All the feverish Republican efforts to shove Todd Akin offstage cannot mask the fundamental truth: Ideologically speaking, he and the GOP are peas in a pod. The only real difference is that most Republicans use decorous language, whereas Akin speaks in Neanderthal.Everybody from Karl Rove and Sean Hannity to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would dearly love to see Akin exit the Missouri Senate race, pronto, because it’s downright embarrassing to be linked to a junk-science extremist who thinks that the female body can distinguish between the sperm of a consensual partner and the sperm of a rapist. Someone who thinks he can draw a distinction between between “legitimate” rape and not-rape kinds of rape.
As the GOP-friendly Wall Street Journal lamented this morning, the party nominee in that crucial Missouri race “uttered one of the more offensive and ill-informed comments in recent years.” As Republican commentator Rich Galen lamented on his blog late last night, Akin ‘s statement “is so wrong on so many levels that you have to wonder whether (a) Akin slept through junior high health class, and (b) what the hell’s an illegitimate rape?”But what’s important to remember, regardless of whether Akin stays in or gets out, is that he was merely trying – via his cave man locutions – to defend his belief that women should be forced by government decree to bear the children of their rapists. And that’s precisely what veep candidate Paul Ryan has always believed. It also happens to be the official belief of the Republican party.In 2000, 2004, and 2008, the GOP’s platform committee approved (with minor variations) language that envisioned a virtually total ban on abortion. “The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed” – not even in cases of incest or rape. And today, down in Tampa, the 2012 platform committee is expected to approve the same language again. Republicans, led by Romney, want Akin to quit not just because he’s imperiling a very winnable Senate race (and the GOP’s prospects of winning the Senate majority), and not just because he has become the Christine O’Donnell/Sharron Angle laughingstock of this election cycle, but – more importantly – because his presence brings unwanted attention to the party’s conservative social agenda. Romney is deeply unpopular with women voters (particularly unmarrieds, and those under age 50); he can ill afford to make things worse.Each day Akin sticks around is another day when more women may discover that he and Paul Ryan have been sympatico for years. They both believe as a matter of faith that government should be empowered to tell women what to do. Back in 2009, for instance, they joined forces to co-sponsor a House bill that sought to grant “all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood” to the fertilized egg.The significance of giving legal rights to egg-Americans should be obvious: If an egg is a person, any attempts to prevent its implantation in the uterus are tantamount to murder. Which would mean that anyone selling or using most forms of contraception (such as the IUD, and the morning-after pill) would be classed as a murderer. This “personhood” concept is so extreme that when it landed on the referendum ballot last year in Mississippi, the voters in that scarlet-red state turned it down. Ponder that one for a moment: Not only is Todd Akin more extreme than the voters of Mississippi, but so is the Republican candidate for vice president.Republicans would prefer that swing voters not know these things. They want Akin to go away not because they oppose his moral values (quite the contrary, they share those values), but ony because they’re embarrassed by how he defended them. Republicans had no problems with Akin until he blundered into the realm of female biology. If he had spoken more articulately about why women should be forced to give birth to rapists’ offspring, Republicans would be silent still. Because, with respect to shredding women’s rights on the health front, he is one of them. ——-Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1