A reporter asked me recently about the importance of convention platforms, and I said I couldn’t remember a convention platform that had any real impact on the outcome of an election. Well, thanks to Missouri Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin, this year’s party platform will likely get a lot more attention than it otherwise would have and could have real impact on the outcome of the election.
The Akin fiasco could not have been more poorly timed for Republicans.
At exactly the time voters are looking seriously at the Republican ticket, and the ticket wants to send a message of tolerance, diversity, and inclusion, Akin says: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Boom. Akin’s stunning ignorance is the political equivalent of the GOP riding over an IED. And the shrapnel is shredding everyone.
So now we can expect days of discussion about Republicans and abortion, and a heightened focus on the platform language that was drafted Monday: “Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” That means no exceptions. Not rape. Not incest. Not the life of the mother.
The head of the platform committee is Gov. Bob McDonnell, who attracted national attention when the Virginia legislature considered legislation making ultrasounds mandatory for any woman seeking an abortion.
It won’t matter much that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are saying now they would not oppose a rape exception. Unlike John McCain, who had a history of pushing for an explicit exemption in the language, Romney and Ryan have records that will send a chill up the spine of most women. Romney said in 2007 he would be “delighted” to sign a bill banning all abortions, and Ryan supported legislation restricting abortions to victims of “forcible rape.”
So thank you, Todd Akin. Just as Republicans were opening their show and hoping to widen the tent, you’ve managed to attract attention to yourself and your caveman views.
Hear that sound, GOP? That’s women running for the exits—and the big tent collapsing.