Todd Akin: Winging It, Accidentally Insulting Mitt Romney

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 22 2012 9:06 AM

Todd Akin: Winging It, Accidentally Insulting Mitt Romney

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ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 06: Jeff Foxworthy and Sean Hannity during the FOX News 'Hannity with Sean Hannity' 15th anniversary show at Olympic Centennial Park on October 6, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Chris McKay/Getty Images)

Photo by Chris McKay/Getty Images

It would be unfair to call Todd Akin stupid. He's an engineer, a graduate of the fine Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He knows some things. But at the root of his current problems is a bizarre, revealing tendency to hear an item one time, realize that it reinforces his beliefs, and repeat that item to everyone in earshot.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Akin's second radio interview with Sean Hannity -- a complete hack who spent 40-odd minutes with Akin explaining that Republicans needed to win the Senate -- brought this into focus. Here's Akin defending the dignity of children born to raped women.

A number of different people we've heard about -- a great songwriter from Missouri and others -- are a product of rape.
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Where did Akin get that? Well, on Monday, Akin gave his first interview about the scandal to Mike Huckabee, who reminded Akin that Ethel Waters was the product of rape. He never talked about this previously.

At another point in the interview, Akin explained his stumble into psuedo-science by citing Dr. John Willke. We've been over this -- Willke, an M.D. and fount of baseless theories about sex and pregnancies, had developed the "forcible rape" concept and the "secretions to stop pregnancy" concept years ago. Willke was the only "doctor"* Akin bothered to cite. And later, in the same talk with Hannity, Akin insisted that "our polls" showed that his race with Claire McCaskill was still a tie. Which polls? "The PPP, Public Policy Polling one," said Akin -- referring to a study that was demolished by NRO's Jim Geraghty, because to get the Akin "stability," PPP had to increase the sample of Republicans.

The big takeaway from Akin's Hannity Intervention came when the host kept telling him that Mitt Romney wanted him out. "Don't you think there's a little hyperbole going on here?" sighed Akin. "Don't you think he may have built this thing up and made a bigger deal about it than he needed to?"

Akin was giving Romney's comments just as much weight as anybody else's comments -- no regard to context. That's sort of a pattern with him.

*He is a doctor! I use scare quotes only to refer back to Akin's plaintive "doctors have told me" comment.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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