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Republican Flip-Flopping on Akin Is a Sign of Romney’s Failure

The Australian Flip-Flop Tree

When Todd Akin made his “legitimate rape” comments, complete with his description of the magic powers possessed by the female reproductive system, Republicans high and low couldn’t scramble fast enough to repudiate Akin and his remarks. Every living GOP senator or former senator from Missouri called on him to quit the race. SuperPACs and DC campaign committees pulled their funding. Even Mitt Romney, eventually, called on him to step aside.

And Akin, to no one’s surprise who has watched him at work, shrugged his shoulders and went on with his campaign.

When this all broke, I wrote that Akin had three possible career paths ahead of him. From his perspective, he could quit the race and become a hypocrite to his values and beliefs, he could continue and lose and become a martyr, or he could continue and win and become a senator. Akin refused the first path, and is quite happy with either of the other two.

That leaves it to the rest of the GOP to walk the path of hypocrisy, displaying almost as many flip flops as you’d see on an Australian flip flop tree.

The state GOP released a statement saying they are over their snit and support Akin as their candidate: “Just like all of our GOP candidates elected in the August primary, the Missouri Republican Party stands behind Congressman Todd Akin in his race for United State Senate.”

There’s a ringing endorsement for you. When the state party has to release a statement saying they support their own candidate, you know something very odd is happening. But it’s not just the Missouri GOP committee.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the RNC are inching their way back toward Akin, sounding much like the MO GOP with a nice little twist of  their own:

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Thursday in an interview with CBS News that he was backing off from the heavy criticism he had leveled at Akin when he, too, was encouraging the nominee to drop out of the race.

Priebus’ prior vow that the RNC would not send Akin “a penny” apparently still applies in the technical sense, since the committee does not give money directly to candidates, but Priebus said the RNC was dedicated to doing everything it could to promote “the entire ticket” of Republicans running in Missouri.

MO senator Roy Blunt and former senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent are back on board with Akin. Talent, a key security affairs advisory to Romney, is apparently not worried that backing Akin will jeopardize his chances for being a member of Romney’s potential cabinet (as is being bandied about among GOP insiders).

Which leads me to two possible conclusions:

1) Talent is sure that Romney will shortly be flip-flopping himself on Akin, following the lead of everyone else, just as he did in waiting to condemn the “legitimate rape” comments earlier.

2) Talent is sure that Romney will lose the presidential race, and so has given up on pinning his hopes on a cabinet post. Instead, he’s trying to make hay in republican circles with both Missouri and national republicans, hoping to make Mitch McConnell the Senate Majority leader.

Or, of course, both.

Meanwhile, just as the flip-flopping begins to pick up speed, Akin has another linguistic problem to deal with (surprise, surprise):

Akin again defended remarks he made Thursday when he said McCaskill had not been very “ladylike” in their first Senate debate a week ago when she used an aggressive strategy toward Akin. He said the use of the word was not a big deal, pointing out that the wife of the president is known as the “first lady.”

McCaskill replied that she’s a former prosecutor, and was simply doing what prosecutors do. But Akin’s remark suggests a great campaign move for McCaskill. If she can convince Team Obama’s schedulers to send Michelle Obama, Esq. to Missouri, I’d love to see The First Lady take on Akin’s 18th century views on women with all the lawyerly skills at her disposal.

And make no mistake: Akin’s views are right out of the 18th century. When describing Akin on Morning Joe yesterday morning, McCaskill said “This is somebody who kind of makes Michele Bachmann look like a hippie.” Every political reporter in Missouri immediately turned green with envy, thinking to him/herself “I wish I’d said that.”

She wasn’t being snarky, simply accurate. Here’s Akin on the role of government in stopping discrimination in the workplace:

I believe in free enterprise. I don’t think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don’t pay. I think it’s about freedom. If someone what’s to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that’s fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble.

Sounds like the thinking of fine slave owners and sweatshop operators everywhere. “You work for me as my slave, and I’ll feed you, clothe you, and refrain from beating/whipping/killing you, unless you try to get out of our deal. And government should just stay out of this fine economic arrangement we’ve come to.”

But this latest display of reactionary thinking by Akin will not stop the flops from flipping. The more Romney’s fortunes founder, the more the GOP needs to pull out all the stops to win the Senate, and if principles like “women are human beings, too” need to be sacrificed to the cause, so be it.


photo h/t to Chris Samuel. When asked if the GOP will soon plant this tree at their headquarters, the RNC spokesperson refused comment.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

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