Pity the Republican Party’s Congressmen. They can’t help themselves. From the time former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin started his “legitimate rape” comments, the GOP has been plagued by its candidates and elected officials talking about rape, God and abortion with no apparent purpose but to shoot themselves in the foot.
Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey is the latest victim of self-inflicted political damage. In response to Akin’s words, Gingrey said, “I don’t find anything so horrible about that.”
“And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that.”
That puts Gingrey in a minority. Most people do find plenty that is horrible about Akin’s comments. Even if Akin was only guilty of poorly explaining himself, his lack of compassion and understanding about just how horrible rape is bad enough. Mourdock and others have followed the same path. Slate is even calling the Republican Party the “Party of Rape.” That’s right on the mark. But it isn’t all Republicans doing this, just men.
What is particularly insensitive about Gingrey’s remarks is that he is an OB-GYN. If there is going to be any elected official who would understand the trauma of rape and minefield it is for a politician to walk, then it should be a doctor who specializes in women’s health.
After his remarks, Gingrey released a statement from his office.
“At a breakfast yesterday morning, I was asked why Democrats made abortion a central theme of the presidential campaign. I do not defend, nor do I stand by, the remarks made by Rep. Akin and Mr. [Richard] Mourdock. In my attempt to provide context as to what I presumed they meant, my position was misconstrued,” he said in the statement.”
That seems to be another regular feature in the rape controversy. Whenever one of these politicians gets his foot firmly in his mouth, he immediately turns around and blames it on the liberal media or that his words were misconstrued.
Why Gingrey felt compelled to provide context to a poorly made rape comment months ago can only be explained by him. The fact is that he did defend Akin’s remarks by stating that Akin was “partly right” and his words not so “horrible.” Gingrey is agreeing with Akin and Mourdock by suggesting that their words were taken out of context. Of course, that is the very same excuse that Gingrey uses to excuse his own blunder.
What makes this issue unique in politics is that so many top Republicans are bumbling into rape and bumbling on their way out. This isn’t a gaffe by one guy, but many. It is difficult to remember a time when a political party has been infected by as many gaffes on a single issue as the Republican Party is facing now. Rape isn’t even a controversial issue. Yet here is Republican after Republican clamoring to get his opinion on rape into the news. It’s become an epidemic of political foolishness and shows no signs of stopping. With all the problems that the Republican Party has expanding its base, it seems more content to destroy itself by political suicide.