Recently, Republican Congressman Todd Akin received a firestorm of criticism for his dangerous and stupid remarks about rape.
Attention must be undoubtedly paid to the language of rape, the extremism of the right and the need for feminism to combat such nefarious, oppressive ideas. However, keeping in mind it is election season, let us focus on what caused the brouhaha in the first place: a defense of abortion.
While patently outrageous, at least Akin is holding fast to his beliefs, something we can’t say about Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Unfortunately for Romney, Akin has drawn attention to the presidential hopeful’s own position on abortion. Lucky for us, Romney doesn’t seem to show a total disregard for high school biology and in CNN’s Aug. 22 report, he called for Akin to drop out of the race, and emphasized his own stance: “His policy would allow abortion in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother.”
This is an orthodox position for a social conservative. The caveat: Romney has flip-flopped on this issue.
Amusingly, www.politifact.com lists some of Romney’s past statements. First, “In a debate during his 1994 race against Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, Romney said, ‘I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.’” And, “In his 2002 campaign for governor, Romney said during a debate, ‘I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose and am devoted and
dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.’”
Let me be clear: It is totally acceptable for anyone, even a politician, to change her or his mind. Moreover, changing one’s mind can be a sign of maturity, compromise, new experiences and intellectual honesty. It is quite another thing, however, to lie about your own ideological history.
The way Romney speaks, you would think he believes recorders, cameras and modern media haven’t yet been invented.
The Aug. 23 issue of Slate puts the indictment concisely, “The problem with Romney isn’t that he keeps changing his mind. The problem is that he keeps changing his story.”
Briefly allow yourself to review Politifact’s recollection of Romney’s statements regarding abortion. Now juxtapose them with his changed version of history. Fox News on Aug. 17, 2007, when Romney was a presidential candidate in 2008, recorded Romney as saying, regarding his tenure as governor of Massachusetts: “I never called myself pro-choice. I never allowed myself to use the word pro-choice because I didn’t feel I was pro-choice.”
The aforementioned Slate article further reveals Romney’s trickery: “Since 2006, Romney has been running as a pro-lifer in the Republican presidential primaries. He has made three claims about his past: that he never called himself pro-choice, that his defense of abortion rights was philosophical rather than political and that until 2004, the issue was just an abstraction to him. None of these claims is true.”
Even now as he runs for president this November, Romney has maintained these same falsified claims. Granted, we need more time to fully expose Romney’s contradictions on this issue and others, like the individual mandate, but enough is here to castigate Romney as inconsistent and dishonest.
At the worst, we should condemn Romney for using an impactful social issue like abortion for political posturing in the Republican Party. Salon reported Aug. 8, 2011, “A close relative [the sister of Romney’s brother in-law, Ann Kennan] had died many years earlier in a botched illegal abortion, shaping Romney’s stance in favor of safe and legal access to abortion for all women.” Romney chose to reveal the poignant story to explain his then pro-choice position on abortion in a 1994 Senate debate with Ted Kennedy.
What has happened to Ann Kennan’s story? Why has Romney abandoned this narrative as if it is not one that will be replayed if he gets his way with abortion legislation? Has the thunderous applause of Republican crowds rendered him short of memory?
Akin’s notion of legitimate rape is extraordinary and gives us an opportune cause to closely examine the social views of possibly the next president of the United States. The portrait we gather from this examination of recent history is one of a snake smiling as he succumbs to sycophancy.
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