I like Phil Gingrey. I consider him one of the good guys in Congress and one of the most accessible. But I was drop-jawed when I read reporter Jon Gillooly’s account in the Marietta Daily Journal last week in which the Congressman saw fit to tell a Cobb Chamber breakfast in Smyrna that former Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, who blew a sure seat in the U.S. Senate was “partly right” when he asserted that women’s bodies can avoid pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”
Gingrey told the group, “What he (Akin) meant by ‘legitimate rape’ was just, look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said ‘legitimate rape’ versus ‘non-legitimate rape.’ I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that.”
Gingrey, who has been an OB/GYN for almost 40 years, continued, “I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak.”
About Richard Mourdock, a state official who lost a U.S. Senate seat in Indiana many thought he should have won, Gingrey said, “Mourdock basically said ‘Look, if there is conception in the aftermath of a rape, that’s still a child, and it’s a child of God, essentially.’ Now, in Indiana, that cost him the election.”
Why is the Congressman telling us these things? Who gives a rat’s bottom what Todd Akin meant to say in Missouri or Richard Mourdock in Indiana? They lost their elections. They are history. Their horse has left their barn.
Since he brought the topic up for public discussion, let me give Dr. Gingrey and the rest of you one white male’s perspective on rape. Rape is rape. Please don’t give me this abstract blather about “legitimate rape” versus “non-legitimate rape” or what a couple of losers meant to say about a female’s worst nightmare, as though they would know. I am getting very tired of these academic discussions and would strongly suggest that we white guys shut our yaps until we get raped ourselves and then let’s see how “legitimate” that feels.
My friend says his remarks were “misconstrued” and that he was only trying to “provide context” as to what he presumed Murdock and Akin meant to say. As a result, the congressman finds himself in a position of having to clarify what he was really trying to say about what two politicians that we are not likely to hear about ever again were trying to say. Good grief.
Had he asked, I would have told Gingrey not to say anything — not one word — that he is not willing to see in the newspapers. If you say it, stand by it. Don’t get into the position of having to go back and explain yourself. George Will once said that when you have to explain what you said, you have already lost your argument.
I suspect that what happened to Gingrey is that he got a temporary case of “Potomac Fever.” It happens. Being a member of Congress is pretty heady stuff and it is hard not to come home and try to impress the locals with the 50,000-foot view of the world.
He can’t blame anyone for being misconstrued and for trying to provide context. He can only blame himself for getting into an area where he didn’t need to go. He should kick his staff in the derrière for not giving him some talking points and insisting he stick to them.
Congressman Phil Gingrey is treating a needlessly self-inflicted wound. Physician, heal thyself and see if you can get your horse back in the barn.