August 20, 2012

After all the gnashing of teeth and pearl-clutching last week by Chuck Todd and other White House reporters, President Obama joined today's press briefing to answer a couple of questions about Todd Akin's remarks yesterday.

He was asked whether he thought Rep. Akin's views represented the views of the Republican party in general. Here is his response:

Let me first of all say the views expressed were offensive. Rape is rape. 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.

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.

And though these particular comments have led Governor Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, 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...I think those are broader issues and I think that's a significant difference in approach between me and the other party.

But I don't think that they would agree with the Senator from Missouri in terms of his statement, which was way out there.

I might have a bone to pick with that last statement, since Paul Ryan and all the Republicans now backing away from Akin teamed up with him to redefine rape.

Also, if you don't read this entire piece over at The Nation by Ilyse Hogue tiny spiders will bite you. Not really, but it's the smartest analysis I've read yet.

While the political dynamics around these two issues are different, there are striking similarities in the right-wing strategy of capitalizing on extreme statements to shift the spectrum of what’s possible. And the wary will take heed: in the span of four short years, we went from having two presidential candidates who openly advocated action to stop climate change to having no GOP candidates in 2012 who could or would affirm its existence and a Democratic president who seems to wish the issue would magically disappear. The consequences of inaction are already being felt.

The same process is underway to undermine women’s voices in our own destiny. Mitt Romney has already flip-flopped from a pro-choice Senate candidate and a governor who promised to be “a good voice” among Republicans on reproductive health to his new incarnation as Paul Ryan’s running mate and an anti-choice leader. While Ryan allows lesser candidates like Akin to carry the water on extreme views held by the right-wing patriarchy, his equally radical views become mainstreamed as his anti-woman credentials are embraced by the party leadership. If we don’t stop laughing and start drawing hard lines around scientific reality, how many Akin’s will it take before we see a President Romney ordering rape victims thrown into the water to see if they float?

Read and heed.

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