Just Like Poor Joe McCarthy

Think it’s another mid-summer slow news day? Think again, because today marks the release of (here come four words I never thought I’d write) Todd Akin’s new book, Firing Back.

Now that the book is out, I can finally answer the question in everyone’s mind: Who would give Todd Akin a book deal? Turns out it’s WND Books, a subsidiary of World Net Daily, the publication that made birtherism ubiquitous if not hip. Maybe I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem the publisher is setting up this particular author to any sort of book tour; he appeared to have celebrated the release day with a 15-minute phone interview with his home-town newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in which he compared himself to Joseph McCarthy as a victim of “media assassination.” Seriously.

Now endless whining about victimization has become a cottage industry on the political and cultural Right in recent years. But picking Joe McCarthy as a fellow-martyr is a mite strange, insofar as Joe wasn’t exactly minding his own business and just expressing his opinions when he got himself into political trouble. Then again, people like Akin seem to have all kinds of problems understanding that advocating laws aimed at controlling other people’s reproductive organs is sometimes interpreted as an act of aggression rather than a mild exercise of First Amendment rights. Presumably had Akin been elected to the Senate and somehow succeeded in enacting legislation reflecting his views on abortion, he’d whine about willful media misinterpretation of his reasons for forcing rape victims to carry pregnancies to term.

In any event, I’m going to give Akin’s book a pass, and wait for the movie.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.