Obama Addresses Akin's Remarks on Rape

President Obama today called GOP Senate Candidate Todd Akin's statement about rape and pregnancy offensive. So did Mitt Romney, but he wouldn't join other Republicans in calling for Akin should step down.

What he said (in response to a question about his opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape resulting in pregnancy:)

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

The RNC Chair called his comments "bizzare" and "biologically stupid" and suggested he forego attending the convention. Missouri Republicans can still select a replacement candidate if Akin drops out by tomorrow at 6 p.m.

Here's the reaction of medical experts to his woefully misinformed view of pregnancy and rape. [More....]

Politico has taken Dave Catanese off its Akin coverage following his comments on Twitter.

Akin cancelled his scheduled interview on Piers Morgan tonight. Piers called him a "gutless little twerp."

He's toast. No one can survive public attacks of this intensity. I never heard of him before yesterday, and will be glad never to hear from him again.

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    Well (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:17:28 PM EST
    he started off good but would have been better if he did not go into this disjointed discussion of "qualified" rape. He completely lost me when he said men should not be making these decisions. Okay. Where was this when he signed onto the Stupak Amendment? He certainly has said that men should be making these decisions before now. Whatever. Bottom line is he talked too much here. Short and sweet would have been better because what Akin said just speaks for itself.

    I wish he would stop trying so damn hard (5.00 / 8) (#2)
    by Peter G on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:18:59 PM EST
    to sound Presidential, and would instead seize the opportunity here to kick some @ss.  Twice in a minute and half he has to go out of his way to say that he doesn't think Romney (or apparently Ryan, whom he doesn't mention) would agree with Akin.  Au contraire.  At least he points out that on abortion policy generally (never using a A-word, of course) there is a significant difference between himself (not "Democrats," however, again unfortunately) and "the other party" (again, too nice to name and call them out?).

    I think (none / 0) (#3)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:30:54 PM EST
    part of that is he just talks too darn much. If he just stopped talking so much he wouldn't be yammering on about this person doesn't think and that party probably x. I have wondered for quite a while why he missed the KISS part of law school? I mean neither Jeralyn nor BTD seem to have a problem with this.

    Here is an example of a concise verbal (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by caseyOR on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:36:29 PM EST
    rejection of Akin's remark's.

    "As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin's comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong," Brown said. "There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for US Senate in Missouri."

    This comment was made by Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). It may be the only time I have ever agreed with Brown.


    Such statements are also self-serving. (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:48:53 PM EST
    For painfully obvious reasons, Scott Brown quite rightfully does not want to be associated with such patently offensive comments. But as I noted in an earlier thread today, which bears repeating here:

    "The only reason that the mainstream GOP is now pressuring Congressman Todd Akin to step aside in the Missouri Senate race, is due to the fact that they find his uncompromising misogyny and inflammatory remarks to be rather inconvenient fodder for Democrats in the middle of an election campaign.

    "However, that misogyny and those remarks are wholly and entirely consistent with the GOP's current behavior, as articulated in both the party's platform and its legislative agenda regarding a woman's right to reproductive choice and freedom.

    "This is just another disgusting example of Republican hypocrisy at work. Todd Akins gets the shaft from the RNC and its allies, while his legislative partner-in-crime Paul Ryan -- Akin's co-sponsor in 'The Sanctity of Life Act,' which would redefine personhood as having commenced at the moment of conception -- gets the GOP's vice presidential nomination."



    Of course Brown's statement was (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by caseyOR on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:09:43 PM EST
    self-serving. So was Obama's and Romney's and Prebius's and every other politico who weighed in.

    And Brown is hardly in the forefront of feminism. Of course neither is Obama.

    My point was that even someone like Brown, who I must admit I have always thought of as a bit of a bimbo, was able to make a clear and concise statement. Obama, sadly, was not.


    My take is more favorable; (none / 0) (#12)
    by KeysDan on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:03:41 PM EST
    his demeanor was presidential but did not eclipse his feelings.   His seemingly feigned  disbelief that Romney would not feel as he did just put Romney  deeper in the box of his own making.

    And, no need to elevate Ryan to any higher level of seriousness, as may occur by a presidential reference.  Saying that his position sets him and Democrats apart from "the other party" would be difficult since some Democrats are more in line with that unnamed other party, and a qualifier would only draw unnecessary attention to that reality.

