“Well, I shouldn’t have said the five or so words that I said, but my inartful use of those few words doesn’t change who I am, what I’ve stood for my entire life, what I stand for today.”
Who uttered those words?
It could have been anyone in public life, I suppose.
Far too often today careers and reputations are ruined because of a few inartfully expressed words.
But what would be your guess about who said this?
Was it someone who has been vilified for saying something dreadful – something that resulted in real hurt to others? Or was it said by someone who had been trying to make himself or herself more sympathetic in the public’s mind?
If presented with just that one sentence and no other context, my guess about who made that statement would have been Todd Akin.
Todd Akin was the target of a lynching by the media and political establishment for five or six words – maybe fewer. It probably cost him a U.S. Senate seat in 2012. It cost him a reputation he had built over a lifetime, including six terms in the U.S. Congress.
His name has become a byword, a punch line, ever since.
But it wasn’t Todd Akin who made the statement above.
It was Hillary Clinton.
That’s what she said in a PBS interview last week with Gwen Ifill in explaining a genuine gaffe from a previous interview.
I’m not even willing to concede Akin made a gaffe at all in his famous interview in August 2012. Initially I believed so – before I watched it. I was judging Akin on the basis of what others said he said. After watching it over and over again, I’m truly shocked that so much was made of it.
I invite you to watch the relevant part of that interview in context – probably for the first time.
It was clear to any objective, thinking person what he was saying. He was not questioning that "rape is rape," as Barack Obama said in a hastily called press conference the next day. He never suggested that rape victims don't ever get pregnant, as some headlines charged.
But Akin was skewered and broiled by Democratic activists, the press and, finally, adding injury to insult, by many in his own party – including Karl Rove and Mitt Romney.
Is there a double standard when it comes to inartfully phrased comments by Democrats and Republicans? You bet there is. The media virtually ignore the Democratic blunders, and they magnify and blow out of all proportion the inartfully expressed statements by Republicans. What's worse, Republicans, unlike Democrats, shoot their wounded.
That's why I chose to publish Todd Akin's story – "Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom."
What I found in Todd Akin was an exceedingly decent man – humble, committed, faithful, principled. He is quite unlike any other politician I have ever met – maybe because he is not a politician at all, but a throwback to the kind of citizen-legislator our founders envisioned for America.
You'll be seeing much more of Todd Akin in the days to come.
He held his peace following the 2012 election.
He hasn't given any interviews since then. He hasn't spoken before cameras for 18 months. But he will be doing so frequently in the days ahead.
Most Americans haven't really met him before. They haven't seen him speak from the heart. They haven't heard him explain his love for America and liberty.
Prepare to be shocked to learn that he is not some brutish cartoon figure.
He was a victim of the worst form of character assassination and political correctness run amok.
It's time to give Todd Akin a break.
Because any one of us who speaks out in defense of freedom could be the next wounded warrior to be left bleeding on the political battlefield.
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