Would Spielberg Make A Movie About Claire McCaskill?
© Jack Cashill
A few weeks ago, I was asked to emcee a fund-raising dinner for Rep. Todd Akin, who is rather famously running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, the state in which I live. Although I did not hesitate to accept the invite, I found myself resisting the urge to promote the event, and my involvement in it.
The reason was simple enough. I worried about the reaction of my moderate to liberal friends and family. After scolding myself for my indecision, I went ahead and posted the details of the fundraiser on Facebook with this explanation:
I was prompted by the stirring trailer I had just seen for the new Steven Spielberg movie, Lincoln. “The fate of human dignity in our hands,” says the movie’s Lincoln about the Emancipation Proclamation. “Blood has been spilled to afford us this opportunity.”
This looks like the kind of movie Hollywood should make more of. Given Spielberg’s Democratic leanings, however, I suspect that liberals and moderates both will watch it without discomfort. They will likely wonder how “those people” who opposed slavery could be so backward in their thinking and assure themselves that they would not have been among them.
They kid themselves. “Moderates” do what they have always done, which is nothing. In one of sadder ads of recent times, Akin’s opponent, Democrat Claire McCaskill, boasts that on a liberal to conservative scale, she ranks 50 out of 100 among U. S. Senators. As the McCaskill people see it, this put their candidate squarely in the tradition of “Missouri values.” In that the state was born out of a famous “compromise,” they may have a point. The “Missouri Compromise” allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state. Such are the fruits of moderation.
Not since 1860 has the nation needed moderation less than it does in 2012. If elected, Akin will serve up none of it. With a 97 percent American Conservative Union rating and a zero rating from every known liberal group in America, Akin is refreshingly, if a bit recklessly, outspoken.
The Democrats had their sights set on Akin long before his ill-conceived remarks on rape. In a tightly contested three-way Republican primary, Missouri Democrats worked to get the Akin the nod. He probably would have won without their help, but they take credit for his victory. They got lucky with the “legitimate rape” remark—Akin is otherwise a smart, well-spoken guy—but the campaign against him would have been much the same even without that break.
For instance, consider the evolution of Akin’s comments about federal involvement in education. Said Akin in April 2012:
Predictably, a few days later, Barack Obama crudely twisted Akin’s straightforward comments. Said Obama, “ You have got one member of congress who compared these student loans, I am not kidding here, to a stage three cancer of socialism.” McCaskill ads have twisted it further, as the following excerpt suggests:
For all their spin, the Democrats cannot beat Todd Akin. Only the Republicans can do that. Romney will likely get about 55 percent of Missouri’s vote. To win, McCaskill depends on split tickets, and she will undoubtedly get some.
Akin is being seriously outspent, in no small part because the Republican establishment has turned its back on him. "We should sink Todd Akin,” the soulless Karl Rove joked to a group of affluent Republicans in Tampa this August. “If he's found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts!" Rove apologized, but he and the like-minded souls have denied Akin much-needed outside funding.
The local Republican establishment has been equally unhelpful. I drove past a swank home the other day with a lawn vast enough to accommodate six Romney-Ryan signs. It also had one big sign for McCaskill. The people who live there, like so many of their ilk, worry more about what their neighbors might think of them than they do about the future of the republic.
Even if Akin had never misspoken on Meet the Press, “respectable” Republicans might well have posted the same signs. To them, Akin just seems so Christian and extreme, so scary. They prefer conservatives of the 80 percent variety, “thoughtful” ones. The McCaskill campaign has been counting on this moral timidity, and they and their media friends have been exploiting it from day one.
None of the local swells showed up for the Akin fundraiser. When I asked the audience of about 400 to applaud if they had ever attended a Tea Party, about two-thirds did so. The Tea Party people appreciate a candidate who does not have to be lobbied to vote the right way on issues close to their heart. They know the difference between an 80 percent conservative and a 97 percent one.
Between now and November 6, our moderate friends have a chance to redeem themselves by opening up their wallets and their minds. As a mental exercise, I would ask them to project themselves back 180 years and consider how they would respond to an appeal by William Lloyd Garrison, a Christian extremist who addressed the issue of moderation in relation to the issue of slavery:
In Lincoln’s time, most members of respectable society were moderates. They abhorred abolitionists like Garrison even more than they do pro-life activists like Akin today. Our corrupt media may love them, but history does not. To spare yourself its judgment, visit http://www.akin.org.
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