Credit some in GOP for honesty, not sanity

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You have to give the Republicans credit. The expansion of Tea Party warriors within GOP ranks has produced candidates this election cycle who, unlike their more mainstream brethren, are incapable of lying about their positions.

They tell you exactly what they believe, no matter how ridiculous it sounds.

Much has been made of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's attempt to parse rape into nonsensical categories like legitimate and illegitimate. He's such an uncritical thinker that he repeated the medieval canard that it was rare for a woman to get pregnant by rape because of a natural spermicide produced during the trauma.

This would be news to the 32,000 American women who conceive as the result of rape every year. The infamous Serbian rape squads of the Balkan wars certainly believed impregnating Muslim women en masse was possible. When genocide wasn't enough, they imposed the additional humiliation and trauma of unwanted pregnancies on the wives and daughters of their enemies. It is a monstrous crime still practiced in central African war zones.

But Mr. Akin has an ideological investment in the myth that pregnancies can't happen if the mother isn't a willing participant. It fits the logic animating the Republican Party platform committee's draconian prohibition against abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

In recent years, the mainstream of Republican political thought has been with Mr. Akin. The party didn't abandon him this week because he departed from GOP orthodoxy. It's mad at him because he was reckless enough to talk about abortion openly and without nuance.

There's no way to spin such an appalling notion as completely alien, especially when it is a major plank of the party's campaign platform. The real sin for Mr. Akin was in departing from a devastating economic critique of the Obama administration to talk about a social issue that works to the Democrats' advantage.

Mr. Akin's "honesty" endangered the GOP's chance of capturing a majority in the U.S. Senate. That's why he's been denounced and encouraged to drop out of the race by everyone from Mitt Romney to Ann Coulter.

There's a Republican candidate for sheriff in Hillsborough County, N.H., who makes Mr. Akin look like a paragon of restraint by comparison. If elected, Frank Szabo has vowed to stop doctors in the state from performing abortions by whatever means necessary -- including the use of deadly force.

"I would hope it wouldn't come to that, as with any situation where someone was in danger," he said. "But again, specifically talking about elective abortions and late-term abortions, that is an act that needs to be stopped."

As extreme as Mr. Szabo sounds, he's downright liberal compared to Mr. Akin when it comes to allowing exceptions to the rule. Victims of rape and incest are entitled to tightly controlled abortion services, as far as the judicial candidate is concerned.

"That's a medical decision," Mr. Szabo said modestly. "That's out of the area I'm talking about."

Still, Mr. Szabo's interpretation of the Constitution has more in common with the plot of Margaret Atwood's dystopian sci-fi classic "The Handmaid's Tale" than it does with anything resembling American jurisprudence.

As with Mr. Akin, the Republican establishment asked Mr. Szabo to drop out of the race against the incumbent Democrat for the party's sake. On Thursday he blinked to the extent of saying he regretted his words.

Recently, county judge Tom Head of Lubbock, Texas, predicted America is headed for another civil war if President Barack Obama is re-elected. Mr. Head is also Lubbock's emergency management coordinator and has oversight over a multi-million dollar budget. He called upon the state's military veterans to stand with him and several hundred deputies when United Nations soldiers move in to enforce Mr. Obama's tyrannical rule.

Mr. Head believes the Obama White House has already filed secret executive orders to nullify the Constitution and the powers of Congress. Mr. Head warns Texans to be prepared to revolt before the U.N.'s black helicopters are in the air. "I'm not just talking riots here and there," the judge said. "I'm talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the dictator."

Because Mr. Head's paranoid vision of America made no specific mention of abortion, he was an outlier in crazy Republican talk this week. Consequently, the national GOP did not urge the county judge who counseled sedition to step down.

That's just Texas talking.

tonynorman

Tony Norman: tnorman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1631. Twitter: @TonyNormanPG.


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