While obviously nothing good ever comes of a disturbing comment like Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri made on Sunday regarding rape with its abortion implications, the controversy surrounding his ill-spoken comment shows a stark and interesting contrast between the Republicans and Democrats in current – as well as in historical – times.
After Rep. Akin made his remarks on Sunday stating that there are “legitimate” rapes suggesting that there are different types of rape, the first of the strong denouncements came from fellow-Republicans who immediately called for the representative to remove his name from the upcoming election ballot in Missouri. These strong suggestions came from the likes of the currently-most-influential Republican in the land, GOP presidential nominee-to-be Mitt Romney.
The denouncements of Akin came swiftly, loudly, and with dramatic force from the Republicans. They want Akin and his ill-spoken words out of the upcoming senatorial race, out of their Party, and out of the nation’s politics all together.
Imagine that. A politician does something wrong and the “good ole boys” – and “girls” – in politics don’t try to “explain” what the politician meant, “re-explain” what the politician meant, or even apologize for what was said.
Politicians’ horrendous words and horrific actions have become much too common in American politics. Far too often, politicians – primarily Democratic politicians – line up to defend the wrongdoings of a politician who has done wrong.
The most extreme example of Democrats supporting a failed politician recently was in Chicago this past spring when Illinois and Chicago Democratic politicians continued to support a Democratic candidate, Rep. Derrick Smith, who ultimately won his Illinois state representative’s seat just days after allegedly being caught ‘red-handed’ in a recorded incident in which he accepted a bribe – though the representative still denies doing anything wrong and is running for office again. A Democrat who took $7,000 in bribes a week before an election was still supported by the Democratic politicians – and the supportive politicians then got the electorate to blindly vote for the alleged crook. Unbelievable.
This would never happen with Republicans. As witnessed with Akin, top ranking Party leaders are not sweeping his misspeaks under the carpets in Congress, and they are not trying to get him re-elected. En masse, the Republicans want him out, replaced, and forgotten as soon as possible so the Party can move on with governing the country. He has lost endorsements, and – more importantly at election time – he has totally lost financial backing from the Party and its Super PACs to help him win the election.
The Democratic Party has a long history of keeping scandalous politicians alive and well regardless of the incidents of which they’ve been involved. For the most striking example of this sort of undying support, think back to Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick Island incident involving Mary Jo Kopechne, the 28-year-old teacher and political campaign specialist who died in 1969 when she was a passenger in Kennedy’s car. Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick scandal was scandalous on many levels which suspiciously asked why they were together in the first place, what Kennedy’s condition was and if he had the ability to drive when he was behind the wheel, and much more.
In the Democratic Party, then as now, attempts to protect a politician are a tremendous joint effort by the Party. As we now know, Sen. Ted Kennedy had a tremendous, iconic career following his missteps.
Republicans don’t make these types of political-fairy-tale endings happen for scandalous events in a Republican politicians’ life. In the Republican Party, if you screw up – you’re on your own. If you survive the scandal it’s because you survived it alone. The Party is not going to try to explain, re-explain and ultimately apologize for a politician who messed up.
When a Democratic politician does the inexcusable, the Democratic Party throws the politician a life jacket. This is also proven by the fact that Vice President Joe Biden is still politically alive via continued explanations and apologies for his continual missteps and misspeaks. Granted, Biden has done nothing as severe as Akin, but he has had more than his share of mess-ups, for sure, and has even been excused and apologized for by the President. Conversely, Republicans are kept accountable for their own misspeaks and actions. Unlike the Democrats’ life jacket being tossed out to a sinking politician by the Party, when a Republican politician does the inexcusable, the Republican Party throws him an anchor – and that’s how it should be.
About Scott Paulson
Scott Paulson writes political commentary for Examiner.com and teaches English at a community college in the Chicago area. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.