Will “Akin” Become a Verb?

Michael S. Pappas

The Man from Flyover Country

From the desk of The Man from Flyover Country

We have become so accustomed to political situations being referred to as verbs, we now sort of expect it. Remember Robert Bork, who was maligned in his bid to join the Supreme Court? Such treatment was referred to as being “Borked”. How about the Swift Boat servicemen and their attack on presidential candidate John Kerry, who, as Rush Limbaugh points out at each opportunity, served in Vietnam? He was “Swift Boated”. And of course we all know about that familiar word that starts with “f” and end with “k”, and no, it’s not firetruck. That word, many a comedian will be quick to point out, can be a verb, an adjective, an adverb, a noun, a gerund, and God knows what else in its several iterations.

So, courtesy of a Republican candidate for Senate from Missouri, do we now have a new verb to use in the political wars? Is a candidate who verbally steps on his tie and ignores pleas from his party as well as the masses to step down now called being “Akin’ed”?

Hey, don’t think I take this lightly – he represented my district when he was in the House.

Let’s look at the last several decades of political history. Only in this time period has the righteous indignation of individuals or groups bent on “political correctness” brought demands of resignation on politicians who said dumb things. Before, can anyone remember such demands? Or were politicians just smarter, not needing to open their mouths wide enough to insert their feet? Should one stupid statement warrant stepping down? What about the rest of the package?

There are several ways to look at this. One, if the guy (or gal – let’s be equal here!) is stupid enough to say things that get him into hot water during a campaign, what does that say for decisions he will make or stances he will verbalize going forward? Was it so crucial a topic that Akin had to address it in the fashion that he did? Could he not think on his feet quickly enough to say something innocuous enough that the interview could move on? Does he not, after years of political life, have the moxie to handle such a question?

Another way to look at it is in the context of the free market (a concept, by the way, that will be referred to with consistency in this column). The free market says that if you don’t want to buy something, you don’t have to. If you think Akin will serve well, despite his munching on shoe leather, then you will have no problem voting for him. If on the other hand you think it’s a tragic flaw, you won’t. Let’s be realistic – some will not vote for Akin no matter what, some will no matter what, and at the end of the day, it’s everyone else that are the real issue. So, if the Missouri Senate seat is important, and most believe it is, is the Republican party being “Akin’ed” if he stays in the race, only to lose to a woman whom every poll had so far behind not only Akin but the other two major candidates in the primary that it was as close to a foregone conclusion as could be that the seat was going to go to the GOP?

What we have here, and this is not party-specific, is the ambition of one person overriding public sentiment and party sentiment. True, there are some who don’t care, they’re in for Todd Akin. But the larger picture is how it may play nationally, and if it may hurt the GOP elsewhere in a “guilt by association” fashion. If a party, either one, actually, is trying to advance its ideology, it must first win. “Party” connotes a team. One person cannot do it alone. One person can, however, become toxic to the team effort. In sports, when a bad clubhouse or field influence is removed from the team, it’s called “addition by subtraction”. The team profits because of the removal of the negative influence. Is Akin’s conservatism, which otherwise is admirable for the Republican cause, enough to overcome the potential drag he could very well cause his team both in Missouri and nationally? If he stays in, that is the real question, and we will never know until it’s too late to do anything about it.

Todd Akin has served admirably in politics up to now; I take nothing away from him on this score. He wants to serve more; I get that. As he is in his sixties, this is viewed as his last chance politically. I get that. But I also get that there is a larger picture here. Although he cares about his political career, I really don’t, but rather I’m more concerned about the country. Isn’t that more important than one guy?

Perhaps some politicians will win no matter what, so they can get away with whatever gaffe comes tumbling out of their mouths. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin comes famously to mind with his “chocolate” statement several years ago. He could have dropped trou and mooned the next hurricane and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Here, it’s not the case.

Politics is so messy and the ideologies of the two major parties so far apart that any misstep, no matter how small, could change national policy for years. It would be somewhere between a shame and a crime if by the morning after the election, we will be considering ourselves “Akin’ed”.

[Editor’s Note: Mike’s been away for awhile due to business and time constraints. Please welcome him back to our blog. He’ll be providing political commentary from time to time. Please feel free to address questions, comments, or brickbats to him and he’ll answer them.]


  1. Lil Ole Housewife says

    SOmeone or another wrote:

    Todd Akin has served admirably in politics up to now; I take nothing away from him on this score. He wants to serve more; I get that. As he is in his sixties, this is viewed as his last chance politically. I get that. But I also get that there is a larger picture here.

    Green Party vice presidential candidate visits Tampa

    By Caitlin Johnston, Times Staff Writer
    In Print: Saturday, August 11, 2012



    Is the loss of Metropolitan Jonah off your radar? Our Holy Synod? The Path to Theosis? Orthodoxy?

  2. geo michalopulos says

    Hardly. This saga is far from over.

  3. The guy kicked his tonsils. Sometimes it’s the right place at the right time and it lives on in imfamy. Get over it. It’s a far cry from maliciously taking someones words out of context, such as Obama’s “…you didn’t build that…” or, just a revelation away from supporting gay marriage Romney’s “…I like firing people…”

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Andreas speaks of “maliciously taking someones words out of context, such as Obama’s ‘…you didn’t build that…’”

      I don’t know about malice, but the context of President Obama’s unfortunate remark is both accessible and clear.

      He meant the comment exactly as his opponents claim he meant it.

      • Your right, a transcript is availible. If you read the transcript and listen to the speach your statement is incorrect. However if you read the “transcript” expounded by entertainers such as O’Reily or Limbaugh you will get a distorted impression. You may not like Obama but at least show some decency and dispense with right wing propaganda.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          “Show some decency,” indeed.

          You dare to give such counsel after associating my name with the likes of Limbaugh and O’Reilly. Shame on you!