Let's Be Real: George Romney Once Misspoke, Todd Akin Didn't
In 1967 presidential candidate George Romney, father of Mitt and then-governor of Michigan, explained why he changed his mind on the Vietnam War during a tv interview with Lou Gordon.
The elder Romney offered an honest, thoughtful, and nuanced perspective. In doing so he explained that American military and political leaders in Saigon had deliberately misled him about the war during a 1965 visit. In the intervening years, he had come to realize that the reality in Vietnam was not what he had been led to believe.
Unfortunately, George Romney misspoke. That is, he said something in a way that accidently led people to misunderstand his point.
Romney told Gordon he received a “brainwashing” while in Vietnam, an off-the-cuff and not-at-all-literal explanation of the military-industrial complex’s Vietnam con job.
Brainwashing is all that most people heard. Hahaha, that George Romney must be crazy! He thinks he was brainwashed like Raymond Shaw in the Manchurian Candidate! Maybe he’s like to play a game of solitaire! Larfs.
Only Romney wasn’t crazy. His (ahem) apology for his previous Vietnam support was a significant and early clarion call against the war. History proved George Romney was right. As anyone with even a superficial understanding of the Pentagon Papers now knows, Americans were being lied to about Vietnam. If George Romney had said he had been deceived or lied to or conned, his statement would not have substantively changed but it would have been better received.
Which brings us to Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri Todd Akin.
Akin says he also misspoke when he said women who are “legitimately raped” never get pregnant, as opposed to the illegitimate rape victims who apparently (at least in Akin’s twisted mind) must really kinda want it.
Akin's comments were not a misstatement in any way. He did not use unfortunate phrasing, get someone's first name wrong, or misstate some inconsequential detail. He asserted something as a medical fact—the real rape victims don’t get pregnant—that is as unfactual as saying Paris is the capital of Germany.
This canard that true rape victims (as opposed to those Dominique Francon-like teases who lure men into engaging in forcible intercourse) can't get pregnant has been thoroughly disproven. For one thing, there are no subcategories of rape victims. If a person if forced to engage in sex that they didn’t consent to or are unable to consent to, then it’s rape. Always and without qualifier. For another, thousands of rape victims are impregnated every year.
Akin’s comments amount to a lie, told either out of willful ignorance or a deliberate desire to misinform the public. Given that Akin initially cited unnamed medical experts to back-up his claim, it’s reasonable to believe Akin’s lie was deliberate. Or maybe he just gets his medical advice from a homeopathic witchdoctor who flunked out of chiropractic school.
When Akin realized the consequences of his stupidity, he floated this “I misspoke” garbage in the hopes if could get him off the hook. Had he used the famously redundant term “forcible rape” instead of “legitimate rape,” Akin’s statement would have been no less daffy, offensive, or empirically wrong.
Hopefully, Missouri voters in 2012 can recognize the difference between (pun intended) “legitimate” poor phrasing and an indefensibly false statement by a reckless person, ill-equipped for public office.