In a local television interview, Hillsborough County (New Hampshire) sheriff candidate Frank Szabo said that he values the life of an unborn fetus so much that, when it came to elective and late-term abortions, he’d be willing to kill for it:
But Szabo may have inflamed the issue further when asked if he would use deadly force to prevent an abortion.
“I would respond specifically by saying that if someone is under threat, a full-grown human being, if they’re under threat, what should the sheriff do? Everything in their power to prevent them from being harmed,” he said.
When pressed about what he would do if he learned that a doctor was about to perform an elective abortion, Szabo replied he would do what it took to prevent that from happening.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Well, I would hope that it wouldn’t come to that, as with any situation where someone is in danger, but again, specifically talking about elective abortions and late-term abortions, that is an act that needs to be stopped.”
As with the Todd Akin scandal, Republicans are distancing themselves from the candidate. But can they really disown the logic here? To an extent, Akin's thinking was entirely logical, given the premises he believes. No, not the whole built-in anti-rape birth control thing, but the idea that abortion is an evil even in cases of rape or incest. If a fetus is a person and abortion is murder, then why should the circumstance of conception make any difference? Why should a "child" be punished for the acts of their father?
Akin is not outside the Republican mainstream -- as Mitt Romney's running mate Paul Ryan so handily demonstrates. As with Akin's, Szabo's sin isn't in holding his position, but in drawing attention to it. While shooting abortion doctors may not be within the mainstream of GOP thought, the arguments that makes it an entirely logical position to hold are. As they try to cast people like Szabo as a lone nutjob, they write the argument that abortion is literally murder into their party platform. Until they get their own arguments back into reality with the rest of us, they're going to continue to have people following their reasoning and losing their damned minds in the process -- oh look, there's another one now.
"If you want to marginalize pols like Todd Akin, don't keep saying you are absolutely certain that as a matter of divine, natural and constitutional law, human life begins at conception," writes Ed Kilgore. In other words, don't try to have your cake and eat it too. If you don't want people to come to insane conclusions, don't set up irrational logical equations that lead directly to those conclusions.
Republicans can try to distance themselves from Akin and Szabo all they want, but the party is guaranteed to keep producing them -- and that puts the GOP brand on political crazies.