Is There Life After Campaign Blunders Like "Legitimate Rape?" Ask Clayton Williams

Categories: Politics

claytie.jpg
Clayton "Claytie" Williams was a shoe-in for governor in 1990 and a pretty entertaining guy. Then came the rape wisecrack.
It looks like the epitaph of Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's political aspirations are written in a Sunday morning interview on a Fox affiliate in St. Louis. The staunchly anti-abortion, GOP Senate candidate said women rarely get pregnant from rape, a misconception repeatedly disproved in medical research. Instead of stopping there, however, he excavated a deeper hole for himself by inventing some kind of biological response to sexual assault -- a kind of gynecological goalkeeper, if you will -- which defends against the resulting fertilization of an unwanted sexual encounter.

"If it's a legitimate rape," he said, "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

The implication being, if she wants it, even just a little, she's more likely to get pregnant. Thus, the rape is illegitimate, I guess? Wait...no. Never mind. The point is, what he said is fucking dumb. Research demonstrates the exact opposite of this oft-debunked theory.

Now Akin's buttocks tremble at the impact of each paddling administered behind the woodshed, not just by Democrats but by presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, asked Akin to "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." Sounds like an entreaty to drop out to me. Everybody's scrambling to distance themselves from this guy, and now Republicans are wondering if Sen. Claire McCaskill will pull an Ann Richards on Akins, upending their plans to unseat her.

What do I mean by "an Ann Richards?"

Back in 1990, when Richards was the State Treasurer and the Democratic nominee in a gubernatorial run-off against a salty Midland wildcatter named Clayton Williams, it looked like she was going to get whupped. Or it did until Williams, a group of campaign workers, and reporters prepared for a cattle round-up on his ranch one cold, foggy day in March. Eyeing the weather, he opined that it was kinda like rape.

''If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it," he quipped, according to the AP. I can see the blanching faces of his campaign workers now.

Richards, like McCaskill, pounced, of course. The remark ''questions his ability to understand the kinds of problems faced by the people of Texas,'' Richards said. ''Rape is a crime of violence.''

Williams had outspent Richards 2-to-1. At one point he led her by 20 points in the polls. But his rape simile proved insurmountable. He lost to Richards by two points -- a close 100,000 votes. Nearly 20 years later, his name was still so toxic GOP presidential hopeful John McCain canceled a fundraiser hosted by Williams. You can bet the GOP is looking at this Texas upset and wondering if they didn't just hand McCaskill a Richards-style win.

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38 comments
TexOHara
TexOHara

If Akin stays in until the end, the election in Missouri will serve as a litmus test for how polarized the electorate has become. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

The republican party is made up of colossal hypocrites who are for government interference when it's convenient, and who are against government interference when it's not convenient.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

It is possible to be against rape, forcible or not, to view it as an unmitigated evil and grave violation of a woman's rights.

And at the same it is possible to view abortion as an unmitigated evil and a grave violation of the right of human child to be born and to live.

The two views are not mutually exclusive. Millions around the world hold them.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Todd Akins is the quintessential Poster Boy of the Republican Party.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

I'm trying to understand why a "Local Dallas Daily Blog" gives a rat's ass what is going on in this Missouri race.

 

Oh yeah, it's so you can whip the liberal readers back into a frenzy so they forget that they are unemployed or underemployed because of the failed policies of this administration.  Or is all still President Bush's fault?

 

Or did the staff spend the other night driving under the aerial spraying in a convertible with the top down and their tongues hanging out?

MisterMean
MisterMean

I hope that he stays in.  He is a typical Tal-i-ban-Reb-li-can.   Just look at all the anti women legislation that the GOP has introduced this year.   He is the poster child for the GOP!    Keep in the race and remind everyone every chance one gets of how out of touch the religious right wing Republican whackos are!

jerikjonsson
jerikjonsson

BH, if memory serves, the fall he took in the polls due to the rape joke was likely not enough to lose the race, which is interesting or terrifying depending on how you look at it.  I think it was his behavior at the last debate that really did him in.  Refused to shake her hand IIRC.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Here's a key point not touched on - Akin is a six term congressman.  Yep that's right he has been in congress for six terms.    Appears stupid is the only truly renewable resource we have.

Texbard
Texbard

@Dallas_Observer The blunder that sealed it for the fabulous & much- missed Gov Ann Richards.

Edward
Edward

Apparently it keeps getting better: according to Mike Huckabee, the "nice" guy who tells you that you will burn in hell but does it with a smile, joking with Jon Stewart:

 

On his radio broadcast with Akins, Huckabee stated: "Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape," Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: "I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things."

