Fairness and Akin

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Via Commentary’s blog, I see defenses of Akin — of his continuing his campaign, that is — from Tony Perkins and Kirk Cameron. Both of them say that people are being unfair to Akin: in Cameron’s case because most people are judging him on the basis of one remark rather than his whole career, in Perkins’s case because Republicans are being tougher on him for making a gaffe than they have been on other candidates.

These defenses are quite beside the point. Like anyone else, Akin of course deserves to be treated justly. People should not criticize him more than he merits, or criticize him more than they would criticize other people who said similar things, or distort what he has said. It may well be, as Perkins has also said, that Akin is a thoroughly decent man in person. (That has been my own experience of him.) None of that means that he deserves to continue as the Republican nominee from Missouri. Those of us who take the view — the view shared by Akin, Cameron, and Perkins — that the law should protect the right to life of unborn children have an obligation to them, if we think that Akin’s staying in the race sets back that cause, to urge him to leave. And there can have been no serious doubt from Sunday onward that some other pro-lifer would have had a better shot of winning the seat.

It would be bad enough if socially conservative media figures and organization heads were unable to grasp this point. It is worse if they are not even thinking in these terms to start with.

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