Adult Supervision in #MOSEN

Todd Akin Must Go

UPDATE: Will he? Won’t he? Who knows, but here’s where I was at 10 minutes ago…

If I were advising Todd Akin, I’d say two words: “Get out.”

There are two activities where stupidity is punished by brutal, Darwinian action: aviation and politics. It’s not that they’re hard, just very unforgiving. Todd Akin just flew his campaign into the ground. I let it play out for 24 hours, but I’m done. I can forgive a lot, but this is a gaffe too far.

He should be replaced. Today.

It’s legal. It’s not difficult. It’s smart politics. It will help secure the Senate and confound the media narrative central to Obama and the DNC’s wider aspirations.

I’ll save the litigation over abortion for another day, but Akin’s statement (“legitimate rape” will set the pro-life movement back years if this plays out) was so egregiously stupid – and its aftermath so poorly handled – that it betrays a man unprepared for this contest, unable to think on his feet and unwilling to focus relentlessly on a path to victory.

In the era of the Twitter and Google Panopticon, Akin’s mistake was amplified instantly, and the Obama campaign and every floundering Democrat grabbed it like a lifeline. Barack Obama took to the press room moments ago to hang Akin’s stupidity around Mitt Romney’s neck.

Which is why he has to go.

You rarely see a clearer example that there is still a role – both political and legal – for state parties to play, even in the Tea Party era.

Good ones know when it’s time to take a lame horse out back and put a bullet in. They know when to exercise adult supervision. Today is the day the Missouri GOP, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the SuperPAC community should tell Todd Akin that it’s over. Crossroads and Senator Cornyn already sent a shot across his bow as I was writing this, which is a good, and necessary signal.

Some of you will object. You’ll say we’re throwing a conservative under the bus. You’re mistaken: Todd Akin failed to prepare and his team failed to manage him. Todd Akin got the bus schedule, laid down in front of it and let himself be crushed, and whatever clown college produced his consultants should be ashamed.

You’ll argue Akin won the primary. He did, with Claire McCaskill’s abundant financial help. I admire her political chops: she spotted the Akin time bomb, and paid for his win. She’s probably disappointed he didn’t wait longer to blow himself up, but he has, and it’s time for him to go. Her smug, sanctimonious performances on television today were telling, and you could see she was a woman who had found a lifeboat after the ship went down.

If Akin goes, Claire McCaskill is entirely beatable. Missouri is trending away from Obama, and Claire’s numbers have been bleeding out over the past year. A massive outside investment has taken a toll on her, and if you take away the Akin bump and she has nothing, either politically or financially to fall back on: the decline in her numbers was, until this weapons-grade stupidity – inexorable.

When yesterday’s Todd Akin gaffe accelerated into an incandescent Twitter fury, I was disappointed at the reflexive, frankly silly response from some on the right. It was an illustration that the energy and vigor of grassroots conservatism still needs some tempering. Mostly, it took the form of, “But liberals ignored rapes at Occupy Wall Street” or “Celebrity X said something stupid about rape, so it’s just as bad.”

God love you, but that stuff won’t win a Senate seat.

You want to wage a Breitbartian always-on war on the left? I’m all for it. You want to teach a lesson in media hypocrisy or double standards or political correctness? Go for it. You want to try to shock the national media into a sudden revelation of how in the tank they are? Sure, have at it. Those activities are necessary, but not sufficient in politics. I’ve been a made guy in the VWRC since a lot of you were in high school, and it’s important to know the difference between what you want, and what you must do.

Fight those good fights, but recognize objective reality when it’s slapping you in the face: Todd Akin is a bad – and badly managed – candidate who has damaged his chances. Didn’t we learn in 2010 that candidate quality is decisive? Perhaps Senators O’Donnell and Angle will refresh your memories. Oh…wait.

This is simple, operational, victory-centric politics. Do you want to win this seat or not? Do you want to have this as a distraction in the national campaign, or not? Do you want to give the Obama team one more scare tactic for suburban women voters, or not?

I’m sure the chest-thumping will feel great when we’re a vote short of repealing Obamacare. Or a vote short of getting a conservative justice on the Supreme Court. Or a vote short of (God forbid) blocking a liberal Obama justice on the Supreme Court. I’m sure we’ll love having Harry Reid as Majority Leader again. I’m sure we’ll be so proud you stayed pure when we have to slog out millions more in TV ads in Missouri to defend this clown show when we could be winning elsewhere.

