We can't be too hard on that fella Todd Akin for his comments about rape and abortion: He simply found his mind unable to conceive a thought and reverted to the talking points in his pocket. He may have aborted his campaign.
That means he was trying to make a thoughtful comment about a complex issue, which is a bit over the head of the hard core right, which is his base.
Talking points are sheets of answers to questions. Whether the question is related or not, give the response on the sheet handed out by the partisan spin managers.
If you are not sure why talking points exist, think about how many times you've said to the person who shares your TV, "He didn't answer the question. Why don't they ever answer the question?"
It's called deflection. It turns candidate forums into a verbal food fight.
Watch the Sunday talk shows. Flip channels and pick up a few comments from either side -- Republican, Democrat, it doesn't matter. You will hear the same litany from the party line all morning long. See, they had a meeting and passed out talking points.
Sen. John McCain, still pretty candid, said the other day, "We have to keep the focus on our story, and stick with it."
That's our story and we're sticking with it.
If the question is, "What will your party do better than the incumbents?", the response will be, "The incumbents have had four (six, eight) years to keep their promises and they have failed. It's time for a change."
There is never any acknowledgment that one of the reasons for failure was partisan gridlock. The side that loses the election spends four years pushing back to ensure the new leaders get only one term, never mind separating good ideas from bad, or perhaps -- gag -- compromise.
It happens at the state level, too. When the Democrat Parris Glendening was governor, the Republicans did everything they could to undermine his agenda. To hell with the fact that the people elected him governor.
Then, when Bob Ehrlich was elected, the Republicans whined for four years that the Democrats would not work with the Republicans.
These wars are fought with talking points. Reporters -- good ones -- hate them. TV reporters and print slackers rely on them for quotes.
Business uses talking points, too. Oil spill choking the gulf? We are leading the world in environmental research. Medications killing people? America's health care is the best in the world.
Like that. Talking points.
Facts are too inconvenient.
Talking points are easy, and everybody has some. But if the dialog was based on facts, we'd see right away that no one has all the answers.