August 31, 2012

Son of Akin Breakin' Heart

Hatched by Dafydd

A week ago, Democrat Claire McCaskill -- formerly the most vulnerable member of the Senate in either party -- was running way ahead of Claude Akins Todd Akin; she was up by 9 on Mason-Dixon and by 10 on Rasmussen. But in the last poll, they're neck and neck -- McCaskill up a one skimpy point, well within the 3.9% margin of error... and that's on a very Democratic Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll. Who'd'a thunk it?

It's entirely within the realm of possibility that the fundamentals will reassert themselves; voters might recollect whatever it was that drove McCaskill to the bottom of the barrel in the first place. Akin can certainly fundraise on his own, and Missouri isn't a state like California or New York, where you need tens of millions of dollars just to be competitive.

Looking at the actual questions in the PPP poll, Missouri must be a pretty conservative state (which we should've already known): Barack "You didn't build that" Obama's approval is underwater at 39 approve, 55 disapprove; Mitt Romney is doing well, 51 approve versus 43 disapprove. In the presidential race, Romney is way up, 53 vs. 41... twelve points -- much higher than John McCain's razor-thin Missouri victory of 49.43 to 49.29, and more than twice the margin of 49 to 44, which is how Missourians in this poll claim they voted.

McCaskill's and Akin's job approvals are about equally abysmal: 40 to 55 for the former, 33 to 56 for the latter; so it's no wonder they're tied. Nevertheless, Missourians prefer Akin not withdraw by a whopping great margin of 54 to 37. (The parties split evenly three ways between Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.)

The race bears watching.

If Akin pulls ahead again, I'm pretty sure that repeated references to Akingate will have less pull than the gravity of Pluto-Charon has on the Earth. By now, everybody and his monkey's uncle has figured out that the inartful phrase "legitimate rape" actually meant "forcible rape," to be distinguished from statutory rape... a crime of which I suspect 75% of males and 67% of females are technically guilty. That leaves us with the odd situation of voters rejecting a Senate nominee solely because he has an infantile grasp of reproductive biology. I wouldn't think that would be much on their minds, given the stakes.

But what about the analogy of the "Macaca" gaffe by George Allen in Virginia, 2006? Doesn't that imply that Akin is similarly toast? I don't think it's really relevant for several reasons:

  • Repeatedly calling a campaign volunteer of Indian descent "Macaca" smacked of racism; Akin has said nothing remotely racist... or for that matter, overtly sexist.
  • Allen's opponent, James Webb, was a serious and respected figure: Annapolis graduate, former Marine Corps infantry officer, decorated Vietnam Vet, and former Secretary of the Navy. Claire McCaskill, by contrast, is no Jim Webb; she is your basic village idiot, and everybody in Missouri knows it, including the Democrats. Until Akin's gaffe, I think the DNC had more or less written her off.
  • The 2006 U.S. Senate election in Virginia was a truly messy one, with no fewer than sixteen major scandals on both sides. Given that environment, anybody could have won. (The outcome was very, very close, with Webb nipping Allen by half a point.)
  • Finally, 2006 was a very, very bad year for Republicans; but 2012 is likely to be an excellent one. Romney's momentum might very well carry Akin along in his wake.

Akin could easily pull back into a substantial lead within the next month. All bets are off!

It's still quite proper for the national GOP not to give Akin any campaign cash: We as a party don't stand for ignorant gaffes, and we don't stand for scientific ignorance. (Well, other than rejection of modern evolutionary biology; holding firm on evolution would rule most conservatives out of the Republican Party!) But should Akin win on his own dime, I see no reason why we cannot, at that point, shake hands, forgive, and forget.

Perhaps both candidate and party will have learned something.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 31, 2012, at the time of 1:47 AM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

At first, when I heard Akin's comment, I was appalled. Now, after some time has passed... okay, well I'm still appalled. If the Pro-Abortion groups were to build a Straw Man Republican to run against, they would have scripted something similar to put in his mouth.

It's still quite proper for the national GOP not to give Akin any campaign cash: We as a party don't stand for ignorant gaffes
Yep. That's it in a nutshell. He stepped away from the acceptable norm for a Republican to get national $upport: No money for you! His future in the Senate is shaky at best, but in the end this is Missouri. They aren't L.A. or New York. This year when Missouri looks at their binary choice Akin will probably win.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 31, 2012 10:35 PM

The following hissed in response by: Chris Balsz

It's still quite proper for the national GOP not to give Akin any campaign cash

Not really. To recap, the Constitution assigned Missouri the authority to set up a scheme to create an election for US Senator; Missouri set up a primary election; it only works if individuals step up and offer themselves as candidates in that election and ask to be elected candidates; Akin did so; he won.

To suggest the proper function of a political party or Karl Rove's PAC is to raise money nationally, to check this constitutional scheme, is silly. Remember Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania? Republicans had a very different attitude about Democrat "discipline".
It's not your seat, and it's more Akins election than yours or "ours".


