The Real Question for Akin
The recent statements by Congressman Todd Akin in Missouri, and his hesitation about yielding his senatorial nomination to a Republican which would be much more like to defeat Claire McCaskill, highlight a problem which conservatives face all too often: professional conservatives whose lives have been lived in Washington.
Go back five years. Senator Larry Craig of Idaho engaged in dubious behavior in an airport bathroom. Craig had an undistinguished but conservative career in the Senate. His scandal did not endanger a Republican Senate seat, but it did profoundly embarrass conservative Republicans who were already facing an uphill battle in 2008.
Senator Craig promised that he would resign from the Senate, which would allow a reliably conservative Republican to take his place at once and keep the issue of his indiscretion out of the election. Then Craig changed his mind. Why? He was not going to be re-elected the following November anyway because he was not seeking re-election. If Senator Craig had left office, as he promised Idaho Republicans he would after the scandal, then his misconduct -- which was not very bad -- would have vanished.
Instead, he hampered Republicans with countless late-night jokes, hindered the efforts of social conservatives to make their case, and reinforced the public image of Republicans as corrupt. Is there the slightest doubt that his motivation in hanging onto senatorial perks a few more months was hubris?
If the vanity of Senator Craig was inconvenient for the republic and the Republican Party, what Senator Ted Stevens did was worse. The prosecutors in his 2008 trial were really persecutors, and their conduct was beyond simply unethical. They should have received the "Mike Nifong Award for Prosecutorial Integrity." But Ted Stevens was running for re-election in 2008 after having served 40 years in the Senate.
He was 84 years old. Had he simply elected not to seek re-election, Republicans would have held his Senate seat (this was the election in which Sarah Palin, after all, was the Republican vice presidential nominee). McCain received 59.4% of the vote to Obama's 37.8% in Alaska. Instead, his conviction just before Election Day cost Republicans the Senate seat which Democrats needed to pass ObamaCare and the Stimulus catastrophes of Obama's first two years.
No one need fault Stevens for seeking vindication for horrific prosecutorial misconduct, which even the New York Times conceded, but the cost of his fight was that our nation has socialized medicine and a huge jump in our national debt.
This ought to be the salient theme of Representative Todd Akin in considering what to do with his campaign to replace Claire McCaskill. His factual error about rape and pregnancy is certainly forgivable by conservatives: leftists almost routinely say stupider and more offensive things than what Akin said. But that is not the point.
Repealing Obamacare requires that everything fall into place politically. Losing the Missouri Senate race could easily leave Democrats in control of the Senate. Real Clear Politics today shows the Senate split 50-50, if Republicans win in Missouri. The persistence of Akin in the Senate campaign could move Missouri into a toss-up state, which could cost the presidential election. Moreover, the sheer distraction of the Akin candidacy across the nation will keep Republicans from focusing on the failures of Obama and the clownishness of Biden.
Is Todd Akin's political career worth the survival of the Republic? What in the world could a Senator Akin accomplish that would be worth that risk? He won only 36% of the vote in the Republican primary, which was a plurality and all he technically needed, but far from a rousing endorsement.
What Todd Akin is being compelled to do is to decide is what his real priorities are. He has lived an honorable life, however much leftists may be snickering now. He has done nothing to be ashamed of in his 64 years or in his 24 years as an elected official. Much of the congressman's life seems to be constructed around a serious faith in God and a true devotion to country. Hard as it is to swallow, for a good man like Todd Akin, there really is no choice now but to step aside. As a serious Christian, he must know: the greatest sin is pride.