Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What If ...

I don’t normally watch Hardball with Chris Matthews, but the Yankees game hadn’t started yet and I had a few minutes to kill while doing the dishes last night. I tuned in at the end of Hardball, in time to hear Matthews describe what would happen if Romney-Ryan were elected. If you vote for Mitt Romney you get the “March of the Clowns,” said Matthews, enumerating the likes of Bachman, Trump and other extreme politicos who would shape a list of regressive disasters known to most intelligent observers and already delineated by your faithful correspondent back in January. I’ll spare you the details, but here’s a link in case you don’t remember what I wrote: http://nosocksneededanymore.blogspot.com/2012/01/america-of-our-past-and-future.html.

What prompted Matthews’ outrage Monday was the Todd Akins affair. For anyone not familiar with this ultra-conservative Republican congressman running to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri, he espoused Sunday, before partially recanting, a theory that when a woman is “legitimately” raped, her body “has ways to try to shut the whole thing (meaning, pregnancy) down,” thus negating the need for an abortion. Akins opposes all abortions.

Beyond the repulsiveness of what Akin said about rape and his utter failure to comprehend and empathize with women who are attacked sexually, Akin has performed a public service. He is proof-positive this election is about more than just the economy. Social issues, the right to an abortion being one of them, are very much at stake.

Akin exposed a basic belief among many Republicans, that there be no exceptions for abortions. It’s all part of the Republican war on women that includes shutting down Planned Parenthood, requiring invasive gynecological ultrasounds before legal abortions, and efforts to ban contraception. Though Romney said yesterday he would permit abortions in the case of rape or danger to the health of a mother, in the past he has supported a total ban. It’s another flip-flop, another example of not knowing what we’d get should Romney win. 

What’s more, a draft of the Republican Party platform to be adopted next week calls for a constitutional amendment banning all forms of abortion, according to CNN (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/gop-platform-abortion_n_1815021.html). Will Romney finesse that total ban out of the platform, or simply ignore it during the campaign, much as he has sidestepped specifics about his economic recovery plan and his taxes? 

His presumptive running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, in linked to Akins. As Eugene Robinson pointed out in The Washington Post, “Last year, Akin co-sponsored a bill in the House that would have narrowed the exception that allows Medicaid funds to pay for abortions for women who are raped. The proposed measure would have permitted the use of funds only to end pregnancies resulting from ‘forcible rape.’ Paul Ryan, now Mitt Romney’s running mate, was another co-sponsor of the measure, which ultimately failed.

“The statutory rape of a child by an adult would not fit the definition the House Republicans tried to impose; nor would the rape of a woman who was drugged, say, or who had limited mental capacity. Never mind the fact that, as far as criminal law is concerned, rape is rape. Never mind the fact that all rape, by its very nature, is ‘forcible.’

“Akin’s assertion about ‘legitimate’ rape is really nothing but an attempt to blame the victim. It stems from the view that the only true victim is a woman who is raped while violently resisting a ski-masked assailant who came in through the bedroom window. Anything short of that, she must have been asking for it.”

Robinson also noted, “Akin, by the way, is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.” 

Hey, Chris Matthews—no need to send in the clowns. They’re already here.