Over the years, the major parties’ election-year platforms have been regarded as Kabuki theater scripts for convention week. The presidential candidates blithely ignored them or openly dismissed the most extreme planks with a knowing wink as merely a gesture to pacify the noisiest activists in the party.
That cannot be said of the draft of the Republican platform circulating ahead of the convention in Tampa, Fla. The Republican Party has moved so far to the right that the extreme is now the mainstream. The mean-spirited and intolerant platform represents the face of Republican politics in 2012. And unless he makes changes, it is the current face of the shape-shifting Mitt Romney. ...NYT editorial
There's a cable movie channel -- maybe a "Showtime" channel -- that devotes part of its lineup to "extreme" films. Mostly extremely violent. That's what makes me think that the extremism in Republican politics falls in line with the fantasies of a small group in this country, not with the rest of us who look at our own communities and then look at what the "extreme" channel" is offering and say "not like us, thank goodness" while a few of us just love that stuff. The daring of some politicians seems to come right out of the movies, not out of the life we go home to.
But, as Maureen Dowd points out, Missouri Republican Todd Akin is not alone in his nutty beliefs.
He shouldn’t have to get out of the United States Senate race in Missouri simply for saying what he believes. He reflects a severe stance on abortion that many in his party embrace, including the new vice presidential candidate.
“I talk about one word, one sentence, one day out of place, and, all of a sudden, the entire establishment turns on you,” Representative Akin complained to the conservative radio talk-show host Dana Loesch on Tuesday as he spurned pleas from Mitt Romney and other G.O.P. big shots to abort his bid. He continued: “They just ran for cover at the first sign of any gunfire, and I think we need to rush to the gunfire.”
He’s right again. Other Republicans are trying to cover up their true identity to get elected. ...Maureen Dowd, NYT
Well, not exactly "cover up." The Republican platform committee has been on CSpan for days. Of course, most Americans don't watch prospective freedom thieves on CSpan, preferring instead to switch to kung fu killers a couple of hundred fantasies along the channel line-up. Or move on just one channel to an eloquent and humorous talk by the current president to a group of college kids in Nevada, where he offers them some real-life help with college costs. Nothing extreme, just practical and humane.
If you'd rather watch a movie than read editorials or watch CSpan, then you might want to watch (again, probably) "Never Let Me Go," a 2010 movie in which an idea -- not all that different from controlling women's choices -- creates a situation in which horrors are committed on a regular basis for a "good" reason.
...Some GOP insiders worry that an Akin insurgency campaign could become a rallying point for antiabortion forces and a high-profile subject of division within the party’s base, maybe as soon as next week’s Republican National Convention, which is supposed to be a time of unity. ...WaPo
The abortion controversy -- that's a polite way of putting it -- has a macro effect on the campaign. When Romney can keep the economy as the main subject, he does better. When social issues "intrude," Obama stays ahead. Akin's "misstatement" was a gift to Democrats.
This week, as more than 100 party officials gathered before the convention to map out the Republican platform, abortion took center stage. The platform committee adopted a proposal Tuesday calling for a constitutional amendment protecting “human life” — a broad antiabortion stance that says nothing about whether exceptions should be allowed in cases of rape and incest. Democrats labeled it the “Akin plank.” ...WaPo
The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg points out that Akin was, like it or not, speaking for many in the Republican party.
The outer reaches and the inner circles of the Republican Party, though, are in substantive, if not semantic, agreement. Obviously, it is possible to distinguish among different categories of rapes: rape accomplished by overt or overtly threatened violence, “date rape,” statutory rape. But the Republicans’ concern for such distinctions—their fascination with “parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about,” as President Obama put it—does not stem from empathy for the suffering of the victims, or any attempt to understand the varieties of trauma. It stems from a determination to force as many pregnant women as possible to carry their pregnancies to term. ...New Yorker
"... Force as many pregnant women as possible... ". Is there a big difference between that Republican attitude and the force rapists use on women?