     My critique is more with his overly careful or halting delivery, where I sometimes think he is dictating to a stone-cutter.   In any event,  having, in effect, Todd Akin join the R&R ticket speaks for itself.


    Like others, I, too, wondered where (5.00 / 7) (#5)
    by Anne on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:47:13 PM EST
    this Obama was - the one who thinks it's wrong for  politicians, many of them men, to make health care decisions for women - when Bart Stupak was muddying the health care waters with his anti-woman amendment.  

    He didn't need to take up for Romney, either, or attempt to explain what Romney thinks about Akin's remarks; what he needed to do was draw a clear and unambiguous line between what the Akin/Ryan Republicans have said, and proposed and intend to push, and what he, as a Democrat, and what millions of other Democrats, have long believed and fought for: that women have the right to make their own choices about their reproductive health.

    I thought he might pull it off when he said that rape was rape and we don't need to be parsing it.  But then he had to wander off into the mushy middle and take some unnecessary high road.  I guess he can't help himself, but if ever there was one of those teachable moments he so loves, this was it.  It was a leadership moment, and he just let it pass by like he was watching a parade.

    "Rape is rape.  The House Science Committee needs to come into the 21st century and stop spreading false and misleading information about when and under what circumstances women can get pregnant, and using those specious theories to deny women dominion over their own bodies.  Todd Akin is the one on the hot seat, but as he, himself, has reminded us, Paul Ryan stands foursquare behind those same pseudoscientific theories.  Mitt Romney can condemn Todd Akin all he wants, but Romney chose Paul Ryan to run as his VP, and the rest of us will just have to put that into the context that makes the most sense to us.  I'm ashamed that in 2012, we have people in positions of power in this country who believe the kinds of things Todd Akin expressed the other day."

    Why can't he just say that?  

    Although (none / 0) (#8)
    by CoralGables on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:59:47 PM EST
    kdog tried to inject some humor and was lambasted for it earlier today, I can't let this opening go by...

    that was awfully long winded in saying Obama wasn't succinct.


    My issue wasn't so much that he wasn't (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Anne on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:11:37 PM EST
    succinct, but that the totality of his remarks needed to be built around one thing: that Akin is a throwback to the days when humans barely walked upright - and I think on that score, he failed.  One message, not a little something for everyone; he seems incapable of that.

    As for kdog, I don't know why he didn't see that land mine, and I know his intentions weren't to have his remarks blow up in his face, but it was just too soon for humor.


    Women, Not So Much (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by john horse on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:49:35 PM EST
    I think Akin represents a fundamental belief among some Republicans - corporations are
    people . . . women, not so much.

    I wish he would go beyond 'offensive' (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:45:45 PM EST
    and come right out and say Akin is just factually wrong to the point of insanity about what causes pregnancy. To me this is as much about the general GOP assault on science as it is abortion rights.

    "From what I understand from doctors..." (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by unitron on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 01:30:57 PM EST
    ... doctors who were practicing in the days when they used leeches and didn't know enough about germs to wash their hands or sterilize their instruments between surgical patients.

    Jeralyn (none / 0) (#7)
    by CoralGables on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:56:16 PM EST
    Minor detail, but I believe his name is Dave Catanese (not Cantanese). The Twitterverse has been spelling his name wrong for the last 24 hours.

    thanks, I'll fix it (none / 0) (#18)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:41:27 PM EST
    What did he say? (none / 0) (#11)
    by lentinel on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:54:13 PM EST

    He starts out OK.

    But he starts meandering almost immediately.
    "Forcible rape versus non-forcible rape".
    WTF is he talking about?
    "Non-forcible rape"?
    How can something that is done by force against the will of the victim be non-forcible?

    If he was just trying to put forth what he called, "broader issues", why couldn't he just say that there is no such thing as non-forcible rape.

    He also called Akin the "Senator from Missouri".
    He ain't the Senator.

    He is trying to cover all the bases all the time and it has blocked his brain. He can't even speak whole sentences without uhhs inserted to give him time to consider and edit and censor himself lest he say anything truly definitive.

