The leper is healed

Next Monday’s edition of our “Campaign Watch” program will discuss Todd Akin, one of the most prominent phrase-makers in Missouri politics these days.

We run excerpts of our weekly longer conversations with two of the state’s leading political writers on a couple of our newscasts each Monday.  The full conversations with Jo Mannies of the St. Louis Beacon and Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star are posted on our main Missourinet webpage.  Former Missourinet managing editor Brent Martin started these election-year programs several years ago and now that Brent has moved on to run our Nebraska Radio Network, this correspondent has assumed his place as discussion leader.

This week’s program is the first one since the “legitimate rape” comment by Akin last month in which he wasn’t discussed.  We make up for it next week. All Todd.

Todd Akin is a man of his word.  He said (about 100 times) that he was staying in the race against Claire McCaskill.

Jo and Steve have opined throughout Akin’s steadfast refusal to leave the ticket that they expect critics from within his own party to decide he’s not so bad after all and campaign money will start to roll in for a last-month surge.  Maybe, they say, it won’t come from some of the super-PACS that were most harsh in their reactions to the legitimate rape comment.  At least not directly.  But they expect Akin’s bare bones campaign run during the last month to gain some financial fat for the final month of the campaign.

We had noted in a previous posting at this location that some entities were loud with their silence during the post “legitimate rape” remark.  The state GOP, for instance.  Publicly, the party’s lips have been zipped.  But Kraske is reporting that state GOP chairman David Cole sent a memo to the Republican State Committee last month saying the rape remark was more than a distraction.  He said it “posed a threat to our party’s chances of retaking control of the U. S. Senate.”  And he worried Akin’s presence could have an impact on other races.

But with the passing of the deadline for Akin to quit, the party has decided it can say something publicly.  What it has said is not surprising.  “Just like all our GOP candidates elected in the August primary, the Missouri Republican Party stands behind Congressman Todd Akin,” said the official party statement.

A — shall we say cynical? — friend was heard to remark shortly after the statement came out, “What a courageous stand to take now.”

In the same vein as the party statement is Senator Roy Blunt’s promise to work for Akin’s election now that the deadline has passed for Akin to withdraw, which is what Blunt was saying a month ago Akin certainly should do.

Look, folks, politics is often a matter of “That was then; this is now.”  The nasty stuff we’ve said about our opponents yesterday aren’t true today.  Yesterday’s sleazebag is today’s golden boy.   Why?  Because he survived the worst we could call him.  And since he survived all of that, he’s golden.

Todd Akin, once a leper within his party, has endured exile to the colony.  His standing in the club is restored.

Akin did put a lot of people in his party in an extremely awkward place with his comment and his subsequent refusal to disappear contritely from the scene.  And the state Republican party found itself in an awkward situation of either supporting someone who was under attack from fellow Republicans all the way up to Mitt Romney, or demanding the resignation of a candidate that its own party members picked on primary election day as the person most likely to defeat Claire McCaskill.

The party might be in the position of saying some people think Todd Akin is a weirdo.  But political reality is that he’s OUR weirdo and we’ll support him because even our weirdo can help our party gain control of the Senate.

Todd Akin is a man of his word. He said he was staying when powerful voices were telling him he should go.  And he’s still on the ballot today.  Those of us who watch the political process have known that if Akin was still around by October first, he will be a tougher candidate than he was before then because his own party naysayers cannot be seen as abandoning one of the party’s own, someone many party members still think has a chance to win.  One of those observers is Claire McCaskill, who has started turning up the heat in her campaign against Akin, the candidate she wanted to face.

A statement by Joe Buck in last year’s World Series is applicable to this contest today.   When the Cardinals tied game six again, Buck remarked ‘They…just…won’t….go away.”

Todd Akin is a campaign Cardinal as of today.   A little more than a month from now we’ll learn who has the post-game champagne party.

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