Todd Akin Must Go

Congressman Todd Akin is nothing but a liability, and he should immediately step aside. Politics is the art of the possible, and it will be impossible to win with such a tainted candidate.

Tom McClusky, VP for government affairs at the Family Research Council, tweeted: "We should always hold ourselves to a different standard but we should also not throw friends who've apologized under a bus."

Akin's apology counts for very little, because right now is not the time for forgiveness. Forgiveness, like respect, is something to be earned. Forgiveness does not require political suicide, or irresponsible silence in the face of outrageous conduct.

Before anyone else accuses Republicans of throwing Akin under the bus, let's get our metaphors right: We can't throw Akin under the bus, because he is in the sewer. He purposefully chose to play in the sewer, and now he will carry an unbearable stench from here on out. If you prefer to stick with the bus metaphor, then consider this: We either thrown Akin under the bus, or he will drag us into the gutter.

The only thing standing between Akin and the right decision is his ego. There is no political, practical, or moral justification for him to remain in the race.

Politically, Akin is a toxic liability. Every Republican in elected office should be contacting Akin, and his supporters, and urging them to preserve the party's reputation by leaving the race. Akin, and his hideous remarks, will tar the Republican brand at the worst possible time, among a critical voting bloc. Even if the GOP had lock step support from female voters, it would still be in the party's political best interests to push Akin aside.

Given the vile remarks he made, which no apology will ever undo, Todd Akin has just given a weakened left the ammunition they need to do real damage. Every cause held dear by conservatives will be undermined if we allow one of our Senate candidates to remain the race after such a horrid remark.

Every second he remains in the race, he does lasting damage to conservatives across the country who will be undermined by association with Akin's despicable comments.

I can understand taking a position on a controversial issue, but that's not what Akin did. He spoke from a standpoint of heartless ignorance on a profoundly personal and sensitive topic. Rapists shatter lives and make life a living hell for their victims. Akin will never live this down, and the sooner he recognizes that, the sooner the rest of us can do damage control.

From a practical standpoint, Akin is purely toxic, with no redeeming quality that couldn't easily be found in another candidate. Former Senator Jim Talent would be doing a great service if he would reconsider his position, and run against Senator Claire McCaskill. Akin's primary opponents, Sarah Steelman and John Brunner, both led against Sen. Claire McCaskill in polls taken during the primary. Jo Ann Emerson, who has as much experience as Akin, is rumored to be a possibility as well.

On Hannity, Akin gave a miserable defense of his continued candidacy. He claimed that "the people of Missouri are big enough to take a look at the whole package and say, 'Hey, this Obama is about to break our country and Claire McCaskill is a rubber stamp for him and so we need somebody who is going to take the fight to them.'" There are plenty of people who can fight the fight without dragging the Republican brand through the sewer.

Conservatives must resist the urge to simply point out the left's "hypocritical overreactions," as Dana Loesch did, and hope that doesn't come across as a defense of Akin. Yes, liberals say awful things and don't get called out on it. That's all perfectly true. It's also perfectly true that our responsibility right now is to put our own house in order.

The only approach that will ever begin to rehabilitate Akin's reputation is for him to start apologizing to rape victims, and their families, and hope that one day he will cure the pain he has caused. That is not something Akin can or should do while holding political office.

John T. Bennett (MA, University of Chicago, Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences '07; JD, Emory University School of Law '11) is a writer living in Atlanta, GA.  Comments, criticism, and news tips are welcome at

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