The GOP's Crazy Core

The pragmatic Republican establishment (despite the Tea Party, there still is one) is frantic to jettison Representative Todd Akin’s toxic comments on conception and rape, and to quarantine the scientifically-challenged congressman.

Much of the commentary has been about how Akin’s clumsiness connects to Republican vulnerability on other issues important to women. But this raises a larger question: Why is the Republican lunatic position politically toxic only on this particular issue?

The Tea Party position, after all, has become (or already was) the “mainstream” Republican position on at least a dozen other issues—denying climate change, rejecting evolution, embracing bogus science on homosexuality, destroying regulation of palpable harm to consumers, defending the right of assassins to bring AK-47s to schools, and on and on.

So why is this lunatic fringe position different from all other lunatic positions? Here are some conjectures:

Almost everyone is a feminist on the subject of rape. A politician can’t appear to be condoning it, even indirectly. It’s this, and not the ignorance of how women’s bodies work, that makes the congressman radioactive.

And why is almost everyone a feminist on the subject of rape? Because the basic gains of the women’s movement on core issues, despite its supposed recent eclipse, were durable. The political scientist Jane Mansbridge of Harvard, in her research on “everyday feminism,” found that most women, even they did not use the label, have attitudes on a wide range of issues from work to sexuality, that by any measure are feminist.

So why do the several other lunatic positions of the Republican Party not turn out to be politically radioactive?

Because the media cuts the far right too much slack—just look at the respectful coverage of climate change deniers and anti-evolution nuts rebranded as “Intelligent Design.”

Because Democrats have no guts on such issues as gun control.

Because the women’s movement was a movement, while many of the other issues where Republicans embrace insane views do not have movements on the other side.

This leaves two intriguing other questions:

Are enough crazies on the rape issue, (like those who see the rape exemption in anti-abortion legislation as a “loophole”), that this whole affair smokes out latent animosities between the Tea Party base and the pragmatic (though equally lunatic) party elite?

One thing the Tea Party base hates is being dictated to by party professionals. That’s why they delight in taking out incumbents. That’s why they’d rather be right than win. Akin shows every sign of becoming a martyr for this faction. The dust-up just confirms that Romney is nothing but a pragmatist.

And will the connections between Akin’s comments on legitimate rape and Republican vulnerability on other women’s issues lead Democrats and the press to make some of these other connections to the broader range of extremist views that now pass as the Republican mainstream?

Akin was no accident. When true crazies take over your party, they eventually display their true colors—and yours.

Comments

Kuttner, your article shows just how closed-minded you are. You apparently know nothing about why we conservatives think the way we do.
Let me give you a glimpse into my own conservative mindset:
1.- Democrats spend more money than an ID thief with a stolen credit card. So much so that they constantly add trillions of dollars of debt to our country and pretend that it's no big deal! It IS a big deal, and we are already in a BIG mess! What is their solution to this? Make cuts? Tighten our belts, like any reasonable person would do with his own personal budget? NO! They won't even pass a budget. In fact, they want to spend even MORE money on wasteful programs! Keynsian economics have failed- stagflation in the 70's and the failed stimulus's of 2008/2009 prove that... how can we get that through your liberal heads?!??
2.- Democrats like to tax. Period. And its always the rich! The people who already pay more than anybody else apparently don't pay enough. Nevermind that they cannot invest in business growth when their taxes go up. Nevermind the fact that even if we taxed every last penny out of them, we could only afford to run the federal government for a few weeks AT MOST. In my "crazy" conservative mind, this is not a viable solution. Tax hikes kill the golden goose that is our economy. But I guess this logic is too simple for over-educated, marxist-theorists to give it any clout.
3.- God is real, not simply the "opium of the masses." If any public policy is chosen, we have a very real responsibility to reflect our Judeo-Christian heritage and beliefs in it. Atheists dont feel this responsibility, and are thus willing to sacrifice the rights of individuals for the sake of the environment, the peace, and the world at large. That is why they protect the rights of a mother over her own body more than the rights of the unborn child. After all, what is a fetus to someone who doesn't believe any life has real, lasting purpose?
I could go on, but the point is that your name calling and use of terms like "crazy" is evidence of the fact that you have never truly considered why we conservatives do what we do or think what we think, You prefer to define us by extremists on the right, rather than consider what the majority of us truly want for the good of the country.

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