I know I'm completely out of step with, well, everyone across the political spectrum, but I just don't see why the Republican mainstream has gone into overdrive to banish Todd Akin from the Missouri Senate race. The latest is Paul Ryan phoning Akin personally to ask him to quit; Ryan also gave an interview to a TV station in Pittsburgh distancing himself from Akin.
Don't Republicans realize that this looks like the Wizard of Oz saying, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"? Don't they see that it just alerts voters that they should be linking Akin to the rest of the GOP, mainly because every day the Akin story stays at the top of the news cycle is another day that, say, The New York Times can publish something like this?
In an anti-abortion measure once sponsored by Mr. Akin, Mr. Ryan and scores of other Republican lawmakers, an exemption was made for victims of "forcible" rape, though that word was later removed....
Mr. Ryan's more conservative views, which have been reflected in votes that would restrict family planning financing overseas, cut off all federal funds to Planned Parenthood and repeal President Obama's health care law, have come into sharp relief as Mr. Akin struggles for his political life. Mr. Akin and Mr. Ryan each have voted in this Congress for 10 abortion-restricting measures as well as those that limited other family planning services.
Here's what I'd do with regard to Akin if I were the GOP: harrumph in outrage, disavow, repudiate, cut off funds, then move on -- and I'd be well into the moving-on part by now. I'd also be well into the process of having campaign and party operatives gently but firmly informing mainstream campaign reporters that it's really, really not cricket to link any other Republican, and certainly not Romney and Ryan, to what that awful, awful Todd Akin said -- any attempt to insinuate a linkage is nothing more than liberal media bias! That's always worked in the past, right?
Why aren't Republicans doing that now? Why are they acting to ensure that this remains the lead political story in America for news cycle after news cycle?
Do they simply find it impossible to believe that Akin won't cave under pressure? (I essentially agree with Ed Kilgore that this controversy makes Akin a superstar in the religious right's eyes, so it's no surprise he's hanging in.) Do they really not understand that their panic makes them seem as if they have something to hide? Are they (as I theorized last night) planning to run a social-conservative campaign against Obama but in a somewhat lighter vein, and they're worried that this brings up what swing voters hate about that sort of thing?
I don't get it. I really don't. Just drop the subject and wait for something to replace Akin on the front pages. Why not?