If we replace Akin, we take this Senate seat. Call me a cynical consultant-class RINO. Call me morally ambiguous. Call me a bastard.  Just take action and do the smart thing. If I’m wrong, it won’t be the first time a U.S. Senator was pissed at me.

Todd Akin must go. It should be done today.

Disclosure note: I don’t have a dog in this fight. I know, and am friendly with Sarah Steelman, but did not play a role in her campaign nor did I communicate with her before writing this piece.

  1. slublog

    Akin’s answer to the question exposed him as an unprepared candidate.  His actions since then have shown that he’s also unable to handle pressure.  That’s not a good combination.

  2. Aaron Miller

    I’m completely boggled by this controversy. The man is being crucified for a single sentence which suggests neither poor character nor bad policy. 

    I can’t help but wonder how small the political hit would be if Republicans didn’t immediately pile on with Democrats.

  3. GypsyNuke

    Without excusing Akin’s statement, this is the classic double standard.  Recall how Trent Lott was driven out of the US Senate for saying “nice” things that were perceived as racist at Strom Thurmond’s 100th Birthday Party.  But Robert Byrd, former “Exalted Cyclops” or the Ku Klux Klan, remained.

    You simply have to be better to be a Republican in these political times.  Had Akin remained in the race, McCaskill would have won easily.  We may have a chance if a recognized and talented candidate can be quickly named.

  4. Leigh
    Aaron Miller: I’m completely boggled by this controversy. The man is being crucified for a single sentence which suggests neither poor character nor bad policy. 

    I can’t help but wonder how small the political hit would be if Republicans didn’t immediately pile on with Democrats. · 22 minutes ago

    It displayed absolutely horrible judgment, and from the comments from those who know him better, it’s a pattern.  That matters, too.  And his candidacy is now harmful to the cause he claims to support.

    I completely agree it’s a double standard.  A Democrat would have gotten away with it.  That doesn’t make it right.

    I’m completely in favor of everyone from Bush to McConnell to Romney to Sarah Palin to the Missouri GOP using all the arm-twisting they can think of.  The repeal of Obamacare may be on the line.  I think the Tea Party and the Establishment and everyone else can make common cause on this one.

    Oh, and if he does withdraw, point out McCaskill’s meddling on his behalf and rub it in her face.

  5. Leigh

    After reading the Drudge link, I’m suspicious — it sounds like little more than a rumor.  Hope not.

  6. Jonathan Matthew Gilbert

    Where are we getting that he’s withdrawing? Fox says he’s “resisting mounting calls” to withdraw. I’m assuming by tomorrow, he’ll be out, but for the moment he seems to be holding firm…

  7. Rick Wilson

    I’m not excusing the Democrats for misbehavior, or for their own mistakes, but I’m focused on the basic, mechanical problem of winning the U.S. Senate right now.  We do have to set, and hold, a higher standard.  It’s a tough row to hoe, but entirely possible.

  8. Chris Johnson

    I’m inclined to agree with Rick.  I just listened to a rather poor self-defense by the candidate on Hannity’s radio show.  He’s just not ready for prime time.

    I would offer this quibble, though, by adding one pertinent word/phrase to your text:  “There are two activities where stupidity is punished by brutal, Darwinian action: aviation and GOP politics.”  I think we can all agree that any Democrat could get past this sort of thing.

    Meanwhile, the person I just listened to on the radio will likely lose.  This was just his glaring moment, but he was going to be a difficult candidate to support/defend, down the road, anyway.  He has no self awareness and can’t seem to get that he just threw it all away by responding to a gotcha question that was irrelevant to his campaign.  He should have deflected the question and insisted upon staying on message, but perhaps his ego got the best of him.  Or something.  We need that seat, so I hope the MO GOP can do something.

  9. FightinInPhilly

    I like the aviation example. Here’s one more: Tom Brady/Aaron Rogers/Joe Montana/ with a broken ankle is no longer Tom Brady/Aaron Rogers/Joe Montana. In an instant (one sentence! one hit!) they simply cease to be the asset to their team they once were. Take a seat.

  10. ljt

    I agree. Any pol who can walk into the abortion minefield and set them ALL off – should be out anyway.

    But can someone explain what the author meant by “He did, with Claire McCaskill’s abundant financial help.”. Assuming she didn’t directly contribute? Did she pay for attack ads against (only) his opponents?  I don’t get it.

    PS and I think he should go for the “body shuts down” stuff – which doesn’t seem to have any basis in science rather than the “legitimate” (by which I assume he means “not false claim”? )

    I (conservative woman) can deal with the mysogynist accusation – hey its lost all its bite now… but am getting more and more fed up with the “anti-science” attacks.