    Yes, there is a category of rape (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Peter G on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:12:52 PM EST
    that is legally not "forcible rape."  It's called "statutory rape."  However, that legal vocabulary distinction has nothing whatever to do with the point that the forced-pregnancy crowd is trying to make. In fact, it's almost worse.  Are they saying that 14-year-old girls made pregnant by child abusers (often their step-father, or other partner of their mother) should be barred from getting abortions (because they are not victims of "forcible rape"), while grown women who did not consent to sex that made them pregnant should be eligible? Since that's obviously not what they mean, they are clearly using the term some other way ... presumably to demonize women who, in the anti-choicers' minds, are deemed responsible for being raped because they are morally "loose" in some way.

    It's that not-so-underlying message that (5.00 / 5) (#15)
    by Anne on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:23:03 PM EST
    maybe on some level, the woman who gets pregnant as a result of a rape wanted to be taken by force, else her body would have protected her better, that maybe on some level, she was asking for it.

    And then there's the all-too-prevalent belief that women are meant to submit to men, that it's our duty and their right.

    I don't know why it's so hard to deliver a clear message that the garbage Todd Akin spewed is an embarrassment to women, to all the men who know better and to this country, which, sadly, still seems determined to keep one foot in the Dark Ages by putting people like Akin in positions of power.


    cut the ad hominems (none / 0) (#16)
    by diogenes on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:31:11 PM EST
    Maybe the prolifers feel just as sincerely that the fetus is a life that should be protected as many people believe that convicted mass murderers have lives that should be protected from the death penalty.  At least the Catholic Church is consistent on both.

    The same Catholic church (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by shoephone on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:03:33 PM EST
    that has protected child rapists, aka priests, for decades? Right-o.

    Apples - oranges (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:41:26 AM EST
    The Catholic Church's dogma - its core beliefs - are absolutely consistent between abortion and the death penalty.

    The covering up of child predators / denying communion is about the Church administration, not its teachings.


    Too bad certain SCOTUSi catholics (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by DFLer on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:16:38 AM EST
    embrace one dogma, but not the other...ei Scalia

    That is true (none / 0) (#29)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:18:24 AM EST
    "Picking and choosing" - the American way.

    I thought we were talking about (none / 0) (#34)
    by DFLer on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 06:32:13 PM EST
    the Catholic way

    No, the Catholic Church is not consistent (5.00 / 5) (#20)
    by Peter G on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 11:06:18 PM EST
    You don't see Bishops threatening to deny communion to Catholic politicians who support capital punishment. Nor does rejecting on moral grounds the death penalty for a convicted murderer require that we impose on the bodily integrity or personal autonomy -- much less that we threaten the health -- of anyone.

    I should note expressly that in responding (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Peter G on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:30:19 AM EST
    on this point @#20, I focused only on the public and private morality questions.  There is also a major difference between the abortion question and the death penalty question insofar as each implicates public policy in the context of constitutional law.  Capital punishment is governmental action, and can be implemented (if at all) only in compliance with the due process and cruel-and-unusual-punishment clauses of the Constitution, which restrict when the state can take a "life" and how it can "punish" someone for committing a crime.  The decision to have an abortion is an instance of private action, in which the state is not taking a life, no matter how you define that concept, and the state is not imposing punishment.  The only state action implicated in an abortion decision comes into play when the state regulates or restricts the pregnant woman's opportunity to implement her own decision, thus depriving her of "liberty."  The Catholic Church (or any other religious body) thus acts "consistently" (or not) with respect to these two issues to the extent that it seeks equally to have the state impose the Church's religious views through legislation.  (Something which the Church, like any religious body in America, has every right to do through our political process.)  Again, I do not see the Catholic church working as hard to have capital punishment abolished in those states that still have it, as it does to have abortion opportunities restricted by law in every possible way.

    it is not, however, a human being. (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by cpinva on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:43:12 AM EST
    Maybe the prolifers feel just as sincerely that the fetus is a life that should be protected

    and never has been considered so, even in the old testament. in fact, the catholic church's anti-choice stance is a relatively modern contrivance, only dating back to the latter part of the 19th century. prior to that, the church had little, if anything to say on the subject, officially anyway.

    the mainline protestant churches had even less to say about it. it mostly gained currency in the fundie churches (see: falwell, jerry), who's leadership saw the issue as a means of gaining both adherents and political influence. roe v wade didn't become a rallying cry for the anti-choice crowd until the 80's, ronald reagan time. not to be confused with miller time.

    mr. reagan saw the issue as a means of gaining support from a group that traditionally either abhored politics in general or, if they were political, tended towards the democrats. control over women's bodies thus became, not a health issue, but a political power issue. funny that men don't have to fight for the authority to control their own bodies, but the little ladies do. go figure.


