The parallels between the two elections have been often cited. But one that is emerging strongly this time as last is a cultural-social issue ginned up by the incumbent party to discredit the opponent. In 2004, it was John Kerry and the "war on marriage". This time it is Mitt Romney and the "war on women." And the wedge issue is hurting him.
And there is a solid defense of Akin's staying in the race, as MoDo points out today. He said what he evidently believes and something that has been a staple on the pro-life fringe for a while. It's obvious where this myth comes from. If you are pro-life, i.e. if you hold that a newly fertilized egg just attached to the uterus has all the constitutional rights of an adult or a newborn, then an exception for rape makes no sense. I actually find that position more coherent than saying that a newly fertilized egg created by rape or incest is less of a person somehow. The sane and past Christian view is that it's a mystery when a human "person" emerges from human "life" but Aquinas figured it probably occurred in the first trimester. Abortions were still always morally wrong – but this modern neurotic fixation on full human personhood beginning at the zygote stage is absent from previous Christianity. And yes, it's a function of fundamentalism – pioneered by John Paul II and orchestrated by Benedict XVI.
This fundamentalism hasn't changed since 2004; it has merely spread and intensified as each last non-Christianist element of the GOP has been purged. Religious fanatics are very talented and interested in purging heretics, which is why, for example, Akin emerged in Missouri in the first place. This is not John Danforth's Missouri.
In 2004, this new fundamentalism could command enough mainstream discomfort to win a major victory against a tiny "sinful" minority.
In 2012, they're still trying to keep this minority in its place but public opinion has changed dramatically against them. (Support for marriage equality was at only 32 percent in 2004, compared with 47 percent now in the Pew poll). But now, the crusade is inevitably focused on women, because of renewed opposition to contraception among Christianists – the popular front between evangelicals and Ratzingerian Catholics made this essential – and, of course, abortion.
There is a difference between a culture war where you have majority support and are persecuting a minority of around 2 percent of the population … and a culture war where you have very little non-Christianist support (and shock among those not exposed to what is mainstream thought in the GOP base) and are targeting more than half the population.
Karma, as they say …