Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) got himself in hot water during an interview with a local St. Louis TV station earlier this week by using the term "legitimate rape" and by suggesting that the female body has the capacity to reject a rape-induced pregnancy. The interview created an uproar that has jeopardized his chances of winning the Missouri Senate seat he's currently running for -- a race he had a good chance of winning thanks to his opponent Claire McCaskill's own missteps in recent years. Never mind the progressives, principals in his own party are calling for him to get out of the race.
At the same time Akin is vacating his congressional seat. The senate and congressional races are in phase for him this year and there's another Republican, Ann Wagner, running behind him. (And she's raised a bunch of money so far too.)
So it's safe to say the House Armed Services Committee is losing the current Sea Power subcommittee chairman -- a title that Akin currently holds. In turn, it may turn out that the Senate doesn't gain a defense supporter -- "Mr. F-18" as Akin is known in some circles. (He even has an "Aces for Akin" theme happening on his election site.) So how does that shift in power play out in a time of sequestration-level pressure on DoD?
As Akin's opening statement during 2012 NDAA testimony illustrates, the services most at risk without him on the Hill are the Navy and the Air Force. Akin's main defense company is Boeing, therefore he's a key player in the "use Hornets to fill the void made by JSF IOC sliding ever to the right" discussion. His love of Hornets makes him a de facto proponent of carrier aviation, which underwrites the future of carrier shipbuilding and all the infrastructure associated with that enterprise. He also wants the Air Force to move on the next generaton bomber and believes nuke subs are not relics of Tom Clancy novels written 30 years ago.
So a clunky, insulting pro-life stance might eventually affect defense budget priorities and the magnitude of cuts. And you thought Don't Ask Don't Tell was the only social issue that might impact the military this year.