Let the public contrition begin.
Rather than abiding by the wishes of his party and leaving the Senate race, Rep. Todd Akin is asking Missourians to forgive his inappropriate comments.
The Senate hopeful is releasing a new ad in which he speaks to the camera, corrects his past statement that victims of “legitimate rape” do not become pregnant, and asks for a second chance.
“Rape is an evil act,” Akin says in the ad. “I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them.”
Akin continues, correcting his remark from Sunday: “The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy… The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”
I do not believe him.
I might mmmmmmmmaybe have believed an apology that went something like this — “I’m sorry I said what I said, because I have since learned that I was wrong. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t mean it at the time, because I did. But I have heard the reaction from people who both oppose my views on abortion and those who generally share them, and have come to understand that I was factually mistaken. I still believe that even infants conceived through rape have a right to life, but I was wrong about the facts surrounding rape and pregnancy and I apologize for speaking in ignorance about such an important issue to everyone.”
What I don’t believe is what he’s saying, because I don’t think it’s true. I think he spoke in a way that reflected his real beliefs, and has come to realize it was epically stupid from a political perspective to have done so. Hence the mealy-mouthed “the words I said” defense. No, the words he said reflected the beliefs he held, and the anger that resulted is an appropriate response to his ignorance and his temerity in wanting to use that ignorance as the basis for public policy.
I think the apology I drafted wouldn’t work, because it is too honest and people could still (rightly) criticize his ignorance and arrogance. But it would be believable, at very least. I have said over and over and over that I do not see the merit in forced, faux public apologies. I realize they are meant to maintain the pretty fiction that nobody ever really thinks the “wrong” thing, they just speak inelegantly about their perfectly understandable and correct feelings. I feel no differently about Akin.
Akin said what he said and believes what he believes. If he wants to admit that he was wrong about what he believed and try to save his political hide that way, then I’m curious to see how that works out for him. But this? This is fake, and patently so, and serves no purpose for anyone save himself.
Update: It seems I owe commenter Jeff an apology of sorts. He indicated below that Akin’s beliefs were shared by many of his conservative fellow travelers, and I offered a tentative dissent. But it appears that the GOP platform committee believes that pregnancies resulting from rape, “legitimate” or otherwise, should be carried to term, and has included no provision for abortion even in those circumstances in the 2012 platform. So perhaps Akin’s ignorant and odious views are more widespread than I would have hoped, which is utterly depressing.