Facing a fury of calls from his own party to drop out of the Missouri Senate race—and a 5 p.m. (CT) deadline to do so—embattled Republican Rep. Todd Akin released a new campaign ad early Tuesday apologizing for his comments about "legitimate rape" and asking for forgiveness.
I haven’t followed this story closely. It just kept forcing its way into the periphery of my attention enough to make me think about how utterly screwed up political debate is, and almost always has been, in our county.
We ‘shop’ among politicians in the same, pathetic way most shop for products. We don’t pull out our calculators, compare real prices, and then make a rational decision based on true costs. Instead, we are suckers for marketing gimmicks. And we deserve just what we get, because we insist on indulging our stupidity.
Have you ever noticed that, at times, the “advertised special” does not yield the lowest cost-per-unit on a product? I see it at grocery stores regularly. The buy-one-get-one-free (which has a big, colorful price tag proclaiming that is it a “special”) is more expensive per unit than the larger-sized, ‘regular’ priced of the same brand sitting right there on the shelf beside the ‘special.’ Or, sometimes absent a ‘special’, two five pound bags of sugar are less expensive per unit than a ten pound bag. Who knows why? But it must ‘work’ on most people most of the time.
All this to say that we are such dupes for even worse than this in the world of political campaigns. I know almost nothing about Todd Akin or even what he was talking about when he used the phrase “legitimate rape.” But even out there on the periphery of my attention, I knew what he was talking about, and it is neither insulting to any rational person, nor insensitive.
It is likely that not every situation which someone later describes as ‘rape’ is accurately defined by that term. This is what the whole ‘date rape’ debate was about. If a woman is unsure, yet excited and not really resistant, in a sexual encounter which she later regrets, is that ‘rape’? Some think that is not “legitimate” rape. We all know about that debate, and we all know what feminists think about that debate.
There is also the conjecture (and I am not at this moment taking the time to research it, so I don’t know if it is a fact) that the trauma of forcible rape (and not what is described in the preceding paragraph) makes conception much less likely.
It is possible that Todd Akin was factually wrong about this. But it was very easy to understand what he was talking about, and there is no reason why he shouldn’t talk about it if it is relevant to some policy issue under consideration. Instead, even members of Akin’s own party are calling on him to withdraw from the race. And all because the phrase “legitimate rape” appeared in a sentence he uttered. “See, this guy thinks rape is legitimate!” cry the political marketing departments. They must think most people have scrambled eggs for brains, and, unfortunately, perhaps they are right.
So we can’t talk about such things in the moronic context of political debate, or so it appears. It seems to have one of those big red and yellow tags on it, and we are not supposed to compare it to anything else on the shelf. So, in politics as at the grocery store, we deserve just what we get, because we insist on indulging our stupidity.