But should Akin win on his own dime, I see no reason why we cannot, at that point, shake hands, forgive, and forget.

If he did something objectively wrong, why help him get away with it as Senator?
If he did nothing objectively wrong, why not get behind him now?

The above hissed in response by: Chris Balsz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2012 5:41 AM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

A poll taken Friday has Akin up by 1 point, a shift of +8 in a week. I agree it is proper that the national GOP allocates its money to races it thinks it can win. Would I find offensive is that they would declare that one stupid remark made him unworthy of non-monetary support. They should have accepted his clarification and then said loudly and publicly that he would be light-years better than McCaskill in the Senate. Republicans really are the stupid party because of stunts like this. You go to the election with the candidate you have. You don't shoot them before they get across the finish line.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2012 5:44 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Chris Balsz, Snochasr:

We are the party of Capitalism, or at least we should be. We spend our money to maximize our political return. Or at least we should.

At this moment, the Democrats are stymied in trying to pin a "war against women" tail on the elephant; they're getting no traction because everybody, from the top (Romney) on down, has presented a united front of support and encouragement for women: Witness the parade of successful, independent-minded GOP leaders who (by a strange coincidence) happen to be female.

Simultaneously, every nationally important Republican (taking their cue from the presidential and vice-presidential nominees and from the party) has vociferously rejected not only Akin's remark but Akin himself, at least insofar as not sending him money for his election.

Imagine if some GOP senate nominee had said, "It's easier for Hispanics to do stoop labor because they're built closer to the ground." That's the kind of remark that must be repudiated, and its speaker must be rejected, or else the Democrats will have a golden opportunity to finally make stick their false charge that the GOP itself is racist. So too with the Akin gaffe and the sexism charge.

Such across-the-board denunciation constitutes an anti-stupidy, anti-sexist branding: Whenever a Democrat brings up Akin, any GOP nominee (outside of Missouri itself) can say, "I already refudiated that. Bugger off!"

But were we formally to embrace Todd Akin and his biologically ignorant, grossly offensive insult to women -- not just to feminists but even to such Republican stalwarts as my wife Sachi -- that would give Democrats the hook finally to make that stupid sexism charge stick. It would hang around the neck of every Republican nominee, from state assembly to governor to Congress to president.

Ergo, it is in the GOP's financial and political interest not to embrace Akin, which includes not giving him party money: As good financial stewards, we must therefore refrain from helping him financially... at the moment, especially as he's doing fine without it.

However, if it comes down to the wire, and if McCaskill starts pulling ahead, and if control of the Senate hangs in the balance, that would alter the equation; given those circumstances, which we won't know until a lot closer to the election, the econo-political equation would change. At that point, it might be better to take the branding hit and try to push Akin over the top. (As the lesser of two ills.)

But until and unless that dire situation eventuates, "it's still quite proper for the national GOP not to give Akin any campaign cash."

(The Constitution has nothing to do with it; it doesn't even mention political parties, which didn't exist at the time the Constituition was written. The Republican National Committee can spend it's hard-begged dough anyway it wants.)

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2012 2:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

Dafydd, what you say makes a great deal of sense, framing the argument as a series of scenarios and solutions. What I'm trying to understand is why it is impossible to have the c-Akin eat it, too. We can all denounce Akin's comment, and say that his stupid remark requires us to put our cash elsewhere. That his polls plunged immediately was evidence that such financial diversions were the right thing to do. What I don't understand is why we asked him to pull out of the race, in such strong terms? I mean, the voters of Mo. wanted him; he won the primary. They are stuck with him and so are we, so long as he sticks with it. We can condemn what he said, pull his funding, but who are we to say that the people of Mo. and Mr. Akin must fall over and die (politically)? The RNC should have stopped at repudiating the remark and diverting funding. Anything else is interfering in the Mo. state party's business.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2012 6:23 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Snochasr:

Anything else is interfering in the Mo. state party's business.

You and I and the RNC (along with the DNC) have the perfect right to interfere in the Missouri state-party's business, if by "interfere" we mean verbally urging the candidate and his campaign mangler to take one for the party. That's simply freedom of speech.

As to the wisdom of such an attempt, Akin was clearly the weakest of the three main candidates in terms of defeating the loathsome Claire McCaskill. The only reason he won the election was that Missouri has an "open primary" (itself an abomination), and a horde of Democrats crossed to the GOP side and voted for Akin... clearly because he was the weakest candidate.

He might still win, but that doesn't alter the fact that he was the candidate against whom the Democrats most wanted to run.

Realizing that, Republicans in Missouri should have jumped at the chance to use this mind-bogglingly stupid faceplant as their opportunity to force him out of the race, while they still could. Either of the two remaining candidates would almost certainly be well ahead of McCaskill, instead of neck and neck.

