Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill might not always go after the GOP with the volume or fire of a tweet master like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but her sassiness is nonetheless a national treasure and it’s important that we give it its due. It was on full display Thursday when McCaskill announced on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that she had found “the perfect vice president for Donald Trump.” The lucky man? Her erstwhile political rival, former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin.
"I will tell you, I've got a great idea that I thought about last night. I figured out who Donald Trump's vice president should be,” McCaskill said gleefully. "At least he learned how to apologize, he's got political experience ... that would be Todd Akin."
As you probably recall, Akin is almost singularly known for his highly scientific 2012 assertion that it’s nearly impossible for a “legitimate rape” to result in pregnancy. In addition to feeding into one of the most harmful fallacies of rape culture — that some rapes are more “real” than others — Akin also revealed himself to be a grown man who apparently believes that sperm has to pass some sort of emotional litmus test in order to be viable. It was a bad day for women and basic biology.
Sure, it was a joke when McCaskill mentioned Akin (“Ohhhhh, you are very naughty,” reprimanded Mika Brzezinski). But some officials in the GOP promote policies that are sexist and racist — look at Ohio Gov. John Kasich doing his best to defund Planned Parenthood, or the double-whammy of sexism and racism in the PRENDA bill, Congressional legislation that would have banned abortions based on race and could have potentially impeded women of color from choosing to have abortions for any reason. Meanwhile, they don’t want to have to confront sexism and racism. In this party that has allowed Trump to rise, Akin would be an “officially” unpalatable, but actually rather fitting, Trump VP.
Despite all the criticism that Trump received from Republicans for his comments about Gonzalo Curiel, the judge in the Trump University lawsuit, being unfit to oversee the case because he's "Mexican" (he was born in Indiana) — including having his remark called the "textbook definition of racism" by Paul Ryan — few have actually rescinded their support for Trump. Sure, Sen. Mark Kirk may have withdrawn his endorsement, but he is a big exception.
Akin is an ignorant, bigoted man. He torpedoed his career by making the kind of comment that wasn't so far from Trump's quote on how there should be "some form of punishment" for women seeking illegal abortions. Yes, Trump walked back from that statement — after a massive media and pro-life backlash. Akin didn't get away with his rhetoric, either because he simply doesn’t have Trump’s cache with disillusioned voters (no one really does) or because the world used to be a place where if you said something like that, there were consequences. But now that Trump’s changed that game — at least as it applies to him — we live in a nation where I honestly don't think a comment about “legitimate rape” is enough to lose the support of the GOP.
Now that Trump is the presumptive nominee, he probably won’t choose someone like Akin — rape comments aside, the man just wouldn’t bring much to the table — but Trump has shown there are few thing he can't get away with saying or proposing that will lose him the support for the GOP.
So it’s a joke, sure. But not really.