There’s a bit of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in all of us.  There seems to be a fascination with trying to catch something.  I can recall my younger days when there was a fascination with trying to catch insects.  Then there grew an attraction for trying to catch something a bit smarter.  I remember propping a wooden crate up on a stick and leading a string to my hiding spot in hopes something would be lured to my bait and with a yank the prey would be mine.

The media and politicians are much like that of a child hiding in the shadows waiting for their prey to make a mistake.  When the time’s right the trap’s sprung on those least expecting it.  The visual is a defining parable for a gotcha moment.

A gotcha moment was when Joe Biden said: “They’ll put you back in chains.”  When Barack Obama made the claim “You didn’t build that” his opponents yanked hard on that string of opportunity.  The Republicans even built a theme for their national convention upon that gotcha moment.  They titled it: “We built it.”

It was a gotcha moment just lying in wait a few weeks ago when the Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin, a tea party favorite, made a controversial comment about rape.  It wasn’t only the media and Democrats who pounced on Mr. Akin; it was his own party who leaned on him most.

In an interview, Akin made the claim: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

The proverbial trap was sprung on a single word, “Legitimate.”

Senator John Cornyn, head of the Senate GOP campaign arm, told Akin his campaign funds would be withdrawn.  Mitch McConnell said Akin’s comment was “totally inexcusable.”  Scott Brown tweeted “outrageous” when he heard about the comment.  Virginia Senate candidate George Allen and Montana Senate candidate Denny Rehberg also joined in on the rebuke.  Mitt Romney handed down a similar verdict.

Republicans isolated Todd Akin amidst concern he’ll hurt their chances of winning control of the Senate, even though Akin was duly elected by the people of Missouri.

Akin has resisted calls to withdraw from the race and has said: “I believe we can win this,” citing tremendous support even though the Republican establishment has shunned him.

There’s not much the Republican Party Bosses can do about Akin’s defiance though.

Akin, a Christian, said he “misspoke” and released an ad pleading for forgiveness from the voters.  In the ad, Akin addressed the controversy by saying: “Rape is an evil act.  I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize.  As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators.  I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault.  And I pray for them.  The fact is rape can lead to pregnancy.  The truth is rape has many victims.  The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold.  I ask for forgiveness.”

Ironically, the Republican platform committee has approved a plank calling for an amendment to outlaw abortion, without an exception for rape or incest.

Akin also said in a statement he believes “deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”

Although I don’t agree with the stance of the Democrats, I’m not warm to the antics of the Republicans either.  Republicans claim to be a party of pro-life, but it would appear the powerbrokers are willing to kill the unborn in certain instances to gain a moderate woman’s vote.

Comic George Carlin so adequately said: “By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.”

At least Democrats don’t cannibalize their own – I can’t say that for Republicans.

Republicans would be best suited if they kept quiet, for they come across as being more concerned about control of the purse strings and power.  The American people are a forgiving bunch and Mr. Akin has asked for their forgiveness.  Besides, no one likes a bully and we tend to side with the picked on.  We’ve all made regrettable mistakes and if the Republican Party wants to win over the hearts of Americans, they need to shed that brand of unforgiveness.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org.

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