Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Appears Stupid, Is Extreme

David Ferguson reports

On Tuesday’s edition of “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough vented his frustration with Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (R)’s refusal to drop out of the race for U.S. Senate and said that he’s tired of his party being the “Stupid Party.” Akin is the Republican congressman who said in an interview earlier this week that a woman’s body can stop conception in the instance of a “legitimate rape,” thus obviating a need for exemptions from abortion restrictions for the victims of rape and incest.

On Monday, Scarborough said that Akin was evidence of a Republican party that had placed ideology ahead of actual electability and fitness to govern. On Tuesday, with Akin (thus far) refusing to get out of the race, Scarborough made it clear that, to his thinking, the mortally wounded Akin campaign could be spoiling the chances for Republicans to take the majority of seats in the Senate....

Scarborough said that he’s less interested in the question of whether or not the Republican Party should be a moderate or a conservative party, “I’m just tired of the Republican Party being the ‘Stupid Party!’” he said, “Stupid people saying stupid things and scaring off independent voters and swing voters!”

As the video (below) reveals, Scarborough exclaims "Do I want it to be a conservative party? Do I want it to be a moderate party?  I'm just tired of it being the stupid party.  I'm tired of us being stupid and saying stupid things and scaring off independent and swing voters."

Republican senatorial nominee Todd Akin is guilty of bad strategy, bad science, and bad politics.   But Scarborough's is less the stupid party than the party of extremism.    Last year, Representative Akin co-sponsored HR 212, the Sanctity of Human Life Act, by which Congress would declare

* The life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood
*The Congress affirms that the Congress, each State, the District of Columbia, and all United States territories have the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions

Conceivably, the bill would outlaw in-vitro fertilization, though more likely imperil its practice.  Bioethicist Art Caplan explains "it would not allow any destruction of embryos and since nearly all IVF depends on the overproduction of embryos the law would drastically alter how IVF is done, raising the cost of doing it and hugely decreasing the success rate."  Kevin Drum notes that the bill provides no exception for eggs fertilized by rapists or by your own father and therefore

has the plain intent of effecting a policy that allows states to ban abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest.

In fact, if this bill were passed and the Supreme Court upheld it, I'll bet that a rapist could go to court and sue to prevent his victim from getting an abortion.  He'd argue that the fetus was legally a human being, and the court has no power to discriminate between one human being and another.  He'd probably win, too.

Scarborough is aghast that the cat is out of the bag, that the reasoning and perspective behind the Sanctity of Human Life Act and personhood amendments proposed in a few states have been put on display.   Transparency can be so inconvenient, the consequence being numerous conservative Republicans calling for Akin to step down, with few repudiating his views.

Little harm will come because of such alleged stupidity, but much can come because of the policies Todd Akin advocates.   They are the policies of the Republican Party, which is set to approve a platform plank with comprehensive antiabortion language, including urging "legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."   And they are especially the policies of presumptive vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who co-sponsored HR 212 and has exhibited, absent scrutiny, a fanatical anti-choice record.

"Extremism in the defense of liberty," the late Arizona senator and presidential nominee Barry Goldwater once declared, "is no vice."   It may be no vice- but continue in that vein, and talk show hosts will brand you "the stupid party."

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