Oh, my. Akin's back.
Akin's timing is superb -- for Democrats. It encapsulates, in raw and brutal form, the "lesser evil" argument. (I'm just waiting for Green supporters to be called rape apologists, in a recapitulation of the racist smears of 2008). After all, given that this is an election year, it's important for Ds to recapture some percentage of the women they threw under the bus in 2008, when Obama's campaign was distinguished by utterly vile misogyny; misogyny conveniently tossed down the memory hole by the career "progressives" of today, who've switched, without missing a beat, from vilifying and smearing the (mainly female) PUMAs -- actually, and successfully, making the term "PUMA" a hate trigger -- to posing as the defenders of women everywhere.
Does anybody seriously believe that electing Obama will make a dime's worth of difference stopping rape, or for women generally? Why would they? Does anybody actually read what Obama says, or watch what he does? Let's put the famous "rape is rape" in context, shall we? Let's roll the transcript:
OBAMA: Well, let me, first of all, say the views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.
Although, of course, the entire discourse of making exceptions for rape in laws restricting abortion demands exactly that parsing. (In terms of the political process, what the Christian right that shapes Akin's worldview trying to do is restrict the definition of rape as a method of further restricting abortion. That's what the "legitimate" is all about.)
So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.
Which is, of course, exactly what Executive Order 13535, signed by Obama in 2010, does:
Section. 1. Policy. Following the recent enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the "Act"), it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), consistent with a longstanding Federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment. ...
THE WHITE HOUSE,
March 24, 2010.
Back to the transcript:
[OBAMA: ] And so, although these particular comments have led Governor Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, [here comes the swing] I think the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions -- or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape -- [and the miss] I think those are broader issues, and that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other party.
Can you decode "broader issues"? Does "a significant difference in approach between me and the other party" actually mean anything? Are we really going to vote for an "approach"?
Note also that Obama very carefully personalizes the issue: The difference is between him and the Republicans, and not Democrats and Republicans. And why? Because there are plenty of Democrats who would vote with Akins and Ryan, if push came to shove. (Marcy Kaptur, for example, who is so sound on foreclosure, is a right-to-lifer.)
But I don’t think that they would agree with the Senator from Missouri in terms of his statement, which was way out there.
Well, actually, no. It represents the view of a strong part of Akins' base in the Christian right, which Obama doesn't mention either.
Back to the timing, which again couldn't be better for Ds. Here are the steps:
1. Akins goes viral, which is
2. an opportunity for a Democratic moral panic, which
3. generates a tribal push for women to return to the Democrats, just before
4. The Democratic national convention in August, which will be followed by
5. Obama's report on sequestration cuts September 6 -- tellingly, a law passed with bipartisan support and barely a whisper of news coverage -- which will explain which part of Social Security and/or Medicare will be cut...
6. After the women (and especially the elder women) who will be impacted by them are safely back in the Democratic roach motel.
7. After the election, whichever party is elected, the cuts will come -- unless we stop them -- but if a single solitary woman is helped, it's going to be by accident. Will Obama and the Democrats support the ERA? Of course not. Will Obama unsign Executive Order 13535? Of course not. Is re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act even a campaign issue? Of course not.
And on and on and on.
NOTE Inspired by a shorter post from Katiebird.
UPDATE In pure policy terms, the whole flap is about whether Federal Law should on abortion should be narrowed from brutally restrictive to insanely restrictive. That's all it's about. And Congress, even this Congress, already rejected -- saw the link, gotta run -- legislation based on the restrictive theories that Akins and the Christian right espoused; and will again. So, in terms of actual outcomes, there's zero effect. Adding... Modulo the Republicans abolishing the filibuster with the nuclear option. Which the Democrats should already have done.
UPDATE One of the things I hate most about the Democrats, even though they do it very effectively, is the way they take hostages from their own base to support policies that are still evil, because that's what 2% less evil is. Under ACA, the hostages were those that ACA insured (to bail out the health insurance companies and protect women). Here, the hostages are women, and especially women who've suffered rape, and those who want to help them. It's just unconscionable.