Comment on familiar subject places another Senate pick-up in jeopardy

Richard Mourdock, a Republican, is locked in a tight Senate race in Indiana with Democrat Joe Donnelly to replace Richard Lugar, whom Mourdock defeated during the primary season. Although Mourdock hasn’t been able to pull away, he appears to be leading by about 5 points.

In his debate tonight against Donnelly, however, Mourdock may have opened the door for Donnelly in basically the same way that Todd Akin did for Claire McCaskill in Missouri — by saying more than was necessary, and more than what was good for him, on the subject of pregnancy that results from rape. Here is what Mourdock said:

I struggled with it [the idea of abortion in case of rape] myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.

Naturally, Donnelly pounced:

The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen — ever. What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.

Mourdock tried to clarify:

God creates life, and that was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that he does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick.

Unlike Todd Akin, Mourdock was not invoking bad science to justify his stance against abortion for rape victims. Instead he relied on theology, which is where I think a serious defense of his stance probably must rest.

But Mourdock’s comment may carry the same kind of peril to his electoral prospects that Akin’s did. To me, it is shocking that, surely aware of Akin’s situation, did not avoid the pitfall.

Mourdock could not, of course, walk away from his deeply held view that abortion shouldn’t be lawful even in cases of rape. But he didn’t need to. He just needed to stop his theology lesson with the proposition that life is a gift from God.

But he didn’t. So now the Republican party faces the possibility of losing two basically “gimme” Senate seats due to the foolishness of the candidates it nominated.

At this rate, we may end up deserving to be called the stupid party.

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