Perception in politics sometimes becomes reality.
I’ll give you an example.
They say Claire McCaskill won her U.S. Senate seat in Missouri because her Republican opponent, Todd Akin, self-destructed in a local TV interview, exposing himself as some kind of anti-woman defender of rape.
That’s the perception many Americans have of what happened in that race, thanks to the media sensationalism and distortion, the piling on by Democrats nationwide and the willing capitulation of GOP party bosses like Karl Rove.
But how many Americans have actually bothered to view the actual interview and, particularly, the relevant minute or two in context?
I must admit, even I didn’t do that until very recently. It turns out, the anti-Akin hysteria was a completely manufactured smear. The veteran interviewer surely didn’t see a controversy in Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment – moving on to another line of questioning as soon as the congressman completed his answer.
It was the phrase "legitimate rape" that captured the attention of his opponents and the media. Why? I suppose some would like to pretend that all rape allegations are legitimate. Of course, that kind of thinking can lead to some great injustices, as we saw in the Duke lacrosse team witch hunt. Of even more significance, given the Akin controversy had to do with his explanation of why aborting an innocent unborn baby is not an appropriate response to rape, Norma McCorvey, the "Roe" in the famous Roe v. Wade case that resulted in the Supreme Court's decision to strike down laws restricting abortion across the U.S., had claimed she was raped. Only later did she admit that was a completely contrived claim.
So there are rape claims that are not legitimate. That was Akin's only point.
Not only did the firestorm of criticism that followed Akin's interview ensure his defeat, it led to the elevation of Claire McCaskill as a U.S. senator – now with ambitions for national office.
But Claire McCaskill made a statement recently that I find to be far more questionable and far more repugnant than anything Akin said during the 2012 campaign.
Arising as one of the very few Democrats to defend Barack Obama's unilateral decision to trade five Taliban commanders, mass murderers all, for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a deserter and suspected collaborator with the terrorists, McCaskill said the following: "We saved this man's life. The commander in chief acted within his constitutional authority, which he should have done. I'm very proud that we have no POWs left in Afghanistan, and the president should be proud of it also."
What's so shocking about this statement is its complete distortion of the truth and its brazen disregard for reality. How could a U.S. senator get so much wrong in such a brief statement?
- There is no evidence that Bergdahl's life was saved through this deal. He had been with the Taliban for five years. Though the Taliban had used Bergdahl as a bargaining chip for the release of their murderous colleagues held at Guantanamo Bay, there is no evidence to suggest they ever wanted to kill him.
- Far from acting with constitutional authority, Obama broke the law that required him to confer with Congress before making the deal. Administration officials had repeatedly acknowledged the law and repeatedly reassured members of Congress they would seek their approval before moving forward. Congress had twice unanimously rejected the swap.
- Bergdahl was not technically a prisoner of war. He went over the hill. There are strong allegations and evidence he gave aid and comfort to the enemy. He abandoned his post, leaving his comrades open to attack. His fellow soldiers strongly suspect he provided intel to the Taliban that resulted in successful attacks on his base. And somewhere between six and 14 – maybe more – U.S. soldiers were killed in efforts to rescue Bergdahl after his defection.
Yet, McCaskill says she is "proud" of this action.
She stands virtually alone even among her Democratic colleagues in defending the indefensible.
To this day, the media like to refer to any gaffe as a "Todd Akin moment."
Why isn't her stupidity and callous disregard for the facts being referred to as a "Claire McCaskill moment"?
You tell me – which is the bigger gaffe?
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