The Backlash to the Todd Akin Backlash Starts to Take Form

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The Todd Akin affair is the affair that just keeps on giving. The entire mainstream of the Republican Party may have excommunicated Akin, but Mike Huckabee is having none of it:

In a Party that supposedly stands for life, it was tragic to see the carefully orchestrated and systematic attack on a fellow Republican. Not for a moral failure or corruption or a criminal act, but for a misstatement which he contritely and utterly repudiated. I was shocked by GOP leaders and elected officials who rushed so quickly to end the political life of a candidate over a mistaken comment in an interview.

….Who ordered this “Code Red” on Akin? There were talking point memos sent from the National Republican Senatorial Committee suggesting language to urge Akin to drop out. Political consultants were ordered to stay away from Akin or lose future business with GOP committees. Operatives were recruited to set up a network of pastors to call Akin to urge him to get out. Money has changed hands to push him off the plank. It is disgraceful.

Etc. etc.

So what happens next? My prediction from the start has been this:

  • Akin, figuring that he just has to gut it out until the storm passes, will doggedly insist on staying in the race.
  • Faced with this cold, hard fact, conservatives will eventually invent some reason that liberal criticism of Akin has gone beyond the pale, and will start to rally around him.
  • He will beat Claire McCaskill in November. Not by a lot, perhaps, but he’ll still beat her.

I’m going to stick with this. The backlash from the social conservative base has already begun, and I suspect that eventually the mainstream of the GOP will cave in. They’ll cave in quietly, but cave in they will. When it becomes clear that (a) Akin is staying in the race and is therefore still key to winning back control of the Senate, and (b) they risk a civil war within the party if they continue to blackball Akin, money and support will begin flowing his way again. It will happen behind the scenes at first, and then more openly as the controversy fades away and the election gets closer.

There are other possibilities, of course. I figure the top three contenders are these:

  1. The pressure gets too intense and Akin bows out.
  2. Party leaders stick to their guns and incite a civil war with social conservatives.
  3. Party leaders eventually cave in and quietly support Akin.

I actually think the open civil war scenario would be a lot more fun and a lot more satisfying, but I’m skeptical that party leaders will let it come to that. I’m sticking with scenario #3. You can cast your vote in comments.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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