Rep. Todd Akin set off a firestorm that caused the Republican establishment to immediately call for his withdrawal as the GOP's nominee for the Senate seat in the Missouri race against Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that Akin take time with his family to decide whether he should continue. Sen. John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, told Akin that the $5 million in advertising set aside for Missouri would be committed elsewhere if he remains in the race, and the Super PAC American Crossroads pulled its support.
But Akin says he's staying, despite the establishment's overt appeal that he drop out. But it remains a mystery as to who exactly is the Republican establishment.
Reasonable people of myriad political backgrounds will easily disagree with the absurdity of Akin's remarks. The notion that the female body "has ways to try to shut that whole thing (rape) down" is loony at best. And the cries of Akin pulling out would be understandable if he were an exception.
But the internal kerfuffle is based on Akin offering a Cro-Magnon explanation for a pre-Enlightenment policy. As far back as 1988, Republicans, citing various reports, have put forth the notion that the female body could alter any rape from resulting into pregnancy; ergo, if one becomes pregnant, it is not rape.
But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 32,000 pregnancies result from rape annually.
Despite calls for him to quit, it's possible that Akin can still defeat McCaskill.
The presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is leading President Barack Obama in the Missouri polls, and in our increasingly polarized political environment, voters may be reluctant to vote a split ticket.
But the ramifications of Akin's statement potentially go far beyond the Missouri Senate race.
This is not Sharron Angle advocating for "Second Amendment remedies," Christine O'Donnell declaring she is "not a witch," or former Sen. George Allen's racist "macaca" statement. This is the ugly underbelly of mainstream Republican orthodoxy.
CNN recently reported the 2012 abortion plank in the Republican platform calls for a "human life amendment" to the Constitution. Unborn children have "a fundamental individual right to life," as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, and it does not call for exceptions for rape or incest.
The language may be more genteel, but it is no different in its application than Akin's deleterious speech, which is substantiated by those ludicrous reports that suggest the female body has ways of shutting down in cases of legitimate rape.
But the GOP is now saddled with the futile attempt to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
As former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough stated in the aftermath of Akin's comments, "I'm just tired of it (Republicans) being the stupid party. I'm tired of us having stupid people saying stupid things and scaring off independent voters and swing voters."
Scarborough's observation means Akin's comments are nationalized, making it difficult for the establishment to distance itself. Moreover, Akin is under no political burden to take their advice.
Akin's base is not beholden to McConnell, Cornyn or Karl Rove. His base of support comes from portions of the Republican Party that wish to inject their strict understanding of morality into the amoral terrain of politics.
Social conservatives like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and televangelist Pat Robertson are standing with Akin.
Like Frankenstein's monster, Republicans' vision of political domination may have spiraled beyond their control.
The Republican Party is slowly becoming a two-headed beast that listens only to the melody of its own particular orthodoxy. It is the residue of a Faustian bargain where the establishment may no longer be the establishment.
Contact Byron Williams at 510-208-6417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.