After 'Legitimate Rape' Comment, Todd Akin Should Resign From Race

Akin's remarks represent a kind of thuggish, patriarchal thinking that is insulting to both men and women and damaging to the prolife cause.

By + More
Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., and his wife Lulli, talk with reporters while attending the Governor's Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo. Akin was keeping a low profile a day after a TV interview in which he said that women's bodies can prevent pregnancies in "a legitimate rape" and that conception is rare in such cases.

On Sunday morning U.S. Rep. Todd Akin gave an interview on Missouri television in which he opined that victims of "legitimate rape" need not worry about conceiving a child as the result of being assaulted.

By Monday afternoon just about the only people left in Missouri who wanted Akin to stay in the race were the incumbent—Democrat Claire McCaskill—and her strongest supporters. Akin himself seems to be of two minds. According to some, Akin's still "in it to win it." According to others, he's set to announce he's dropping out at 5 pm Tuesday.

Hopefully, it's the latter leak that's correct.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

It's not just that Akin staying in the race means the GOP will likely lose a seat they have long been projected to win, McCaskill being one of the two incumbent Democrats in the Senate considered most in danger or losing their 2012 re-election bids. It's that Akin's remarks represent a kind of thuggish, patriarchal thinking that is insulting to both men and women and damaging to the prolife cause.

Elections are won and movements are built according to mathematical principles. You succeed through addition and multiplication. You lose because all you have to offer are subtraction and division. If the challenge is to persuade people who may not agree with you or who are genuinely on the fence about a particular issue the last thing you want to do is be dismissive of their concerns. You don't have to agree with them. You do have to show respect for their views.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Should Todd Akin Drop Out of His Race After 'Legitimate Rape' Remarks?]

Akin's gaffe, if that's what it was, gives the prolife movement "a black eye" they don't deserve. Those who are committed to defending the rights and lives of the unborn are certainly passionate—but they are also largely deeply empathetic, compassionate people—despite what some may say about them. Absent the few "whack-a-doodles" and other outliers who cause problems for everybody, the majority of prolifers typically treat others with respect and dignity and deserve to be treated better themselves.

So, out of respect for women and out of respect for the prolife cause he clearly embraces, Akin should drop out of the race now—and leave the job of finding a replacement candidate to others. In the short term, the less America hears from him, the better it will be for the causes he supports.

  • Read Susan Milligan: The Real Issue in Todd Akin's Abortion Comments
  • Follow the Thomas Jefferson Street blog on Twitter at @TJSBlog.
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.