Is There Life After Campaign Blunders Like "Legitimate Rape?" Ask Clayton Williams

It looks like the epitaph of Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's political aspirations are written in a Sunday morning interview on a Fox affiliate in St. Louis. The staunchly anti-abortion, GOP Senate candidate said women rarely get pregnant from rape, a misconception repeatedly disproved in medical research. Instead of stopping there, however, he excavated a deeper hole for himself by inventing some kind of biological response to sexual assault -- a kind of gynecological goalkeeper, if you will -- which defends against the resulting fertilization of an unwanted sexual encounter.

"If it's a legitimate rape," he said, "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

The implication being, if she wants it, even just a little, she's more likely to get pregnant. Thus, the rape is illegitimate, I guess? Wait...no. Never mind. The point is, what he said is fucking dumb. Research demonstrates the exact opposite of this oft-debunked theory.

Now Akin's buttocks tremble at the impact of each paddling administered behind the woodshed, not just by Democrats but by presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Sen. John Cornyn, chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, asked Akin to "carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service." Sounds like an entreaty to drop out to me. Everybody's scrambling to distance themselves from this guy, and now Republicans are wondering if Sen. Claire McCaskill will pull an Ann Richards on Akins, upending their plans to unseat her.

What do I mean by "an Ann Richards?"

Back in 1990, when Richards was the State Treasurer and the Democratic nominee in a gubernatorial run-off against a salty Midland wildcatter named Clayton Williams, it looked like she was going to get whupped. Or it did until Williams, a group of campaign workers, and reporters prepared for a cattle round-up on his ranch one cold, foggy day in March. Eyeing the weather, he opined that it was kinda like rape.

''If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it," he quipped, according to the AP. I can see the blanching faces of his campaign workers now.

Richards, like McCaskill, pounced, of course. The remark ''questions his ability to understand the kinds of problems faced by the people of Texas,'' Richards said. ''Rape is a crime of violence.''

Williams had outspent Richards 2-to-1. At one point he led her by 20 points in the polls. But his rape simile proved insurmountable. He lost to Richards by two points -- a close 100,000 votes. Nearly 20 years later, his name was still so toxic GOP presidential hopeful John McCain canceled a fundraiser hosted by Williams. You can bet the GOP is looking at this Texas upset and wondering if they didn't just hand McCaskill a Richards-style win.

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