OK, we’ve had a Willie Horton moment, and last week Swift Boat came up when a former Navy SEAL assailed President Barack Obama for taking credit for killing Osama Bin Lade; now comes Sister Souljah.
Commentator after commentator suggests that Rep. Todd Akin’s assertion that “legitimate rape” victims rarely get pregnant, and thus need no abortions, has ignited a storm of controversy in the Republican ranks. This is Mitt Romney’s Sister Souljah moment, a few pundits contend, comparing the incident with the troubling episode President Bill Clinton struggled to quell in 1992.
While Clinton managed to distance himself sufficiently from that toxic moment, it’s now to be seen how Romney handles the current situation, which may sink the Republicans’ chance to gain another seat in the Senate.
Despite the uproar and pressure from his party, Akin has not terminated his re-election campaign, though he has apologized for the comment.
“Governor Romney and Congressman [Paul] Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-
Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” Andrea Saul, a Romney spokesperson, told the Huffington Post.
In a statement to the press, Romney said that Akin’s “fellow Missourians urged him to step aside. I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race.”
Under Missouri law, Akin has until Sept. 25 to obtain a court order to withdraw from the race. Even so, he would have to pay for the reprinting of the ballots.
“Let me make it absolutely clear,” Akin said on Mike Huckabee’s radio show. “We’re going to continue with this race for the U.S. Senate.”
Last year, Akin and Ryan co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, an attempt on the part of Republicans to redefine rape as it relates to abortions. The bill specified that only in instances of “forcible rape” would a woman be eligible to have her abortion covered under insurance. Of course, this begs the question of the difference between forcible rape and any other kind of rape.
“Rape is rape,” Obama said during a press conference last Monday. “The views expressed were offensive. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.
“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.”