Thursday, October 25, 2012

Todd Akin's Militia Past Exposes His Profound Radicalism

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

It seems Washington's John Koster isn't the only Republican Tea Party candidate who has ties to old far-right "Patriot"/militia organizations. Thanks to superb reporting by Josh Glastetter at RightWingWatch and Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon, we now know that Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP nominee for the Senate seat in Missouri, also has some old and deep militia connections -- mostly on behalf of some violent anti-abortion radicals with whom he was once arrested.

Akin, you see, was invited to speak at a militia gathering in 1995, and instead sent a laudatory letter that was read at the gathering. When Buzzfeed first reported this in August, Akin claimed he barely knew these people and that it was all a mishap. But Seitz-Wald dug into it further:

The full Post-Dispatch story, which was not included in the BuzzFeed story, also reported that “a flier promoting the 1995 event billed Akin as speaker.” Salon obtained the flier (view it here); it advertises a regional conference to teach participants “how to organize Missouri militias.” Akin is listed among the “special guest speakers.” How did Akin end up on the flier for the event and why did he write a gushing letter to a group he wanted nothing to do with? Further undermining his account: The only contemporaneous news report, a 1995 article not available online from The Springfield News-Leader, reported that Akin canceled because of “scheduling conflicts,” not discomfort with the militia’s leaders.

Akin’s account that he “didn’t know who they were” becomes even harder to believe in light of the news of his arrest. First, the commander of the now-defunct militia, John Moore, told Salon in August that he had known Akin long before the rally. Moore said the two had met to discuss gun-rights legislation Moore was pushing when Akin was a state representative in the later 1980s: “I’ve known Todd a long time,” he said.

Then there’s Tim Dreste, the milita’s chaplain and captain, whom Akin worked with in the pro-life movement and who, as it turns out, may even have been arrested along with him.
As Ed Kilgore says:
Now it’s not like Akin was some “idealistic” college student getting caught up in some ideological hijinks: he was in his late 30s, and was soon (in 1988) to be elected to the Missouri legislature. He was, and is, a stone fanatic on the subject, and his famous views on rape and abortion are entirely within the mainstream of “thinking” among the kind of antichoice activists who represent his political base. I’d even admire him a bit if he just came out loud ‘n’ proud right now and admitted a principal reason he’s in politics is to impose God’s Law on all the slatternly women who keep “killing their babies” by taking The Pill or using an IUD or having clinical abortions.

Truth is, the GOP’s longstanding compact with anti-choice activists and other elements of the Christian Right has politically legitimized folks who are much better suited to be marching in front of abortion clinics waving bloody fetus posters and screaming obscenities at women, than to be strolling the aisles of state legislatures or the U.S. Senate.

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