Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Akin And King: Behind The Curtain

Ooh, that Akin guy's gotten everyone good and riled up, hasn't he?  It's almost like the science of pregnancy shouldn't get made up in the back room of the Crimped Cocklizard gentlemen's club.  It's almost as though publicly arguing pregnant women are automatically lying when they claim to be raped is something of a faux pas, even amongst Republicans. 

(Privately arguing that is no problem, obviously.  Then again, it's not obvious what you could say that would get you thrown out of a GOP cocktail party, other than calling Grover Norquist a dumbass.)

Given that, there seems little point me discussing it.  It's just too self-evidently repulsive, and self-evidently idiotic.  You might as well challenge a blancmange butterfly to a boxing match.  You know you'd win, but how would that even work?

The response to his comment is a little more illuminating.  Firstly, there's his follow-up statement, which is what passes in Republican circles for an apology, in which he lays the blame firmly where it belongs - Democrats, obviously - and argued that his mistake was his mistaken use of the phrase "legitimate rape", when obviously what he meant was "forcible rape".

This was not an off-the-cuff remark.  This is what he hoped would get him out of trouble. It is only the case that pregnant women are automatically lying when they claim to have been forcibly raped.  It's only those sluts who go and get drunk and taken advantage of that can wake up pregnant, and that's not really our problem, is it?

The charge from the right to defend Akin now he's switched from a clearly monstrous position to a monstrous position just slightly veiled has been deafening, and instructive.  The sheer hideousness of the "forcible rape" distinction - which, let's forget, something the Republicans actually tried to install as a legal turn - is made all the more obvious when it's used to pivot from Akin's comments, so obviously the right is fighting tooth and nail to suggest it's somehow progressives who are being unreasonable here.

That's all fairly obvious as well, though.  What I wanted to pick up was another GOP lawmaker's comments on abortion that might get lost in the rush to - entirely fairly - pound Akin into the ground.  ABL herself didn't miss it, which is how I found out myself: King told an Iowa reporter he’s never heard of a child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest.

“Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way,” King told KMEG-TV Monday, “and I’d be open to discussion about that subject matter.”


Contacted by TPM, King’s office denied that King was saying he’d never heard of pregnancy resulting from statutory rape or incest. Rather, he had no direct, personal knowledge of such circumstances. “What he was saying was, he personally does not know a girl who was raped,” Brittany Lesser, a spokesperson for King said. “He never says, ‘I’ve never heard of that.’ There’s a fine line between ‘I’ve never heard of that’ and ‘I don’t know personally anybody who’s been raped. There’s a difference. There is a difference.”
(Snip in original)

Again, bear in mind that this is the supposed fixing of an off-the-cuff remark.  With the standard petulant bluster of Republicans (and no small number of Democrats, of course), King is clearly of the opinion that this is all the fault of other people for listening to the words he actually chose to say, but look at what's happening beyond that.  King is stressing, is clarifying, that he didn't mean to say there's no evidence that statutory rape or incest can't cause pregnancy, he's saying the evidence is merely statistical, not anecdotal.

This is what he wanted to be sure we understood.

It should be no surprise to anyone following American politics that many Republicans base the issues they care about entirely on their own experiences and those of the people in their social circles.  Dick Cheney, one of the most evil men alive today, is spectacularly strong on the issue of gay rights, and has a gay daughter.  John McCain, an incompetent dullard who willingly sold his soul for a shot at the Oval Office and is permanently pissed off that people remember him doing that, has an excellent record on both opposing torture and refusing to smear his opponent's families, both things of which he has had plenty of experience.

It's nice of King to demonstrate the formulation for us so explicitly, though.  Picking through the blackened, wind-blasted plains of the Republican mind can be tiring and upsetting, so I appreciate when the foundational principles are put so clearly on display.

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