Tag Archives: Todd Akin

“Akin” for Understanding

 

Photo appears courtesy of Wikimedia commons

For a little over a month I have avoided writing anything too in depth about the wild and crazy world of partisan politics.  I see no need to assist either of the presidential candidates with the slinging of their mud. I don’t want to react to the newest soundbites or quotes from speeches designed to influence my opinion. I find the campaign stops and bus tours ludicrous. I have trouble believing that one millionaire truly understands me better than the other millionaire.

I could go into a few things that have moved me over the last month. Romney’s senseless comments at the Olympics, or Obama’s complete misunderstanding of small business and entrepreneurs. I could lambaste the president for saying he does not need to prove anything while arguing that Romney should have to prove…see how easy it is to fall into the trap?

There is no better way to understand our partisan bickering than the view of a complete political meltdown.  Over the weekend we were offered a perfect example of a politician making cringe worthy remarks and the media running with them. When Todd Akin went on a St Louis morning show to talk about his race for the U.S. Senate, who knew the six time congressman from Missouri would coin a new phrase and draw up battle lines all across the country.  The foolishly uninformed statements made by Mr Akin can be viewed here.

Akin for a clue Photo appears courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Two things happened very quickly following the “legitimate rape” fiasco. First Democrats tried desperately to tie these comments to the general belief of any pro-life politician. This opportunistic approach is exactly the kind of thing that makes me despise election year news coverage.  Second, anyone with a reputation to protect ran screaming from Todd Akin and were quick to point out his views were strictly his own and not the views of… well… anyone who has ever taken an eighth grade health class.

What amazes me is that people have come to Akin’s defense. Explaining that he misspoke…I see when he said that a woman’s body has ways of  “shutting that whole thing down” what he meant to say was “Rape is a deplorable thing and no one can question the choices someone makes after a traumatic experience like that.”

The current division in our society has left us in an odd place. We feel compelled to defend anyone who shares our beliefs regardless of how indefensible their actions may be. We also find ourselves too quick to assume that the thoughts and opinions of a whole group of people who disagree with us can be summed up by the raving of one mad man. (Joe Biden speaks for all Democrats, right?)

 

I long to view national politics the same way we do on the local stage. Outrageous claims are seldom made in attack ads on the local level, because you have to see that person and their family afterward. The expectations are higher with lower offices, sources must be named and comments explained. On the local stage Blind Faith is just a super group featuring Eric Clapton, not something we grant the members of our party– simply because they are members of our party.

In my next piece I will probably return to slamming the current administration, but for now let me appeal to you as a person. We have to be the difference! The standards we have for those meant to represent our beliefs and positions should be twice as stringent as those we place on others. We are judged by the company we keep both personally and politically.

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Non-Stop Gaffe Riot

Presidential politics.

It’s about as close as you can get to A Game Of Thrones in America. Tricks. Political feints. Lies. These elections bring out all of it. While the stuff that gets play on the television is already enough to make us long for an emperor, the truly wicked remains largely unknown. Yes, now and then there are twitter scandals, but most of the nasty stays out of the public eye.

So when I heard one Todd Akin let slip his actual feelings about rape and it’s impact on the abortion issue I had the same reaction everyone else had.

We can make a handfull of these but we can’t figure out a simpler tax code?

Really? Really? What does legitimate rape mean?

And then I promptly went back to my day. I mean who has time for this when there are way more important things. For starters, have you ever seen an aircraft carrier? It’s like a million tons of metal, sits about 80% out of the water, and carries billions of dollars in military aircraft? HOW DOES IT FLOAT?!?!?! I mean, yeah, I get the theoretical mechanics, but that’s probably just scientific flim flam.

Anyway, I thought Akin would quit, but he’s decided to double down and make the race about abortion. Truly this will be a most entertaining election, but I don’t vote in Missouri, so what I think about the matter doesn’t carry much weight and I can’t do worse than the court of public opinion. So instead I started thinking about gaffes and how truly petty they are. All of them.

Remember when Barack Obama said small business owners don’t earn their money?

How about when Mitt Romney said corporations are people?

Didn’t Joe Biden say something about chains last week?

All of these comments became 10 second sound bites for the talking heads to analyze. Politicians blather on and on about all kinds of stuff, but the pundits like to pick the most incendiary (and often least important) parts to explain to us. While I always appreciate being told how I should feel about something I can clearly hear myself, I’m at the point where I mistrust all television news.

All these comments are taken out of context. Most “gaffes” are. Many of them, like Mr. Akin’s, seem awful in their full context. Others are more… complicated. Not that it matters because we’re trained to pass up the entire message in exchange for our own visceral reaction.

Obviously I’m not talking about the well-read politicos that argue the finer points of international policy or even those folks that read THE ENTIRE ARTICLE of more than one site when learning about an issue. This is reserved for the “heard it in the background while watching FOX/MSNBC and cleaning my gun/vegetable garden” crowd.

Am I defending Mr. Akin? Absolutely not. Any way you slice that statement, he either said some rape isn’t actually rape or he implied women lie about rape at least some of the time. And the stuff about women’s bodies doing whatever he thought they did to stop unwanted pregnancy was bananas.

No, I’m saying that the reason we have so many gaffes, so often, is because people are fallible, cameras are everywhere and the internet makes sure that all secrets are just funny things waiting to be discovered.

Imagine, if you will, that you have one 3×5 notecard to relay to the world the most important thing you’ve ever had to say. You’ve been given a single black sharpie and been informed that you have 10 minutes to write it and whatever is on the card is what everyone in the world will find out about.

That’s about the size of public speaking in politics. Whatever you say, whether you accidentally cough mid-sentence or have low blood sugar, is what the people will hear.

When I consider how often I misspeak or even incorrectly fill out paperwork I’m not so surprised that candidates actually say the wrong thing from time to time. Now throw in the pressure of party leadership, media demagogues, and a news cycle that sways from side to side like a WVU student.

No soundbite, no matter how damning, can tell you everything about a candidate or his position. Odds are the politician is more nuanced than whatever 20 words were picked up by the media machine.

So I guess what I’m saying is make sure you look into that condemning quote before you make your judgement… or just ignore it altogether and pay attention to something that’s actually important.

For instance, can anyone tell me why this is happening? I’ve brought it up before, but can someone actually explain to me how this headline is possible? If the GOP figures it out there will be a titanic shift in politics. And if you didn’t feel like clicking on the linky-link I’ve posted the funniest thing I’ve seen today below.

Tagged , , , , , ,