The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Politics of Dumb

Posted on | August 21, 2012 | 30 Comments

In a Twitter exchange with Steve Ertelt of — who has called on Todd Akin to step aside — I made this point:

There is a price to be paid for pandering and dumbing down: You attract stupid voters — and stupid candidates.

There are people who claim that Todd Akin is not irremediably stupid. OK, fine. His assertion that women have a biological defense against becoming pregnant as a result of forcible rape does have advocates, however controversial:

Dr. John C. Willke, a general practitioner with obstetric training and a former president of the National Right to Life Committee, was an early proponent of this view, articulating it in a book originally published in 1985 and again in a 1999 article. He reiterated it in an interview Monday.
“This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight,” Dr. Willke said of a woman being raped, adding, “She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.”
Leading experts on reproductive health, however, dismissed this logic.
“There are no words for this — it is just nuts,” said Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina, said, that “to suggest that there’s some biological reason why women couldn’t get pregnant during a rape is absurd.”

What scientific evidence could there be — how could anyone possibly demonstrate in a study — the idea that “spastic” fallopian tubes somehow hinder fertilization in a woman who has been raped? Stipulating that this theory is something within the realm of possibility (however remotely), where is the evidence?

But never mind that: Even stipulating that Dr. Willke’s theory of “spastic” fallopian tubes is valid, all he asserts is that fertilization is “less likely” in rape than in consensual sex, so that pregnancy as a result of rape is still possible. Does Dr. Willke have any data to quantify this factor? Can we say that the spastic-tube factor reduces the likelihood of pregnancy by 15%? Or 20% or 30%?

The point is obvious enough: Even if this effect (the existence of which we stipulate for the sake of argument) resulted in a 50% or 60% reduction of the risk of rape causing pregnancy, there would still be many hundreds of such pregnancies each year in a nation where, according to FBI statistics, nearly 85,000 forcible rapes were reported to law enforcement in 2010.

Perhaps there are scientific studies on this spastic-tube factor of which I am unaware or, as seems rather more likely, Harvard’s Dr. Greene is correct in dismissing it as “just nuts.”

Whatever. Dr. Willke’s theory is controversial at best, laughably implausible at worst, and basicaly irrelevant to the argument over abortion either way. So when Todd Akin brings up this theory in an interview about his Missouri Senate race, he is being stupid. And then, when this results in a political firestorm, Akin doubles down on stupid:

Arguing that he misplaced the word “legitimate,” Akin explained — during a follow up interview with Dana Loesch — that he meant to argue that women sometimes lie about being raped:

AKIN: You know, Dr. Willke has just released a statement and part of his letter, I think he just stated it very clearly. He said, of course Akin never used the word legitimate to refer to the rapist, but to false claims like those made in Roe v. Wade and I think that simplifies it….. There isn’t any legitimate rapist…. [I was] making the point that there were people who use false claims, like those that basically created Roe v. Wade.


The real problem with Akin’s remark wasn’t his awkward phrasing — using the word “legitimate” to distinguish actual rapes from “false claims” of rape — but rather his idiotic idea that this would be a good time to discuss Dr. Willke’s bizarre “spastic tube” theory.

Yeah, great sense of timing there, pal.

UPDATE: To extend the argument, my point is that Akin didn’t just make a stupid remark, he was too stupid to understand what was so stupid about it. And yet 36% of Missouri GOP primary voters thought, “Hey, let’s make this stupid guy our Senate nominee.”

We can’t blame the other 64% of primary voters for Akin, but once he’s shown himself to be hopelessly stupid, how can anyone claim that conservatives are now obligated to line up behind Akin and support him 100%? Yet I go onto Twitter and see people making this argument, that it is somehow disloyal — an act of cannibalism — to demand that Akin step down. Because I guess that’s how conservatives prove that they are superior, by their courageous defense of stupidity.

UPDATE II: Rebecca Kiessling is an attorney who is pro-life and was herself conceived as a result of rape. So I think we have to say she’s got complete moral authority here:

“If you are 100% pro-life with no rape exceptions, there is no need to question the veracity of a rape victims’ account, because you are against all abortions. It would not matter if a woman was not or not raped,” she continued.  . . .
“Rape exceptions in the law actually put the government in the position of having to ascertain when the child was conceived, who the father is, whether the child was conceived during the alleged rape or during intercourse with her husband or boyfriend, and if the child was conceived during the time frame of the alleged rape, then the government would need to determine whether the sexual intercourse was consensual or not,” she explained. “So rape exceptions serve to perpetuate the injustice against rape victims that their accounts are to be viewed with skepticism, and it further leaves the majority of impregnated rape victims wholly unprotected under the law. Rape exceptions suggest that a ‘real rape victim’ couldn’t possibly love ‘the rapist’s baby’ and that rape victim mothers don’t exist.”

