Mitt Romney certain brings a lot of his own disadvantages to the party. He’s unlikeable, demonstrably avaricious, dishonest, and a political “Etch-a-Sketch”, and his track record is littered with juicy bits of ugly testimony to his cold and predatory character. He is so burdened, in fact, that it is only because he was the one candidate that the Plutocratic wing of his party—the gang that really calls the shots—had confidence would do their bidding that he survived the primary campaign.
Now, on the eve of the convention, he is still trying to solidify his base, doing so with the cowardly selection of Paul Ryan as a running mate.
The idea was to change the subject from Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns, with which he was being hammered flat, to Ryan’s radical proposal that the United States government cease to serve its people, but instead become a fully-functioning profit center for the very rich.
That isn’t the spin, of course, but for five minutes, anyway, the gambit worked and the subject was successfully changed. I have argued this is a temporary reprieve, but for a moment, Romney got to enjoy it. He and his new pal Gomer Pyle went to work on confusing the public about their position on Medicare, and it seemed like the road to the White House, though rough, might be navigable.
But what happens? Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin changes the subject again…to abortion. A divisive and polarizing topic on which the GOP takes a position decidedly out of step with the opinion of a majority of Americans.
To make matters worse, Akin does this with an outrageous claim certain to offend every last American voter who isn’t a right-wing nut: the claim that a “legitimately” raped woman can’t get pregnant.
These are the sorts of vile rationalizations that have circulated among anti-choice conservatives for years, but the wink-and-nudge rule is that you don’t articulate them in public. Having blurted what he and many anti-abortion zealots really think, though, Akin has spotlighted three issues: the GOP’s extremist opposition to choice even in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the health of the mother; the fact that Republicans are trying to assert distinctions over who has “really” been raped; and the sheer looniness of the current state of Republican scientific beliefs.
So now, Two-Faced Mitt is in the spotlight on abortion policy—the last place he wants to focus attention. He must somehow take a position on Akin’s obscene claim that will both keep happy the right-wingers he has only recently mollified, and leave him some chance of gaining the support of voters—particularly women—who are rightfully appalled by Akin’s inadvertent candor.
Today in the midst of this scheissesturm, the Republican Party approved a platform plank which supports banning abortion and makes no exceptions.
Front and center, Mitt.
It isn’t as though Republicans have many strategies that can win them this election. Blanketing the airwaves with falsehoods is about all they’ve got. But they need, at minimum, to make the debate about topics they can win on if they are successful in deceiving voters. Abortion is not such an issue, and it carries with it the association of the Christian right’s deep influence within the Republican Party…a fact with which the American electorate—especially independents—has become increasingly fed up.
Akin’s statement echoes far beyond Missouri; it brings back into high relief the barbarism of Republican policies regarding women’s health and rights. It is a major blow to Republican hopes to take the Senate this year, and will force GOP candidates in every contested seat to navigate the very minefield in which Romney now finds himself.
You could almost—almost—feel sorry for the guy.
At publication, the Dragon was: GIGGLING