Here I am on a chilly but pretty Saturday morning, catching up on the morning news and minding my own business, when some state Republican official, of whom I’ve never heard, said something unbelievably stupid about rape.
Another day, another Republican making an ill-advised comment about rape. Celeste Greig, the head of the largest GOP volunteer organization in California — Ronald Reagan once called the California Republican Assembly “the conscience of the Republican Party — told the Woodland, California Daily Democrat that rape almost never leads to pregnancies because the body is too traumatized.
“Granted, the percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it’s an act of violence, because the body is traumatized. I don’t know what percentage of pregnancies are due to the violence of rape. Because of the trauma the body goes through,” she told the newspaper before arriving at the state GOP’s spring convention in Sacramento.
This, of course, ruined my entire day. It reduced me to all-caps, rage-fisty tweets and a melodramatic plea for mercy-killing. I was far from alone in my grief and rage. Conservatives leaped to Twitter to join me in my demand that a Republican who lives thousands of miles away from me and whose name I had never seen until this morning stop ruining everything for me. Furthermore, I demanded that all Republicans immediately report to “Never Talk About Rape” training immediately even though 99.999 percent of all elected Republicans respond to gotcha questions about rape and Todd Akin pretty much exactly the way I would.
I don’t understand why Republicans immediately throw on their hair-shirts and roll in the cinders every time another Republican says something stupid. Democrats don’t do this, not when a sitting state legislator says women are too emotional to use a gun to protect themselves from a would-be rapist or tells an under-aged girl that he has a “snake” under his desk she can check out. Mind you, neither instance happened in an interview, when a politician (or anyone, for that matter) can be taken unawares by a question. They happened when the legislators had all the time in the world to think about what they wanted to say. You heard nary a peep from Democrats. No panic. No anguish. Nothing. Heck, Joe Biden, who drops gaffes like David Guetta drops sick beats, barely gets a rumble of public discontent from his fellow Democrats. Were he a Republican, we’d have mass stroke-outs every day. Twitter would explode. Blogs would melt down. It’d be an online apocalypse.
What’s the difference between the way left and right react to the stupid things their politicians say? Well, for one, the left remembers something very important about their politicians — they’re human beings. Politicians are, as a group, no more intelligent nor glib than you or I. They are people and people occasionally say crazy, stupid things. Unfortunately, politicians spend a whole lot more time in front of recording and/or broadcasting devices than you or I, so the stupid things they say get spread around more than our various boneheaded thoughts. When a Democrat says something dumb, they shrug it off and keep on going.
One other thing Democrats remember is that they’re not obliged to defend everything the other members of their party say. You can flip that around to say no one person speaks for every member of the party as if every elected official is a Pope, bestowed with the power to speak for every Democrat on every issue. The left takes the best of both worlds — they own the great things their politicians say and walk away from the bad things that too often drop from their lips.
Why can’t we on the right do the same? When the next Republican says something cringe-worthy about rape (and, trust me, it will happen), and the left swarms around us and asks “Well, what about that? Do you agree with it? Aren’t you the Party of Rape?”, we ought to say “No, moron. We aren’t the party of rape, I don’t agree with what that chowderhead said, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for trying to tag me with the dumb thing some person I’ve never heard of said”. That’s not so tough, is it? The choice to own the stupidity is ours. We don’t have to if we don’t choose to. So let’s knock off the histrionics and do what our Democrat friends do: shrug then attack.