Where Are the Moderates? - The Missourian: Columns

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Where Are the Moderates?

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Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2012 5:00 pm

The Todd Akin saga has given Missouri about as much national and international press as when Tom Eagleton withdrew as a Democratic vice presidential candidate after it was disclosed he had been treated for mental stress resulting in depression. That was in 1972.

A new book out this year by Joshua M. Glasser, “The Eighteen-Day Running Mate” details that 1972 “Campaign in Crisis,” which, of course, was different from the Akin situation except that the two political events resulted in wide publicity for Missouri.

Republican candidate for the U. S. Senate Akin did more than misspeak in talking to a St. Louis TV reporter. What he said certainly has hit nerves questioning his fitness to be in the Senate or the House, for that matter. Before his incredibly stupid words about women, rape and pregnancies, Akin was believed to have a good chance of unseating Democrat Claire McCaskill. Now the St. Louis conservative congressman has been asked to step aside by Republican leaders, including Mitt Romney. Former U.S. senators from Missouri and incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt have asked him to withdraw from the race for the good of the party.

Akin is standing pat, vowing not to get out of the race. He does have some grassroots, far right supporters who want him to stay in the race.

There’s an old political axiom that says voters have short memories and all may be forgotten by November. That may have been true in yesteryear. Today with the mass media we have, it will not be forgotten. And, McCaskill certainly isn’t going to let voters  forget. Candidates in yesteryear didn’t have the cash they have today to advertise. What Akin said isn’t going to die.

Of note is that it’s common knowledge that McCaskill wanted Akin to win the primary. She still wants him to stay in the race because she thinks she has a good chance of beating him in the general election. Akin has given her plenty of advertising ammunition. His voting record already had given her firing power for ads.

What we are hearing from people more than anything else is how could a sitting congressman, with vast political experience, say such dumb things. Akin’s reply to that is that high-ranking politicians constantly have to speak out publicly and they make mistakes. He has apologized for his mistake in this instance.

We agree that all politicians misspeak, even the president, but Akin’s words revealed a lack of understanding of rape. A rape is a rape, as President Obama said, and Akin put legitimate before the word which didn’t make any sense at all in the discussion on abortions.

Akin is a member of the far right. He is deeply religious and means well even if he can’t express his beliefs very well. Articulate he is not. It’s his thinking that is suspect when he tries to express his positions.

Without awaiting the outcome of the new polls on McCaskill-Akin, we believe he may have injured himself mortally. His remarks were offensive to men and women, especially the latter. Women remember. Women vote.

Both major political parties need moderates, people who listen to both sides of an issue, and will compromise without violating their basic principles and uphold our basic rights. The people want that. The political parties on all levels have been invaded by radicals — people on the far, far right and on the far, far left. Good government comes from moderates.

Where are the moderates? Why have they allowed the radicals to invade their parties?

/opinion/columns