    No one's advocating that those who (5.00 / 5) (#25)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:23:49 AM EST
    don't believe in abortion be forced to have one if they get pregnant; no one's denying any woman the right to get pregnant, stay pregnant and have a baby.

    But people like Todd Akin and Paul Ryan would happily deny all women the right to terminate a pregnancy by according "personhood" to a fertilized egg; they want their beliefs to have dominion over every woman.  

    And they're not above using junk science that originated in the Dark Ages to do it.  Or casting doubt on every woman who's gotten pregnant after being raped.  "Legitimate" rape?  "Forcible" rape?  What're the underlying questions - "are you sure you didn't really want it, little lady?"  "Are you sure you said no?"

    This is now and always has been about control for many of the anti-choice crowd: we women are supposed to be submissive, compliant and quiet.  The bible says so, and these mostly-men will happily quote appropriate passages to prove it.

    There are many people who sincerely believe that a fetus is innocent life that no woman has the right to end; to them I would just as sincerely suggest that, should they find themselves pregnant, they have every right to carry to term.

    Don't believe in abortion?  Don't have one.  But don't deign to tell me what I or any other woman can or should do for ourselves.  


    How about rape in which the alleged victim (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:38:24 PM EST
    is mentally incompetent to consent or under the influence of alcohol and or drugs?  

    PPP: Akin 44 McCaskill 43 (none / 0) (#21)
    by Dan the Man on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:05:38 AM EST
    Missouri voters strongly disagree with the comments Todd Akin made about abortion over the weekend, but it hasn't moved the numbers a whole lot in the Senate race. Akin leads Claire McCaskill by a single point, 44-43. That's basically identical to our last poll of the contest in late May, which found Akin ahead by a 45-44 spread.

    Akin is the Republicans' mistake (5.00 / 5) (#22)
    by Towanda on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:39:19 AM EST
    but, clearly, McCaskill is the Democrats' mistake in Missouri.  

    Not surprising, since she is not a Democratic moderate, really, according to friends there who have become disillusioned and say that they don't see her as any sort of a Democrat.  They say that she is just . . . mushy, indefinable.  And that is costing her, with lackluster reaction from Independents, apparently needed for a Dem to win.

    Maybe the Missouri Dems ought to have run her daughter, as at least she is decisive -- and persuasive.  Even as a teenager, her decision persuaded a U.S. Senator!


    McCaskill (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by CoralGables on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 03:03:26 AM EST
    is better liked in Missouri than Blunt or Akin. Blunt has an approval rating of 32, Akin is at 24, and McCaskill sits at 41 (Obama is currently at 45). Maybe Missouri just doesn't like anyone anymore.

    Conservative.org's rating of Senators on a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being given to Rand Paul, David Vitter, and Jim DeMint, gave McCaskill a zero last year. You may not like her but you're not going to get any other Dem elected in Missouri right now. And Independents aren't going to vote for Akin because McCaskill isn't liberal enough.

    McCaskill isn't a Democrats' mistake. She was a Dem victory. The Democrats' mistakes are a result of whining and complaining and not voting, and then winding up with the likes of Scott Walker and Rick Scott as Governors. We're not Big Tent Democrats. We're a bunch of Big Tent Whiners.


    Maybe (none / 0) (#27)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:47:03 AM EST
    Thw BTW's can get a ride on her plane!

    McCaskill did not have a majority (none / 0) (#31)
    by Towanda on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:12:44 PM EST
    to win before and needs a three-way race to win now.  That was a Dem stroke of good fortune, not a victory.  

    And by now, she ought to have improved her margin, rather than push an Akin on the populace in hope of looking not-as-bad-as-stoopid.  (Despite herself looking stoopid in the private-plane debacle.)

    As ever, the problem is not that Independents might vote for Akin.  It's that they might not be motivated to vote at all.