To summarize, there is good policy reason to try to force Akin out in favor of either of his Republican competitors; and the method chosen to try to effectuate this switch -- talking and writing about it -- is permitted and encouraged under the constitutitons, both federal and state.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2012 6:57 PM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

We may have a difference of opinion here, yet, if I could properly frame the statement of it. My concern is for the best outcome-- having McCaskill out and a Republican in the Mo. Senate seat-- and I believe that the best method of achieving that is NOT for the RNC to destroy the candidate they already have while not allowing his one glaringly obvious stupidity to damage any other Republican on the ticket. Telling the world that this one mistake completely disqualifies him from running (by publicly asking him to quit) hurts Akin's chances if he stays in, and hurts, IMHO, his replacement's chances if he steps down. Democrats, as we have often seen, are emboldened when they take one scalp through faux outrage at political incorrectness, and redouble their efforts to claim another. We don't need to attack our own; we have Democrats more than willing to do it for free.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2012 5:43 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Snochasr:

You framed your position well. For my own, I believe that the GOP, by supporting Akin in any way, might slightly help Akin... but will simultaneously endanger every other Republican in a close race. The downside is much larger than the upside. Ergo, let him fight his own battle.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2012 1:18 PM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

A matter of definition,then, divides us. You would "give him no help" which I think is OK. I think calling for him to drop out is actively harming his candidacy, and slightly tainting other GOP candidates. The GOP should have, I think, been "strictly neutral."

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 3, 2012 6:47 AM

The following hissed in response by: Chris Balsz

Perhaps I'm sensitive, but if you say giving any support to Akin is an insult to all women, and then say you will gladly give support to Akin if the payoff is right...guess what you just did.

Yes the Constitution does not mention political parties (or PACs). That does not give them a free hand. Rather, it means the scheme set up by controlling legal authority is not diminished by the presence of those entities, in the same way the speed limits are not invalidated by the invention of automobiles capable of 150 mph speeds.

The above hissed in response by: Chris Balsz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 5, 2012 8:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Chris Balsz:

Perhaps I'm sensitive, but if you say giving any support to Akin is an insult to all women, and then say you will gladly give support to Akin if the payoff is right...guess what you just did.

The antecedent of your conditional is not satisfied; I never wrote, "giving any support to Akin is an insult to all women." Hence the syllogism fails.

I wrote that what Akin said was an insult to all women -- which it is, and infantile magical-thinking to boot; and I said that were we to support such insulting nonsense, it would give the Democrats a strong argument that the GOP is sexist and foolish.

Note I don't say I agree with the argument, only that many others will... including independents and the undecided, who might therefore break for McCaskill. Likewise, if the GOP financially supported an outspoken Birther, that would damage the GOP brand and could cost us elections; therefore, it's in Republicans' best interest, and certainly within the law, for the Republican National Committee not to fund Birthers.

Or idiots who think wombs have a magical ability to prevent pregnancy in the event of forcible rape. Hundreds of thousands of women know by bitter, personal experience how wrong and hurtful such a claim is.

But all these calculations are trade-offs; and as circumstances change, the value of a trade-off may likewise change. Under some conditions, it would be wiser to fund Akin (or even a Birther), if that funding might push him over the top... and if the hit we would take to the Republican brand would not be as detrimental as, or could be mitigated by, the benefit of electing another Republican, especially one who recants his insulting stupidity.

The GOP has sole authority to make that decision; not Todd Akin: It's not his money. And I believe it's a wise decision not to fund him... at this time.

Yes the Constitution does not mention political parties (or PACs). That does not give them a free hand.

You are correct; there is some controlling legal authority: Political parties cannot use their money to fund criminal activity, for example, or to abscond with the cash to Aruba.

However, political parties certainly have all legal authority to decide which legitimate candidate to fund, how much to fund him, when to start funding him, and when not to fund him.

Do I misunderstand your case, or do you actually argue that Todd Akin, having won the primary, has a legal claim on money currently controlled by the RNC, such that he can go to a court and demand they pay him whatever he (and/or the judge) thinks is fair?

I'm no lawyer, but that sounds awfully fishy to me...!

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 5, 2012 1:17 PM

The following hissed in response by: Chris Balsz

Seems like you agree that the GOP and right-wing PACs should not be calling on Akin to step aside, or start rallying replacements to step up to fill in for him. You just want to deny him GOP funds lest other confused people get the idea the GOP appears to be ignorant sexists.

The above hissed in response by: Chris Balsz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 6, 2012 8:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Chris Balsz:

Seems like you agree that the GOP and right-wing PACs should not be calling on Akin to step aside, or start rallying replacements to step up to fill in for him. You just want to deny him GOP funds lest other confused people get the idea the GOP appears to be ignorant sexists.

Seems like you're determined to put words in my mouth <g>.

I agree on your second sentence.

On the first sentence, the GOP was right to call on Akin to withdraw from the race when that was feasible; but that time is past, as now it would take a court order to change nominees.

Suing our own nominee obviously raises the downside of the swap to an unacceptible level, which is why the GOP is no longer calling for Todd Akin to withdraw.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 6, 2012 12:01 PM

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