Todd Akin's Legacy: The Crazy Line

What Women Really Think
Nov. 6 2012 11:30 PM

Akin's Legacy: The Crazy Line

140244183
Sen. Claire McCaskill and Sen. Jim Webb announce legislation to overhaul the federal government's planning, management, and oversight of wartime-support contracting at the U.S. Capitol March 1, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The only depressing part about Missouri Republican Todd Akin’s loss to Claire McCaskill tonight were the tepid emotions expressed in the exit polls. When asked about Akin’s infamous pontification about “legitimate rape” and the female body’s magical ability to shut down pregnancies, Missouri voters reported that “at the very least, they gave the comment some consideration in the voting booth.” Some consideration. It’s hard to imagine what would have merited serious, weighty consideration for those voters. A scientific theory about legitimate murder? A UFO sighting? (Actually there was a second depressing thing. Akin seems to have either tied or won the white-woman vote, according to CNN. That is not a misprint, and we can’t really explain how or why that happened. Chalk it up to the meth labs.)

Nonetheless the voters of Missouri did the right thing, and re-elected McCaskill, and for that we are grateful. Younger, pro-choice, and African-American women came out more strongly to vote for McCaskill than they did in 2006, and gave her a solid lead. The bonus here is that if things stay on track, we are on the way to having a record number of women in the U.S. Senate.

Advertisement

The lasting legacy of Akin and Indiana Republican Rick Mourdock, who also lost his race, is that together they seem to have outlined in bright pink where the crazy line is. It is clear now that you can not say certain wacko things that you read about in a church bulletin or overheard a “professor” lecture on in in a bible study group and expect the support of either your own party or the voters of your state. You can particularly not do these things in mansplaining mode because women, who make up the majority of voters in many states, will make you pay.

The downside of course is now the fringe has gotten a loud reminder that they must not air their fringe in public anymore, that they must keep those church bulletins tucked safely in the inner pocket of their khakis if they want to be elected, that they must, in order to survive, do the thing they hate the most: evolve.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.