Bob Franken

King Features Column

(Usual yada yada yada: This column is delayed here a week after its newspaper release, because the syndicators say so)

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Instead of vilifying Todd Akin, we should be honoring him for speaking the truth. Granted, what he said in a TV interview about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy is loony falsehood, but it is paradoxically the absolute truth about the rabid and misogynistic views of the extremist “base” that now controls and defines the Republicans.
More power to him as party leaders, including presumptive nominees Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, call for him to drop out of the Missouri Senate race. It’s certainly easy to see why Ryan wants to get rid of him, since the two have marched in lock step on this.
So, when Akin has pushed back, insisting on staying in as the Missouri GOP nominee, he was not only right, but a true symbol of his far-right party Now leaders are sweating bullets, worried that his public Neanderthal views might rescue Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill from a near-death experience. But actually, he is in tune with his hardscrabble conservative state, as well as with social militants that define his party nationally.
At the same time Akin was defying the elders and money people who were threatening to choke off his campaign lifeblood money, platform drafters in Tampa, Fla., were quietly approving a section that calls for a constitutional amendment forbidding abortion. Period. No exceptions for rape or incest. Is Akin so far out? Hardly. He seems to be pretty mainstream with this bunch.
They also were advocating a prohibition of gay marriage, proselytizing for their own theologies and prejudices, demanding they be imposed on all Americans. Now, thanks to Akin, their Dark Age views are out of the dark, thrust into the harsh light where they can be seen by rational voters.

It just goes to show that this election really is about more than the economy. As vital as unemployment, tax policy and regulation are, the social issues are just as significant. Whereas the fiscal debate is between progressives and conservatives, the moral questions pit progressives against regressives. Like Todd Akin.
He and his soul mates have simplistic beliefs, and they want to inflict them on all of us. Some do it by intentionally misrepresenting facts; others spout off views that are rooted in ignorance. Akin’s view that a woman’s body will “shut the whole thing down” during “legitimate rape” to prevent pregnancy is moronic, not based on much more than conjecture from a couple of faux experts with a crackpot agenda.
How many times have we heard that committing an offense is OK, but it is definitely not OK to get caught? The zealots and their unyielding dogma were exposed by Akin’s words. He sinned by being honest.
Todd Akin’s slip raises the same kind of hope to Democrats that Sharron Angle did last time around, when her far-out rants accomplished the impossible and got Harry Reid re-elected. Ditto Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. But let us not forget that there are any number of loopy ones who manage to weather the storms they create and sail on.
Mitt Romney himself has been called “weird” on more than one occasion, but he became the presumptive nominee by being less weird than those who ran against him in the primaries. Frankly, there are a lot of strange people in national politics these days. Need I mention Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), who went skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee, or former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the Democrat from New York who went skinny-dipping in the Sea of Twitter?
They’re just among the latest who got caught with their pants down — literally. That was not what happened to Todd Akin. In his case, his fellow Republicans only wished he had kept his lips zipped up. Instead of revealing himself, he revealed the thinking of the controlling group in their party. Say what you will about Akin, he has performed a public service by providing clarity about our choices. No wonder he’s become such a pariah. He told the truth.

© 2012 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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