We need more smart people like Rebecca Keissling speaking for the conservative cause, and fewer stupid Republicans like Todd Akin.

UPDATE III: Missouri resident Jim Hoft:

It’s official. The 5:00 PM deadline just passed and Todd Akin refused to step down. What a disgrace.


30 Responses to “The Politics of Dumb”

  1. Connee
    August 21st, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

    I look at the timing too.
    Decent, ordinary people are always so slow to recognize corrupt fellow humans.

  2. Zilla of the Resistance
    August 21st, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

    This is why retards should not be allowed in public office unless they openly admit they are retards, so the voters can make an informed decision on whether or not they want to be represented by a retard. And that goes for the Obama-Biden ticket too because there is something clearly wrong with both of those freaks too.

  3. Alborn
    August 21st, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

    Can one of the other R primary candidates run as an Independent and make the Akin candidate meaningless? That is what happened in Alaska. She even ran as a write in candidate and won. Just saying is there not another solution to the mess?

  4. sheryl
    August 21st, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

    Judge Sylvia James in Inkster MI was accused of embezzling money from a court fund…It was huge news here in MI. The Michigan Supreme Court did an investigation, and very long story short she was found guilty and removed from the bench by the state supreme court…….Who in God’s beautiful green earth do you think won re-election to the bench in the primary earlier this month in the city of Inkster in a landslide?……yep, you guessed it, Judge Sylvia James. stupid, stupid, stupid…stupidity is all over the damn country.

  5. Wombat_socho
    August 21st, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

    Considering how the “best and the brightest” have mucked this Republic up for the last century or so, I think voting some Downs kids into office might actually improve the government. At least they’re hard-working and generally cheerful, which is more than you can say for some of the losers infesting the Capitol these days.

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  7. Zilla of the Resistance
    August 21st, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

    I don’t consider Down’s kids ‘retarded’, I’ve worked with lots of people who have Down’s Syndrome and they were all actually really smart, certainly smarter than a lot of our idiot pols!

  8. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    August 21st, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

    Likely some split voting and McCaskill wins.

  9. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    August 21st, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

    Well given Akin is deciding to run, I do not want to feed McCaskill’s arguments. So let’s change the topic. Bloomberg wants to send all the illegals to Detroit!

    And is this the fault of the bush[es]?

  10. Stogie Chomper
    August 21st, 2012 @ 6:54 pm

    I’m probably wrong, but I don’t mind. I think Akin should stay in the race and that Republicans should support him. It would be terrible thing if one couldn’t insert Size 14 in one’s pie hole occasionally without having his life and career ruined. This hyper-sensitivity, created by the Left for use as emotion triggers, has made America into a hostile environment. The way I see it is this: Akin’s clumsy statement doesn’t change who he is or what he believes, and doesn’t make his leftwing opponent any more desirable. If Missouri voters believe a gaffe is more important than political philosophy, they are beyond saving in any case.

  11. dr kill
    August 21st, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

    But I’m sure he prayed really hard about this, so there’s that. Defenders of the Faith can take comfort in this WHILE THEY DEAL WITH THE NATIONAL RESULTS OF HIS DEFEAT.

  12. G Joubert
    August 21st, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

    Yet another object lesson in how elections have consequences.

  13. robertstacymccain
    August 21st, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

    Eh. I’m done with it now.
    Akin picked a helluva time to do this. It’s just wretched stupidity, the exact kind of stupidity we can ill afford at this particular juncture — like the left tackle who misses his block and permits a sack on 3rd-and-long that kills a comeback drive with time running out in the fourth quarter.
    There are gaffes that can be shrugged off as inconsequential. This wasn’t one of those. Akin has inflicted serious harm on the Republican Party, and his shameful selfishness — putting his vanity and ambition ahead of the common good — should make him a pariah. He will lose, and deservedly so, and taint with his disgrace all those who have supported him.

  14. richard mcenroe
    August 21st, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

    Apparently not. There’s a ‘sore loser’ incumbent protection clause that prevents primary losers from mounting an independent campaign.

