So, by now the Todd Akin bit is old news.
The rehash is hardly necessary, but here it is: Akin's running for the senate. It turns out he thought that in cases of 'legitimate rape', women's bodies tend to activate some kind of biological self-defense mechanism that drastically reduces the odds of a pregnancy. Of course, there's really no mainstream science supporting this. The media pounces on it, overnight Akin's candidacy is ruled a complete disaster, and the calls come in - including from the GOP - that this guy must resign. For the good of the party, he must resign. For the sake of retaking the Senate, he must resign.
And my thoughts at the time were: yeah, this guy must resign. Replace him with anyone else. Not for the good of the party (screw the GOP), but at least for the lesser goal of reining in the exceptionally bad and increasingly hostile acts of the Democrats. I wasn't screaming that this guy was a complete moron, but I damn sure thought that he had a duty to resign based on what he said. It was too big of a gaffe, too blatant, too much of an uproar caused. In fact I even rolled over onto Ilion's blog (we don't get along) to call him out on what I thought was a pretty bad defense of Akin. I stand by the argument that what Akin said was stupid, certainly for someone in his position.
But I don't think I can stand by my previous view that the guy had a duty to resign. I erred on that front. He said something stupid, he should have known better, but what really should have happened is I - and anyone else who really is concerned about fighting a cultural war - should have stood up for him. I should have said, he said something stupid - and so fucking what? He apologized, his lesson is learned, and it's not nearly a resignation-worthy offense. Why in the world am I acting otherwise?
Well, because I'm being told - there's that constant political drumbeat - that this is a disaster, that the seat is lost, that the GOP was on track to take the senate until this happened, that the only way to take the senate away from the Democrats is to make Akin fall on his sword, and he's NOT falling on his sword, so damnit, he can go to hell, the traitor. Of course, was this really the drumbeat from conservatives? From many voices, sure. Many otherwise typical conservative voices. And also, moderate voices. And liberal voices.
Now, in retrospect, I find myself wondering about that. And I inch towards the conclusion that I've been suckered.
What did Akin do that was so terrible? Again, he said something stupid - and, upon finding he was wrong, he apologized. We're in the thick of campaign season, with plenty of politicians getting things just plain wrong. Demonstrably wrong. Wrong and they don't even apologize. Yet the calls for resignation don't show up. Now, someone can make the argument that Akin's gaffe is particularly foul - it's a double-shot of "biology ignorance" and a charge of "implying that sometimes rape is wrongly claimed". (The second one requires seriously suspect parsing of his words to at all rise to the level of offense.)
I'm still considering this whole affair, trying to figure it out. There's a problem here, but I haven't got it totally in my sights yet. Maybe it's that the reaction to Akin's stupid comment was ridiculously out of proportion. Maybe it's that the reaction had the out of proportion effect it did not just on people in general, but on me - and I'm normally pretty good about plodding along with this crap and not getting taken so easily. I'll think about it.
But since (even though I didn't get into it on this blog) I recall being on board with the 'Akin should resign' gang, and now I find myself wondering if I was right - I have to pull back and say to the guy, good luck with his campaign. Maybe I'll figure out just what went wrong here sometime.