New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd weighed in on the furor that erupted over Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s awful rape comments on Tuesday. In her opinion piece in the Times, “Just Think No,” Dowd hoists herself onto the highest of horses to denounce Akin, the Republican party and their 2012 presidential ticket in most self-satisfied tone she could muster. Included in her fevered denunciation of the GOP is the hyperbolic and lamentable decision to link the Republican’s vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), to the Taliban.
In Dowd’s column, she adopts the preferred view of Chicago’s campaign messaging gurus, saying Akin’s comments reveal a window into the Republican soul. For Dowd, Romney, Ryan and Akin – and the party they support – are a simply giving voice to their “Taliban creed.”
Paul Ryan, who teamed up with Akin in the House to sponsor harsh anti-abortion bills, may look young and hip and new generation, with his iPod full of heavy metal jams and his cute kids. But he’s just a fresh face on a Taliban creed — the evermore antediluvian, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-gay conservative core. Amiable in khakis and polo shirts, Ryan is the perfect modern leader to rally medieval Republicans who believe that Adam and Eve cavorted with dinosaurs.
Dowd rages against what she envisions as the entire Republican party’s mistrust of modernity with a healthy measure of antipathy.
For Dowd, and most of the liberal commentariat as well as the Democratic party’s operatives, Akin’s comments present an opening to cleave the nation’s electorate away from the Republican party. Towards that end, they have pounced on Akin’s deeply troubling “legitimate rape” assertion as evidence of the secret ambitions of the entire party.
Indeed, they point to the party’s governing platform, which adopts a hardline stance on issues like the repeal of Roe v. Wade and immigration reform, as an indication that the GOP has inadvertently shown their hateful cards. It lends credence to progressives’ attempts to tar the party as being out of step with the electorate on every issue save the economy, which has been and remains is a net negative for the Democratic party and their party’s leader.
For Dowd and others like here, there is no need to note that the past three Republican presidential nominees, including the present one, have differed with the party’s platform committee on these issues. Furthermore, the fact that nearly every conservative pundit or politician holding an office higher than comptroller has come out to demand that Akin drop out of the race also does not merit any mention. They might say that conservative denunciations of Akin are merely an electoral consideration given that the Missouri Senate candidate’s comments imperil a winnable Senate seat.
But was it not just two weeks ago that progressives claimed that Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan to join him on the ticket indicated that the former Massachusetts governor was a slave to the right-wing of his party? To Democrats, the pick proved that the right-of-center grassroots controls the GOP’s highest elected officials and the pick of Ryan showed that Romney would capitulate to the will of the Tea Party at every turn.
But Akin’s comments were met with revulsion from conservatives across the country – from pundits like Charles Krauthammer to Ann Coulter and politicians like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and, yes, Romney and Ryan. When Akin refused to drop out, he inspired some of the most fervent attacks in recent memory on his character and career from influential members of his own party.
Why is this measure of independence by the party’s brass from the GOP’s evangelical wing worthy of derision and dismissal from progressives? Well, just maybe that is a cynical maneuver itself. Call me a skeptic, but could it be that Democrats desire to paint all conservatives with Akin’s unpopular comments is the result of a political calculation?
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama took to the trial to reinvigorate charges that Akin – and his party – are deeply out of touch. For the second time in one week, the President of the United States sought to link Akin’s ill-informed views to those of the GOP saying those comments are “representative of a desire to go backwards instead of forwards. And fights that we thought were settled 20, 30 years ago.”
For Democrats, linking Akin’s comments to the entire Republican party is a display of principle over politics, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. It would seem that the near universal denunciation of these comments are worthy of at least passing mention but, like I said, I’m a cynic.
Full Dowd column available here
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org