 

So hey - some great people (excluding James Robison of course) were created by forcible rape! Maybe all the guys should start doing some legitimate/forcible rape on some gals so we can get some more great gospel singers and crazy religious zealots like James Robison!

Edward
Edward

Family Research Council: ‘We Support Todd Akin Fully And Completely’

 

American Family Association: 'Akin Is Right — ‘Genuine’ Rape Makes It ‘Impossible’ To Conceive'

 

These are groups that Republican politicians answer to, especially after the Chickfila brouhaha. 

 

Akin didn't "misspeak" - he even went on Huckabee's show and clarified that he MEANT to say "forcible" rape. Previously he fought to make marital rape okay. And he wasn't alone, there were several other Republicans to back him up.

 

Women under 50 who have never really had to fight for birth control need to take a hard look at what the Republican party is trying to do. With fetal personhood bills, attempts to eliminate birth control from insurance policies, attempts to redefine rape, etc., they are refighting battles that your mother and grandmother thought had been won a long time ago.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

If the "liberal media" followed these guys around with a tape recorder and camera, they'd all have to quit.

 

James080
James080

Clearly this man is too stupid to hold public office. Wait. On second thought, he would probably fit right in with all of the liars, thieves and scoundrels currently "serving" in the legislature.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

at least he's not one heart beat away.

 

And we aren't saying , Oh that's just Uncle Todd.

Edward
Edward

Everyone acts as if this guy is out of the Republican mainstream. He's not. He and other Republicans have spent the past year trying to redefine "rape" because they thought some women didn't fight enough, so they shouldn't really count as "real" rape victims.

 

He also joined with Paul Ryan on one of the fetal personhood bills. 

 

He didn't "misspeak", he said exactly what he and large part of the Republican party think.

 

And of course, who has been first to defend him? Our good friends at the Family Research Council. 

Edward
Edward

 @bmarvel To me, the issue is the desire of the Republican party to enact laws that put a priority of the second view over the first. 

 

It's wonderful to have so much "sympathy" for women who are raped, but then to follow that up with making it a criminal act if that woman to decides not to have their rapist's baby is I believe a very grave violation of that woman's rights.

 

And it's clear that many Republicans honestly believe that righteous women can somehow turn on mystical, magical woman juices of some sort to prevent themselves from getting pregnant by a rapist. So it's only women who weren't "really" raped who get pregnant, and they shouldn't be allowed to get an abortion if they want one. Or as Sharon Angle and Rick Santorum have said, "Turn lemons into lemonade".

Edward
Edward

 @PlanoDave Sadly, it's NOT just what's going on in the Missouri race. What Akin stated matches up with the Republican platform. So if you believe that there should be no exception for rape or incest in the availability of abortion you are in total agreement with the Republican party, and also with Rep. Ryan, who wants to be our Vice President.

 

That means: if you are a woman who is raped, the Republican party wants you to be charged with a crime if you decide that you do not want to carry your rapist's baby to birth.

 

If you think birth control should be limited (or in some cases made illegal), then you are in agreement with every single Republican senator (excluding Olympia Snowe).

 

These men don't even know how birth control WORKS, but they want to make sure you can't get it.

 

I think these are definitely things that all Americans should understand, not just the poor folks in Missouri who are stuck with this guy who thinks it's okay for husbands to rape their wives.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

 @holmantx

 "yawn"?

 

yes, like you I find that these right wingers saying stupid stuff is getting a bit boring. It seems to be happening so often it's not even as fun as it used to be, it's getting so predictable.

 

The article didn't point it out, but in his attempt at an explanation Akin stated "it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year."

 

"empathy"?? my gosh, the man isn't intelligent enough to understand the difference between empathy and sympathy.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

 @holmantx When you yawn with your head up your ass, you get a mouthful of your own shit.

Enjoy!

gmit
gmit

 @Edward All you sheep fell for this "blunder" you really think these guys that talk for a living and have talked for a living for decades make these blunders?

 

You ever think this was orchestrated so all the other Republicans could show how appalled they are ? Maybe not but accepting politics at face value is very dangerous.

 

You really think Joe Biden is a idiot, or a guy that can say things for the administration to address certain audience free of burden to the HMIC 

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

 @Montemalone If "an intelligent person" followed Joe Biden around with a tape recorder and camera the Obama spokespersons wouldn't have anything on their plate other than explaining Joe Biden...

James080
James080

 @Montemalone They would have to be capable of shame to quit. Clearly, they don't experience that emotion.