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  17. Stogie Chomper
    August 21st, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

    I’m so ashamed and disgraced! Not. I listened to his comment, and it was pretty inconsequential. He said “legitimate rape” when he should have said an “actual case of rape.” I just don’t think one foolish statement should define a man’s career and his life. We must stop allowing the left to herd us in knee-jerk ways.

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  20. El Gordo
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 12:19 am

    And then he made an statement about female biology that removed all doubt about his stupidity. Since it made him unelectable is is NOT inconsequential. The Left? They WANT him to stay in the race. Why do you?

  21. Stogie Chomper
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 12:46 am

    Unelectable? So who gave you a crystal ball? I want him to stay in the race because I am tired of pussy “conservatives” reacting on cue to every controversy the left manufactures. IF he is now unelectable, credit the wimpy right for providing the propaganda the left needs to reeleact McCaskill. We are our own worst enemies and it is time we stopped being so easily manipulated.

    “The Politics of Dumb” is Republicans making the left’s arguments for them. See my post on the subject at:

  22. Adjoran
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 1:05 am

    I’m having a Blutarsky moment here. This ain’t over.

    Despite the early reports, the Missouri law doesn’t require a high standard for the candidate to remove himself from the ballot. After the deadline, he must go to court, but he has until September 25th when ballots are finalized.

    What would be more difficult is for the party to remove the candidate who won the primary.

    So it may still be possible to talk some sense into the guy.

  23. ss396
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 1:25 am

    Reading the articles and the comments here, and around on the blogs – why isn’t there this much antipathy against the stupidities of the lefties?

    Oops, I forgot – lefties get a pass.

  24. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 1:39 am

    Not at all. You have not been paying attention.

  25. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 1:40 am
  26. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 1:41 am
  27. rk
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 1:56 am

    I must rise in defense of the MO voters. This year has been a total nightmare from the get-go. There was a meaningless primary for President. Then caucuses that were invaded by Paul.bots (which is ok, except they agitated hard)

    Then we have this awful Senate primary. Brunner had billions of ads…totally answered with crickets by anyone. Finally, after months there appeared a primary.

    Aside from the Claire ads, I’d be hard pressed to remember any Akin ads…or Steelman ads for that matter. Plenty of negative Brunner ads….and of course Claire ads against Akin.

    Meanwhile, I saw one debate. Steelman looked unsteady. Brunner?…sorry who is this guy? What are his views? Akin at least appeared to have the advantage of a serious track record.

    Oh, well. (no, i didn’t vote for him). So who to blame? How about a tiny bit for the MOGOP????? Lousy year from the get go…very confusing. Then Aug 7th.. Maybe I don’t get out much….but they sure didn’t make it easy.

    And, btw, I was worried about this whole thing. Three people running, splitting the vote with no knowledge about who was best? Everyone thing, Claire is easy to beat. I’m not impressed

  28. snidelywhiplash667
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 3:08 am

    Cut the nitwit loose, leave him to his own devices, and move along. If he hasn’t the sense to quit, we can have the sense to ignore him.
    I keep trying to think of logical reasons why someone would make such a statement, an unforced error that’s all risk and no reward. It’s yet another reason that I think the whole abortion issue – whichever side one is on – has a corrosive effect on our politics, and is rightly reckoned as belonging outside the province of government.

  29. JDanaH
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 8:37 am

    Nice. As a secular, limited government right-winger, I can’t decide whether I am more repelled by the political positions of the religious right or by their sheer tenacious stupidity.

  30. Random
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

    I would say there’s evidence that female orgasm increases, somewhat, a woman’s likelihood of conceiving. And women usually don’t (but sometimes do — through no fault of their own) orgasm during a rape. So there’s probably a somewhat, but nowhere near reliable, lower likelihood of her conceiving during an act or rape than of consensual, enthusiastic sex.


    Akin and Wilke’s view is still categorically stupid. As distasteful as it is to admit, rape is an evolved behavior — hardly limited to just humans — that allows (often less desirable) males to forcibly impregnate females. That is its (distasteful, brutish) consequence and “purpose” if you will, although evolution has no purpose as such — certain traits are passed on if they’ve helped genes to be passed on in the past.

    FORTUNATELY, among those traits are love and genuine mutual desire — rape is a too common, but not that common, reproductive strategy. It’s generally the strategy of males who are losers and even most unsuccessful at attracting a mate males don’t rape.

    Anyway, the idea women can’t get pregnant from forcible rape is batty — the only reason this behavior exists is because women in the past have indeed gotten pregnant that way.