Todd Akin Legitimate Rape Comment Apology: Damage Control May Not Save Akin

Besieged by the backlash from both sides of the aisle for his comments about “legitimate rape”, Missouri Congressman Todd Akin has issued a video apology for his remarks. 

The statement, which shows what appears to be a humbled and sincere Akin nestled in the comfortable confines of his home, stands out for its directness. In it, Akin states he, “used the wrong words in the wrong way,” and it concludes with the Congressman asking the general public for its forgiveness.

Supporters of the Senatorial candidate will point to the mea culpa as the righting of a wrong, the admission of guilt by a politician who misspoke during an interview. Opponents of Mr. Akin will undoubtedly dismiss the apology as a public relations necessity, and a last-gasp effort to win back the good graces of the Republican Party — which has kept Mr. Akin at arm’s length since his comments.

The larger question is, will his public apology be effective in helping undo the damage to his campaign? In the current climate of instantaneous news, sound bite manipulation, and us versus them politics, is it possible for a candidate to recover from what some view as a fatal campaign misstep? 

Has the general public grown immune to scripted apologies from politicians, athletes, and celebrities alike? Can sincerity and perspective prevail over the large shadow of cynicism and distrust that is cast by the American people?

Those questions will be answered in November when voters in Missouri go to the polls to elect their Senator (unless, of course, Mr. Akin bows to the political pressure from within his party and withdraws from the race). 

Unfortunately for him, whether or not Congressman Akin’s apology is “legitimate” doesn’t matter. The story of the congressman’s comments will continue to serve as ammunition for Democrats and Liberals as they position the GOP as not friendly to women and women’s issues.  

For the right, Akin’s quote serves as a distraction at the most inopportune time as the Republican National Convention gets underway in Tampa, Florida. Either way, Todd Akin has been left on an island by himself with only his radioactive comments to keep him company.