Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney

US Senate Candidate Todd Akin of MO Believes “Legitimate Rape Victims” Won’t Get Pregnant

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Folks, I’ve seen some bad politicians in my lifetime.  And I’ve seen some stupid ones, too.  But rarely have I seen such utter stupidity — not to mention total ignorance of biology — on display by a bad politician as with the comments of United States Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), currently running for the US Senate against incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).  Akin believes that victims of “legitimate rape” are not likely to get pregnant because apparently the female body “will shut (stuff like that) right down.”  Here’s his full comment, in context, from a recent post at Talking Points Memo:

Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill, justified his opposition to abortion rights even in case of rape with a claim that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses that prevent pregnancy.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin said that even in the worst-case scenario — when the supposed natural protections against unwanted pregnancy fail — abortion should still not be a legal option for the rape victim.

Obviously, Akin is plain, flat wrong.  (Not to mention unlettered, ignorant, and in need of a basic health refresher course.)  Pregnancy can occur with any unprotected sex between two people, and while rape is much different than “unprotected sex,” rapists don’t usually wear condoms, nor do they worry about birth control. 

You’d think all of this goes without saying, but apparently to someone like Akin, it doesn’t.

Look.  As President Obama said today, “rape is rape.”  Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, too, has condemned Akin’s statement, calling it “insulting” and “inexcusable.”  Good for them.

Indeed, many in the GOP has condemned Akin, yet the main problem the GOP has right now is that Akin, along with GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan, himself a US Rep. from Janesville, WI, tried to get a law through the House of Reps. that used a similar term — “forcible rape” — to limit government aid for abortions.

Here’s a link to one of the best articles I’ve managed to find yet regarding why Akin’s shocking remark may torpedo the GOP’s chances in Missouri and elsewhere; the upshot is that Akin knows Ryan well, and because of what amounts to secondhand contamination — and well-known, long-held similar views with regards to rape — this may hurt the GOP Presidential ticket in the fall.

Conservative commentator John Podhoretz, writing in Commentary Magazine (here’s the link), describes Akin’s remarks thusly:

The moral, intellectual, and spiritual ignoramus who spoke those words is Todd Akin. He won the Missouri primary two weeks ago in a three-way race against two other conservatives, taking 36 percent of the vote—his two major rivals together won about 60 percent.

The PJ Tatler bluntly says this about Akin’s remarks:

This isn’t a gaffe. It’s a nuclear bomb.

Exactly so.

My advice to Akin is this: withdraw from the US Senate race while the getting’s good.  (As I understand it, Akin has about a day to withdraw, then the Missouri GOP can field another candidate.  Anyone would have to be better than this guy.)  Then figure out a new line of work, hope your Congressional pension will be good enough for you to while away your golden years, and do your best to stay away from microphones for the good of all concerned.

I’d also suggest taking that refresher course on basic human biology, too, as that might keep you from making any more small-minded and uninformed comments.  But that’s only something you should do if you wish to rejoin the rest of the human race as an informed, thinking, and feeling human being . . . no pressure.

Tuesday Election News: Romney Finishes 3rd in Alabama, Mississippi

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Folks, you’re going to hear much in the next 24 to 48 hours about Rick Santorum, because Santorum won both Alabama and Mississippi this evening.  While that is correct, the real news is that Mitt Romney, despite spending an enormous amount of money, finished third in both contests.  (Newt Gingrich finished second.) 

You must keep this very simple fact in mind in upcoming days, because assuredly Santorum and Romney are going to attempt to frame this narrative to benefit themselves. 

The fact is that Romney finished third, which proves that Romney is extremely unpopular with Republican voters.  (This makes me wonder just who’s going to vote for the guy if Romney does, indeed, get to the general election against the current President of the United States, Barack Obama.)  There is absolutely no argument left for Romney to position himself as a moderate except to run on his record — and if he does that, he’s going to alienate even more conservative voters than he already has.

What’s odd about all this is that Romney views himself as an “inevitable” candidate; some of his campaign staff and surrogates have even hinted that Romney believes his candidacy to be “divinely inspired.”  Yet finishing third after spending such a huge amount of money is not the way an “inevitable candidate” is supposed to win, something Gingrich pointed out in his concession speech tonight. 

This points out that, at least for the moment, Gingrich has his pulse on what’s really going on with the Republican voters.  Neither Santorum, nor especially Romney’s people — as Romney did not make a speech this evening at all — are going to say this, but it’s the plain, flat truth: between them, Santorum and Gingrich won over 60% of the vote (closer to 70% in Alabama), and that shows that around 2/3 of the Republican voters in these states really do not want Romney as their nominee

This is the real story: how many people are going out to vote in the Republican primaries and caucuses solely to vote against Romney in some way, shape or form.  Any other story, up to and including the fact that Santorum won (providing he doesn’t acknowledge this “inevitable” point), is nothing less than an incredibly distorted framing of the narrative.

