As the GOP continues to fail miserably at reaching out to women (or anyone else who is not an old white man), Todd Akin continues to helpfully make the rounds talking about “legitimate rape,” as he did in an interview on MSNBC Thursday morning. In case you missed it, then-Congressman Akin (R-Mo.), in 2012, told an interviewer that pregnancy resulting from rape is “really rare” because, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
The clip touched off a firestorm of media attention, and quickly became shorthand for the Republican Party’s miserable failure at closing the electoral gender gap although it was followed by many, many, many similar comments by other Republicans, and a policy slate to match.
Now, Akin is all over the place promoting his new book, in which he apologizes for ever apologizing about those remarks. Thursday morning, he ran into an iceberg named Chuck Todd, who blocked Akin’s attempts to move off of the subject like Tim Howard on a coke bender.
First, Akin explained that “legitimate rape” is an “abbreviation” of the “law enforcement term ‘legitimate case of rape,'” and asked Todd, “Do you know anybody that thinks rape is legitimate? That doesn’t even make sense.”
See, Akin either believes, or is trying to get people to believe, that his remarks were interpreted to mean that rape is a legitimate form of, I don’t quite know, expression, maybe?
A perplexed Todd asked Akin to elaborate, at which point he continued to talk about how you have to weed out all the fakey-fakey rapes from the real ones with police work, then added a weird conspiratorial wrinkle. “The thing that strikes me as odd is this is something that was intentionally misunderstood and twisted for political purposes,” Akin said, then went on to point out that “right after that Sunday interview, Monday morning, very odd timing, Obama walks into a press conference, which he never does, and takes a question about Todd Akin.”
Akin then tried to shift focus to the current smear against Hillary Clinton for daring to do her job as a defense attorney, but Todd was having none of that business.
“This is still about you, this is still about you classifying rape in this odd way,” Todd said. “I guess let me go back and ask you this. Should abortion be legal for somebody who has been raped?”
The short answer is no, but Akin also pointed to “people on my campaign that were children that had grown up, that had been conceived in rape,” which Todd quickly pointed out “undermines your argument that somehow the woman’s body shuts down.”
Akin tried to revise his statement downward as a statistical observaton about the effects of “stress” on a pregnancy, but again, Todd was there for the block, reading Akin the exact quote, and getting all sciencey on him.
In the end, Todd did get Akin to concede that, in the case of a tubal pregnancy, it might be all right for a woman to decide not to die for a medical futility.
Although Chuck Todd did a pretty good job of throwing facts at Akin, it’s also important to get the facts about Akin’s implication that there is widespread misreporting of rape, because the opposite is true. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), less than half of all rapes are reported, while only 12% of rapes result in an arrest, 5% in felony convictions, and 3% in jail time. 54% of rapes are not reported, while according to the FBI, only 8% of rape cases are classified as “unfounded,” a definition that, in true circular fashion, relies on sick, Akin-ian logic:
This statistic is almost meaningless, as many of the jurisdictions from which the FBI collects data on crime use different definitions of, or criteria for, “unfounded.” That is, a report of rape might be classified as unfounded (rather than as forcible rape) if the alleged victim did not try to fight off the suspect, if the alleged perpetrator did not use physical force or a weapon of some sort, if the alleged victim did not sustain any physical injuries, or if the alleged victim and the accused had a prior sexual relationship. Similarly, a report might be deemed unfounded if there is no physical evidence or too many inconsistencies between the accuser’s statement and what evidence does exist. As such, although some unfounded cases of rape may be false or fabricated, not all unfounded cases are false.
Akin’s renewed presence in the public eye is a thorn in the side of Republicans, who are trying to paint him as an outlier, but Akin’s beliefs are still expressed in the Party’s official platform, and in legislation supported by its last vice presidential nominee. The only difference is, Akin says it out loud, while the rest of them tell each other to change the subject.