GreatUnwashed
GreatUnwashed

 @Edward So all republicans are for rape? please clarify, i need help deciding which way to vote and if all republicans are for rape then maybe my decision is easy. Democrats are against rape I hope?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

 @Edward Let me see if I have learned how liberals like to argue.  Here we go...

 

A woman is the victim in the case of rape, and the baby is the victim in the case of abortion.  Which one is alive afterward to talk about how much it sucked?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

 @Edward Sadly, this publication and it's readers are more upset about Akin getting re-elected than they are about EBJ getting re-elected.

 

That means, if you want our schools to start actually educating students and encouraging high performance, the Democratic party wants you to stay you are a racist.

 

If you think that people should actually be eligible to vote before doing so, then you are labeled a racist.

 

Try studying up on the concept of "Circle of concern vs. Circle of influence".  It's a pretty cool concept.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

 @Montemalone Whew MAN!  I come over here and WOW!  It’s like a Liberal crypt where Republican archeologists just popped the seal and the raw stench strong enough to knock a buzzard of a shitwagon at forty yards makes a man outa everybody.

 

however, you need to work on it.

TexOHara
TexOHara

 @PlanoDave True, but the Obama Camp is smart enough to keep Biden locked in a closet for long periods of time until they absolutely have to let him out.

Edward
Edward

 @GreatUnwashed Um, no. That's not what I said.

 

My point was that Akin's statements (and beliefs, about women's bodies being able to shut down "bad" pregnancies and that are apparently "good" rapes and "bad" rapes) are NOT out of the mainstream. 

 

In other words, the guy who won the Republican primary to be a US Senator isn't some fringe, crazy person that's out in left field – he's in the mainstream Republican party. No matter how much they are scrambling now trying to distance themselves, it's only because what many of them believe is now getting some visibility and they realize it could have some negative push back. It's not because they disagree with him, it's because they wish he hadn't said it out loud.

 

And yes, I think Democrats are against rape.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

 @Edward 

Yes, the woman has the misfortune of bearing an unwanted child, a child that was forced upon her. There is no easy answer to that. It's simply a terrible injustice. But killing the baby does not redress that injustice. It simply adds a further injustice. Is the baby guilty? Does killing it punish the rapist?

Society has an obligation to the woman and her baby to see that she has every possible care and support, and to see to it that the baby, whoever raises it, faces a decent life. This is a public obligation in the fullest sense of the word. (Not an idea popular with "conservatives.")

We like to  believe that there is a redress to every possible injustice, a way to smooth every tragedy, undo every injury. But there just isn't. 

Finally, Edward, I suspect we are not going to get anywhere debating this subject. You have a pretty clear idea of my views; you disagree with them. I am now aware of your views and I disagree. Debating just to score points off each other -- a popular passtime on this blog -- will serve no purpose. I admire your courtesy in addressing my comments. Let's leave it at that. 

 

Edward
Edward

So you believe that the government should be able to force a woman to have the baby if she is raped?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

 @PlanoDave 

In the end, I don't think you've learned anything, Plain Old Dave. 

I do think the debate on abortion would be clearer if we could decouple it from partisan politics. (But then every debate would be clearer if we could think outside of our partisan boxes.)

I'm not sure what makes abortion a "conservative" versus a "liberal" issue, inasmuch as neither of these terms has much real meaning anymore. What is it the "conservatives" want to conserve? What is it the "liberals" are all so free about?

The moral obligation to allow every child to be born carries with it an equal moral obligation to see to it that child has the necessities of a fair and decent life, which implies a social support network. But so-called "conservatives" do not seem to see this side of the equation.They would prefer no support system at all to one that involves government at any level. 

Of course as a non-aligned voter, I realize I'm stepping on all kinds of toes, here, Left- and Right-footed. But if you want to walk with anything like balance, you have to use both feet.

 

 

 

Edward
Edward

 @PlanoDave Hey, I wasn't thrilled about EBJ and didn't vote for her. Unfortunately, the other option at the time was someone who is probably even more off the deep end than Akin would ever be.

 

As for your other points, education is clearly at the bottom of the list for the Republican party. They aren't only disinterested in education, they are openly hostile toward it. The only "education" they are want is the kind where a private company they have invested in makes money.

 

I can't believe you even bring up the proven fallacy of the voting eligibility ploy. There has been no proof that it's a major (or even minor problem), and many Republican have gone on record to say that their goal is to keep minorities from voting. I'm not sure how much more racist you can get.

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