Whither Iowa? Thoughts on the 2012 Iowa Caucuses

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If you watch politics on television as much as I do, you probably have seen a great deal of hoopla surrounding the 2012 Iowa Caucuses.  This is the first test of several Republican candidates** who’ve had their moments in the sun — including Michele Bachmann (who won the Ames Straw Poll last year), Newt Gingrich (ahead in the polls in Iowa in early December), Rick Perry (ahead in the polls in mid-September), Ron Paul (ahead in some Iowa polls as little as two weeks ago), the hard-charging Rick Santorum (who could actually win tonight) and, of course, well-heeled frontrunner Mitt Romney, who ran in 2008 and whose support seems to run a steady 25% whether he campaigns hard — or doesn’t — in Iowa.

But the question remains, “Why does what the people in Iowa think of these candidates matter so much year after year?”

There’s an easy answer that goes like this:  “Well, c’mon, Barb!  These Iowans see the candidates every four years.  They’re less likely to glom onto a candidate who’s all talk and no action — that goes without saying!” 

But that’s a facetious answer.  The real reason Iowans matter so much is because most of ’em are middle-income folks and below.  These are as close to “real people” as the candidates on both sides are likely to see; between Iowa and New Hampshire, ordinary citizens get to have more dialogues with candidates than anywhere else.  And this may give campaigns like Romney’s a better idea of what middle-income people want out of their government, especially as the words “Romney” and “middle-income” go together about as well as a bullwhip and iced tea.

As a long-time political watcher, I’ve seen candidates do well in Iowa but flash-and-fade otherwise (2008 Republican winner Mike Huckabee comes to mind, here; so does 1980 Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush).  I’ve seen some candidates, like Barack Obama, do very well — surprisingly so — in Iowa, which helps them overall, yet others who’ve done well in Iowa, like Howard Dean and/or John Edwards, aren’t able to maximize their opportunities down the road and end up with that flash-and-fade effect, which looks the same regardless of party.

See, some of the candidates just peak too soon, that’s all.  Newt Gingrich seems to be one example of this, though he may well rally as he’s an intelligent, highly-seasoned political operative and if anyone can do it, he can.  Rick Perry is yet another one, though in Perry’s case he’s been his own worst enemy in the debates and that has definitely hurt him.

Over time, what the Iowa caucuses have shown is this: if a politician is smart, and can rally from this experience (whatever it may be), he or she will do well.   But you must learn from whatever it is the Iowans are telling you; if they’re saying, as I believe they are to Rick Perry, “Rick, we really like you, but you don’t have the gravitas.  You need to go work on your public speaking, develop a foreign policy, and come back in four to eight years,” the best thing Perry could do going forward is give himself a crash course in foreign policy, do his best to look like a statesman, and study up before he goes into another debate lest he have another one of those “oops!” moments.

Or if they say to Ron Paul, “Ron, we really like your energy.  You’re a breath of fresh air and we wish that more Republicans were like you in speaking their minds,” Paul needs to realize that what they’re saying, while gratifying personally, may not translate to electoral success in other states.  I’ll be interested to see if Paul can indeed follow up what I’m sure will be a very strong showing tonight — top four, easily, and he could possibly win the state as Romney isn’t beloved in Iowa — with a good showing in New Hampshire and a halfway decent one in South Carolina.  If he can do that, then he has real potential nationally.

And the guy with the most to gain — or lose — is obviously Rick Santorum.  The pundits have claimed for the past several days that Santorum will win, or come in second or maybe a close third, but that Santorum will definitely be a major factor. 

As I see it, Santorum could gain much if he wins Iowa; he’ll have instant national attention, a bigger flow of money toward him (as many people back a winner, but fewer flock to those who are seen to lose unless they’re super-committed — and those, in this crowd, mostly go for Paul or Gingrich, not Santorum), and more media types reporting on what he does every day, thus an easier way to get on free TV and make a bigger difference nationally.

But what he loses if he doesn’t come in the top four (assuming the top four will be nearly evenly split) is breathtaking, considering how far the expectations for his campaign have been ratcheted up. 

My prediction, for what it’s worth, is that Romney, Paul, Santorum and Gingrich will all have around 15% of the vote (or a bit more).  I think it’s more likely than not that Paul will win Iowa because his voters are passionate, committed, will caucus, will stay as long as is necessary and are vocal about their support.  But I have a sneaky suspicion that Gingrich will do better than he’s polled, too, because the folks who are backing Gingrich do it for these reasons: he’s smart.  He has good answers in the debates.  He’s a wily, resilient old pol in the best sense of that word; he knows how to roll with the punches.  And best of all for Gingrich’s supporters, Gingrich is the only one of the lot who seems to understand that to become President someday, you must turn your liabilities into strengths.  (I’m not totally sold on whether or not Gingrich has actually done this.  But I can see that he’s really tried to do so and that attempt matters.)

And I believe that Santorum, at the end of tonight, will either be ecstatic — in that he’s greatly exceeded expectations — or crushed.  I’m unwilling to say at this time which is more likely.

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Note:  As President Obama is running unopposed in the Democratic caucuses, those are expected to be far more quiet — and far less well attended — than the Republican caucuses.  (As you might expect.)**

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm