A Grand Old Party in Panic

Whittaker Chambers said that “the great failing of American conservatives is they do not retrieve their wounded.”

He had it right, as Todd Akin can testify.

In an interview that aired last Sunday, Akin, the Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri, was asked whether he opposed abortions for women who had been raped. Akin’s reply:

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. … If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down … .

“But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

As no rape is “legitimate,” this was a colossal gaffe.

Yet anyone reading his statement knows what Akin meant. He was saying that in an actual rape — from what doctors have told him — the likelihood of pregnancy is rare. But if a pregnancy did occur, the punishment should be imposed on the rapist not the unborn child.

This was the moral position of those extremists John Paul II and Ronald Reagan. Of more interest, then, was the Republican reaction.

Howls for Akin to get out of the race came from pundits, talk show hosts, members of the Senate and the GOP’s monied elite that is raising hundreds of millions in hope of a sweep of both houses of Congress and the White House in November. Akin is henceforth not to get a dime.

Even Paul Ryan, whose position on abortion appears identical to that of Akin, called and urged him to drop out.

Who came to Akin’s defense? The Family Research Council. As President Nixon once told me, “Count your friends when you’re down.”

What does this hysteria over one egregious gaffe reveal?

A deep-seated fear, a gnawing anxiety among Republicans that the positions they have held and hold on social and moral issues, and even on economics and foreign policy, no longer command the support of a majority of their countrymen.

Consider. While the three amigos — John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham — are all for intervention in Syria, the Republican Party has fallen largely silent.

Where are the Republican and neocon hawks of yesteryear now that Barack Obama is pulling out of Afghanistan, when the expected result of a U.S. withdrawal is a Taliban takeover and massacre of many of those Afghans foolish enough to have cast their lot with the Americans?

Any Republicans demanding we stay the course in Afghanistan?

Rather than hearing the old paeans to free trade we used to get from Bush I and II, Republicans now talk about getting tough with China and fighting the “unfair” trade practices of foreign regimes.

Milton Friedman, whose writings Republicans once read as gospel, said we should throw America’s markets open to the world, no matter the protectionist policies of others, because cheaper imports benefit all of America’s consumers.

No Republican talks like that anymore. Yet none seems to have a solution to these endless trade deficits debilitating our economy other than to ignore them or accuse the Chinese of “currency manipulation.”

With homosexual marriage gaining converts among the young, the party of the Moral Majority declines to stand with Chick-fil-A.

On right-to-life, see the Republicans flee from Todd Akin, who committed a gaffe while restating his support for what has been a plank of the Republican platform since 1980.

Bewailing deficits, Republicans demand a balanced budget. And the Ryan budget does that — in 28 years.

Why so long? Because real budget cuts entail real pain.

Where is Mitt Romney going to slash a budget that consumes a fourth of the U.S. economy?

Not defense. Mitt promises to increase that. He cannot cut interest on the debt, which must rise as interest rates climb from today’s near-zero levels. He says he will not cut Medicare.

Is he going to cut Social Security? How about taking an ax to Medicaid, food stamps, student loans, school lunches, Head Start, aid to education, Pell Grants, EPA, the FBI and the earned income tax credit?

What the reactions to Akin’s gaffe and the congressional skinny-dipper in the Sea of Galilee expose is a fear in the soul of the GOP that history is passing it by and the end may be near.

For decades, the GOP has been the party that cuts marginal tax rates, opposes abortion, defends traditional marriage, sends troops to fight for our values abroad and slashes government spending.

Today’s GOP establishment is queasy even talking about social issues and recognizes that the new America has had it with the Afghanistans and Iraqs, wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent and contains scores of millions who will punish any politician who threatens their benefits.

The GOP’s insoluble problem is that the multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual country they created with their open borders appears not to like the brand of dog food the party sells.

Beating up on Todd Akin is not going to change that.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

Pat Buchanan


Patrick Buchanan is a conservative political commentator and syndicated columnist and author of several books, including Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?.

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  • faz643

    I was glad to read someone giving space to the thoughts I had been having since I first heard about this story. Why did the GOP choose to crucify this man in the media instead of acknowledging the gaffe with “legitimate” and then reinterating the prolife position that killing a child for the sins of the father is not acceptable. Instead they lost an entire week that could have been used much more effectively to get their message out. The GOP may not have planted this weed but they certainly fertilized it. Come on guys, stop wallowing in the manure and get back to work.

  • Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade WAS NEVER RAPED! It was NOT a “legitimate” rape. Todd Akin’s “gaffe” exposed the lie that unleashed the slaughter of 50 million innocents. (And every demon in hell wanted to protect that lie. We’ve got to realize that this is above all a spiritual battle. ) .
    Prior to Roe, states were able to ban abortions. The Texas law at that time did not allow exceptions in the hard cases, i.e., rape, incest, life of the mother. .The pro-abortion lawyers used “one little lie” to ram the culture of death down our throats. They claimed that Norma (who has since converted and is solidly pro-life) was raped, and that the “compassionate” thing to do would be to allow abortion in the hard cases. .But, as is always the case, the hard cases become the rule, and the “exceptions” immediately opened the door to abortion-on-demand, bringing about deadly “compassion” for millions. Each exception allowing the killing of even one innocent baby is like one pinprick in a balloon. The tiny hole will destroy the whole..I’m from Missouri. The “Country-Club” Republicans have never liked Christians, especially pro-lifers. We’re not fashionable enough for them. See Karl Rove’s veiled death threat to Todd Akin, and tell me that Akin’s “gaffe” is so important by comparison. .The Republican platform is pro-life, but the platform isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. This whole incident exposes the hypocrisy of the party. Every candidate is required to “swallow the poison pill” of allowing the baby to be killed in the hard cases if they want any party support. If any candidate actually takes the pro-life platform seriously, the so-called leaders will stampede like lemmings to push him off the cliff quicker than you can say “Todd Akin”

  • Peter Nyikos

    The Catholic hierarchy’s reaction to Father Benedict Groeschel’s carelessly worded remarks on sexual abuse is another case of an organization not retrieving their wounded. You can read about it here:


    Note that the youngest age which Groeschel mentions is 14 — an age to which lots of libertines would like to lower the age of consent. And even younger children can be responsible for their actions, like a case I know of where a 9 year old boy sexually abused a 4 year old girl — who was too young to even know what it was all about. He knew what he was doing, and should have been held responsible for it and punished.