  11. DocJay

    I agree Rick.  

    Rick Wilson: I’m not excusing the Democrats for misbehavior, or for their own mistakes, but I’m focused on the basic, mechanical problem of winning the U.S. Senate right now.  We do have to set, and hold, a higher standard.  It’s a tough row to hoe, but entirely possible. · 7 minutes ago

  12. Leigh
    ljt: I agree. Any pol who can walk into the abortion minefield and set them ALL off – should be out anyway.

    But can someone explain what the author meant by “He did, with Claire McCaskill’s abundant financial help.”. Assuming she didn’t directly contribute? Did she pay for attack ads against (only) his opponents?  I don’t get it. · 1 minute ago

    I think she actually paid for ads praising him as the most conservative in the race.  So — that would actually be a pretty direct financial contribution.

    Also, apparently there are reports of Democrat cross-over votes (Side-note: closed primaries, yesterday, please!)

    I’m not in Missouri, but I’d say that would be enough to help give the Missouri GOP cover if they did force the guy off the ballot.  Helps a lot with dumping primary voters’ choice if there’s evidence of Democratic meddling skewing the result.

  13. Rick Wilson

    Claire McCaskill/Dems (and allied SuperPACs) spent $1.5 million +/- in the GOP primary, boosting Akin’s name ID, framing him as the most conservative candidate in the race.  It’s a sharp little trick, and it lets one pick the opponent perceived as the weakest horse for the general election. (Used it myself, a time or two, in the other direction.) 

    Some good coverage of it is here.

  14. Leigh

    Tea Party Express (h/t HotAir):

    “One of the lessons we learned in 2010 is that we need candidates who are not only conservative, but are capable of putting together a strong campaign against liberal opponents,” Amy Kremer, the group’s chairwoman, said in a statement. Kremer followed Connie Mack’s lead in comparing Akin’s comments to ones made by Vice President Joe Biden last week: “Akin’s frequent ‘Bidenisms’ are distracting from the important issues at hand.”

    I love that: his “Bidenisms.”

    The difference between Republicans and Democrats: we denounce our Bidens, they make theirs Vice President!

  15. Stuart Creque

    It’s likely that he will withdraw, simply because of the overwhelming pressure within his party.  I expect some folks are explaining to him that withdrawing now means he can rehabilitate his political career later, but that refusing to withdraw now means that many Republicans across the nation will blame him for tainting their contests.

    What he said made no sense whatsoever.  If you want to express opposition to abortion in cases of rape, you might more usefully observe that the US Supreme Court has it backwards: it bans the death penalty for rapists but permits it for the offspring of the rapists’ victims.

  16. John Hanson

      I liver in NJ, and when DEMS replaced Torricelli, it was past the legal deadline allowing them to do it, but they did it anyway illegaly, and since at the time NJ was controlled by DEMS, they got away with it.  Here if he resigns before tomorrow night, I understand it is still legal to replace him.  Lets hope he “sees the light” and withdraws.

  17. Indaba

    Agreed. 

    This is an argument that is not to be won in a few public discussions. 

  18. Aaron Miller

    A high standard is fine, but no candidate is going to be gaffe-free. This was not something that training would have prevented. If we want candidates who speak from belief, rather than just parrot talking points, then that spontaneity makes gaffes inevitable. Training can make them rare, but this is a single word (“legitimate”) Akin is being criticized for.

    If this comment was part of a pattern of dramatic missteps, then that’s certainly reason for concern. But this firestorm has arisen around one gaffe. It’s disturbing that a single gaffe can overshadow everything else.

    There was plenty of time before Akin won the primary to attack him for being gaffe-prone. The voters preferred him over the other candidates! If Republican funding is going to be withheld from Akin over this and Akin decides to drop out of the race, then Republicans owe the voters another primary election. The majority of voters chose Akin, and their input should not be swept aside.

  19. Nick Stuart
    Songwriter: You make a good point. So – how would it be done? What would be the legal way to proceed? And who would do it? Honest questions. I’m curious. · 3 hours ago

    Defenestration.

  20. She
    CJRun: I’m inclined to agree with Rick.  I just listened to a rather poor self-defense by the candidate on Hannity’s radio show.  He’s just not ready for prime time.

    He wasn’t just ‘poor’ on Hannity, he was incoherent.  And he lost me when, apparently without any sense of irony, he referred to his previous remarks as “ill-conceived.”

    Aargh.

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