteria would be moral.  If morality is what sets humans apart from other orders of lifeforms (and what gives mankind in biblical terms dominion over the other lifeforms), then that morality has to be nuanced and reflective of the supposedly superior reasoning that human beings supposedly possess.  It can't be a lowest common denominator one morality fits all.

          The right wing embraces all that is absolute, it is nuance, relativity and all the spaces between the black and the white that they oppose.

          Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

          by a gilas girl on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 07:57:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I do, actually (0+ / 0-)

      but I don't really see your dogmatic proclamations work here.

      Please leave litmus tests somewhere else.  The core point of this diary is that those questions are the wrong ones to ask about the RNC's acvtivities, too.

      If you disagree with the diary, please do so in a more explanatory way.

  •  We saw an odious 5-term GOP Rep upset in a (5+ / 0-)

    primary here in Oklahoma this year. I found him more than sufficiently tea-partyish, but apparently the local GOP voters didn't despite his 100% rating and commendatiions from the Christian Coalition and NRA and a 0% from the ACLU. He had risen in the House to the position of Assistant Minority Whip under Roy Blunt and sat on several committees. Jim Bidenstein, the GOP candidate to replace him is widely considered to be worse, although I'm not sure how that could be. Except for being backed by the Tea Party, Bidenstein is a rank newcomer with no voting record.

    We Dems are also running a newcomer, John Olson. He supports the second amendment, a balanced budget, protecting the defense budget and opposes school privatization and school vouchers along with privitizing Social Security. He says that affordable and accessible health care for all Americans is a fundamental right. If there's a chance for Oklahoma to send a Dem to the House, it's in this district.

    This should be an interesting race for everyone to watch. I think it will say something about the power of the Tea Party.

    Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

    by RJDixon74135 on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 12:23:14 AM PDT

  •  GOP wants him out because McCaskill's got the (7+ / 0-)

    best chance of beating him.  She even bought ads for him during the GOP primary season touting him as "the most conservative" so that she could run against him instead of one of his more viable competitors.

    The GOP wants to take the Senate back and unseating McCaskill would help them do that.  They need to pick up only four seats (or only three if Romney wins and Ryan replaces Biden as president of the Senate and can cast tie-breaking votes).

    It's that cold and simple.  The GOPpers don't give a hoo-ha about Akin's dumbassery.  In any other season, they'd be cheering him on to Motivate The Base with that crap.  They just want a chance to get a stronger competitor into that race.

    "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

    by KateCrashes on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 03:42:31 AM PDT

    •  they're pissed that so many Dems crossed over (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      penguins4peace, GDbot

      in the primary to vote for Akin, we have open primaries in Missouri.  He was underfunded and overmatched with that idiot Palin coming in for Steelman and the crook Brunner who self funded for the most part.  Everyone was still pissed over the asshole GOP spending $7,000,000.00 to have a separate presidential primary that DIDN'T EVEN COUNT.  The nutters voted for Santorum but they had a caucus and gave the delegates to RMoney.

      Hell my pen nearly stabbed me in the neck as I was voting for Akin.  People were seriously pissed when Palin got involved too.

      I don't agree with ANYTHING Akin says or does, but I'm freaking proud of him for standing his ground and telling those fuckers to go to hell.  They don't have any right to tell Missouri who can run or who can't.  I don't get why they think they can.  Fuck them and the horse they rode in on, they have NO right to decide those things, we do that.  They are over reaching their authority and need to STFU and back off.

      "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

      by Statusquomustgo on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 04:20:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well done for gritting your teeth (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Statusquomustgo

        the next time you vote will be easier, I hope!

      •  Thanks for the local perspective (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Statusquomustgo

        Living over a thousand miles from Missouri, and never having been there, I appreciate the local fill. I had forgotten about the Primary ... Not!, and yes, the way that was so cavalierly discarded had to rankle the rank-and-file. And it's funny how "outsider" Sarah Palin is now being used to shore up every member of the club when they get desperate.

        •  I was at a local bar when the commercial (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Daniel Case

          came on the tee-vee.. people started booing and jeering asking WTF is she doing getting involved in our politics... I could only laugh, I was speechless at the venom directed towards her and there's a good chance that's why Steelman came in 3rd....woot

          "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

          by Statusquomustgo on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:29:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I agree, but ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... the point of this diary is that, if that's all they want to do, it was either grossly incompetent, wildly desperate or (my theory) a more devious ploy to a larger end.

      Say what you will about Mitch McConnell as a politician or person—he's not stupid, and he is certainly well enough versed in the ways of power to not go nuclear like this on a mere candidate so quickly. If nudging Akin from the race was the all they intended to do, he and Cornyn and Priebus would have done it much more subtly, publicly deferring to the state party and its voters, while privately making the calls and twisting arms. That's how you wield that kind of power—by appearing not to, thus preserving Missouri Republicans' illusions that they're in the driver's seat.

      No, they did this (and even, I now think, were willing to risk the kind of failure they seem to be experiencing) in order to send a message to the Tea Party and its supporters in other states. Fuck us like this again, they are saying, and maybe next time we'll actually run the guy out. And even if we don't, we can make his lives—and yours by extension—miserable.

      Since I also think that the Ryan pick was motivated by similar considerations (the election itself is beyond salvageable; but having him on the ticket keeps the base on board in a way that Portman never would have), I am wondering if there's greater concern in the upper Republican echelons about enough members of the Tea Party deciding that "T" stands for "third" and uniting behind a late-announcing write-in candidate than anyone realizes.

  •  Akin unmasked them showing them for what (4+ / 0-)

    they are, he made them look like the weak, ignorant, lying, crooked, thieving, obstructing sacks of shit they are.  McConnell is going to have a hard time justifying his position to his abortion hating, scientifically challenged constituency back home, instead of being majority leader he just might get a vicious primary challenge.  

    "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

    by Statusquomustgo on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 04:37:07 AM PDT

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