Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The War They Can't Give Up

President Obama is back in Nevada this week. He talked about education in Reno yesterday, and he's set to talk about job creation in North Las Vegas today. Yet while Obama is trying to talk schools and pocketbooks, the G-O-TEA has yet again injected "TEH CUL'CHUR WARZZZ!!!" into the national political discussion.

And yes, despite what Mitt Romney and RNC leadership want you to believe, Missouri US Senate candidate Todd Akin very well represents "the new normal" of the now "TEA" fueled Republican Party.

When Missouri’s Republican candidate for the Senate said that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy,not only was Todd Akin echoing the extreme antiabortion positions held by many in his party, he was exemplifying the creeping extremism within the Republican Party on women’s issues and far more. In the new, extremist Republican Party, Akin is not an aberration. He is merely the latest canary in a coal mine of crazy.

Along with Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Akin was an original co-sponsor of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” —which, originally, narrowed the federal definition of rape to restrict the ability of women and girls to use Medicaid dollars and tax-exempt health spending accounts to terminate pregnancies resulting from rape. Akin has since said he “misspoke” in his “legitimate rape” remarks, but the legislation he and Paul Ryan sponsored similarly relabeled rape as “forcible rape” —creepily suggesting there are other, more acceptable versions. What’s more creepy? These are not fringe opinions expressed by powerless lunatics at teeny right-wing organizations. These are the opinions of over 200 Republican members of Congress, one of whom is the party’s candidate for the United States Senate in Missouri and one of whom is the party’s candidate for vice president.

Yes, the Republican establishment is condemning Akin’s remarks and distancing itself from his candidacy. But let’s be clear: Akin is only guilty of saying out loud what many Republican leaders think and legislate on the basis of. Talking Points Memo has detailed other Republican leaders throughout the years who have questioned that rape can lead to pregnancy and prominent Republican leaders like Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal oppose abortions under all circumstances, including rape. Both will be speaking at the Republican National Convention next week. Moreover, the many Republicans pushing back against Akin seem more concerned with preserving the dignity of the Republican Party than protecting the dignity and rights of women who have been raped.

OK, I will at least give Nevada's own Joe Heck some credit for explaining why Akin's beliefs on pregnancy from "legitimate rape" are wrong. That's at least a good first step.

However, both Joe Heck and Dean Heller have constantly fought alongside top religious right politicians like Todd Akin in the ongoing "Tea Party" War on Women. In fact, both Heck and Heller even voted for Akin's signature bill last year. No really, check this out.

But Republicans have a much bigger problem that goes beyond a race for a Senate seat in Missouri, their biggest problem is that every House Republican voted to redefine rape, including Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his Vice Presidential running mate. Ryan was also a cosponsor of H.R.3 in 2011 which redefined rape.

H.R.3 past by a vote of 251-175, in the Republican controlled House on May 4, 2011, with every House Republican voting in favor of it, including Nevada Representative Joe Heck, and former Nevada Representative Dean Heller, who was recently appointed to the U.S. Senate.

Perhaps Todd Akin made the G-O-TEA case for The War on Women quite inartfully, but the fact of the matter is that Akin's strident anti-choice and anti-women views have now become "the mainstream" of today's "tea party" controlled Republican Party. After all, Mitt Romney himself has gone out of his way to embrace the most extreme religious right positions against abortion and contraception. And in case that wasn't enough, he added Paul Ryan to his ticket. And remember, Paul Ryan co-sponsored that rape redefinition bill with Todd Akin. And G-O-TEA Congresscritters like Dean Heller and Joe Heck regularly take their political marching orders from Paul Ryan.

I'm sure Heck and Heller and Romney will soon complain about "those pesky Democrats" trying to "distract" with "silly issues" like women's health. But if they really don't want to fight The War on Women any more, why must they keep trying to restrict and/or fully destroy women's health care? Think about that.

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