Kent Bush: Bad weekend for the Republicans

Kent Bush

Who says no one pays attention to the “flyover” states? Republicans from Kansas and Missouri made sure the world was watching this weekend.

For a bunch of social conservatives, there sure was a lot of talk about nudity and naughtiness. The biggest scandal involves a congressman who is taking on Missouri  

Senator Claire McCaskill. Todd Akin went from leading the incumbent by as much as 11 points in a recent poll to facing calls from within his own party to step out of the race.

Akin made comments Sunday that proved my belief that ideology not only affects opinion, but facts as well. The representative is adamantly opposed to all abortion. He even justifies forbidding the process in cases where a woman is a victim of rape or incest.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, pregnancy from rape is really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Unfortunately, the doctors the candidate quotes fail to account for the thousands of women who get pregnant from “legitimate rape” every year.

Akin tried to walk back his comments later Sunday, but his clarification merely stated that he misspoke. Was he trying to say “legitimate rake” or “legitimate tape,” and it just came out rape?

Akin didn’t misspeak. He accidentally opened a window into his soul that he has kept shuttered for years in politics. Even as a pro-life proponent, it is hard for me to imagine  

disallowing that option for women who have suffered such a heinous event. Women who get pregnant accidentally shouldn’t seek an abortion for their convenience. But in the case of rape or incest, the number of emotional complications should affect the procedure’s availability.

It would speak to the woman’s inner strength if she did carry the child conceived in this way to term and give it up for adoption, but I can’t see the law forcing that to be her decision.

Fortunately, when someone says something as preposterous as Akin did, the electoral process has a way of “shutting the whole thing down.” But Akin’s ignorant comments create a multi-faceted problem for the Republicans. Not only does this threaten his ability to defeat McCaskill in Missouri and, thus, make GOP control of the Senate less likely, but he could take vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan down a notch or two.

Ryan is no longer just the guy who proposed a budget that made him popular, which he no longer supports. To use Sarah Palin’s lingo, he’s been “palling around” with extremist representatives like Akin, Michelle Bachmann and Louie Gohmert. That won’t help the swing states move in Mitt Romney’s direction in November.

But one Congressman from Kansas went “all out” to make sure he took some of the heat off of Akin and the GOP. Kevin Yoder, from Kansas’ 3rd District, admitted to skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee during a trip with about a dozen representatives  

about a year ago.

He was “nekkid” in the same water on which Jesus walked. It is not clear if he had a religious experience. He told Politico he regretted his suitless swimming session.

“A year ago, my wife, Brooke, and I joined colleagues for dinner at the Sea of Galilee in Israel. After dinner, I followed some members of Congress in a spontaneous and very brief dive into the sea, and regrettably I jumped into the water without a swimsuit,” Yoder said. 

“It is my greatest honor to represent the people of Kansas in Congress and for any embarrassment I have caused for my colleagues and constituents, I apologize.”

Regrettable indeed. I’m so glad one of the pro-Israel PACs spent about $10,000 per person to “educate” these legislators. Unfortunately, what could have been an educational trip turned into a kegger where a Kansas congressman was skinny dipping in front of the wives and children of several of his colleagues.

You will hear a lot of pundits on Twitter, FOX News and AM radio working hard to get the 2012 campaign back on the rails. Ryan had almost successfully run away from his Medicare plan and budget. Now this?

The pundits are trying hard to push this discussion back to the economy, and I want to go there with them.

Do you really trust decisions as important as how to save this economy to people who think like Akin or make decisions like Yoder? Ryan is a member of the wild-eyed conservatives caucus and this weekend they gave us an idea of how their ideology affects their actions.

This was a bad weekend for the GOP. It would take vice president Joe Biden two weeks to say or do that many crazy things. The only thing the Republicans can be thankful for is that this didn’t happen in October, and that they have time to recover.

Kent Bush is the Augusta Gazette Publisher, a columnist and blogger for the GateHouse Media Network. He can be contacted at