So Todd Akin, the senatorial candidate in Missouri, has made a commercial apologizing for his remarks on rape and pregnancy on Sunday. ”Rape is an evil act,” he says. “I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them. The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”
One has reason to think this apology is disingenuous. For one thing, it’s doubtful he would have issued it had the video of him discoursing on “legitimate rape” and the mystical ability of a woman’s body to repel a rapist’s seed not become a subject of controversy. For another, as always with politicians, what tells is the phrasing. “The mistake was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold” places the blame for his error on “the words,” as though the words were somehow separate from him. Whereas “the heart I hold” is intrinsic to him, and therefore to be taken more seriously (and by the way, who exactly “holds” a heart?).