John Podhoretz has the backstory if you’re coming in late, and concludes:
George Allen of Virginia probably lost an unbelievably close election in 2006 because his candidacy was thrown off course by his weird offhand reference to a South Asian Democratic kid taking video of him at campaign stops as “Macaca.” Rivals suggested he was using a French word for monkey, which then opened up a can of worms about Allen’s mother—who, it turned out, was a North African Jew intent on hiding her own Jewishness. The race went haywire, and even so the Democratic candidate, James Webb, only won by 4/10s of a percent.
Apparently, if Akin withdraws by 5 pm tomorrow, the Missouri Republican party can put up a new candidate to face McCaskill. After that, he’s on the ballot for good. Call this the Bob Torricelli strategy—when the former senator from New Jersey found himself awash in an ethics scandal in 2002, he vamoosed from the race in favor of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg even though there was no legal way for this to be done. No matter. The New Jersey Supreme Court declared it legal, and Democrats retained the seat.
Steve Green adds that Akin was unprepared for the key question for which he had to know the drive-by media would be gunning for him:
Pro-life candidates know they face a hostile media on the issue of abortion. It’s even worse for “no exceptions” candidates like Akin, who would outlaw abortion even for rape and incest. (I would argue that “no exceptions” candidates like Akin are even worse for women, but abortion isn’t really the subject here. Anyway.) In a long-form interview, no journalist worth his salt can resist asking the “No exceptions, really? Not even for rape or incest?” question, even if just to watch the candidate squirm. So someone like Akin must go in prepared. He must have an answer. It must be short. It cannot be compromising. And he cannot wander off into his pet theories about how women’s bodies function.
Akin was not prepared, on a very basic issue which also happens to be a very big issue in Missouri. It wasn’t that long ago that even Democrats had to be pro-life if they wanted to win a major office outside the two bookend cities of KC and St. Louis.
Akin was so unprepared, I’m forced to believe that if the abortion question hadn’t tripped him up on Sunday, it would have been some other question on some other day — even closer to Election Day.
While Akin is playing a will-he-or-won’t-he-go guessing game, Michael Walsh writes that he need to go:
Akin’s sin is terminal stupidity. To take a very winnable seat in Missouri against a very weak opponent and turn it into not only a tossup but something damaging to the Romney-Ryan campaign as well is a rare feat, but Akin just managed it. To add insult to injury, it happens on the same day that Newsweek hands the Right a major media victory — and along comes the latest avatar of the Stupid Party to change the subject.
This not about “defending our own” — this is about winning. The Right spends far too much time battling the double standard; in this case, explaining why what Akin said isn’t so bad, etc. It’s a total waste of time. Every conservative should put pressure on Akin to step down immediately, remove this distraction and put a strong candidate in the race. Paging Sarah Steelman…
And as Paul Mirengoff adds at Power Line, “McCaskill to Akin — please don’t leave me.”