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I think we all owe a great debt of gratitude to Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock. No, really. I mean it. At a time when it was looking like people might start actually believing flimflam artist Mitt Romney's transparently false attempt to shake his Etch A Sketch and "tack to the center," someone like Mourdock comes along to remind us of what the Republican Party really stands for.
I've got to tell you, if I were Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, I'd have sent out a memo months ago telling every GOP candidate for every elected office, from president to prom king: "For God's sake, if anyone brings up rape, change the subject!" Because it seems that anytime the subject comes up, some far-right ideologue manages to say something (a) stupid; or (b) downright horrifying.
Problem is, the difficult topic of rape keeps coming up. It forces the right to face one of the thornier problems of its stance against a woman's right to choose: Would you force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest?
Different candidates have dealt with this question in different ways. A few weeks ago, you had Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, who dealt with the question by denying scientific reality and essentially making up his own. He claimed that he'd heard from doctors that pregnancies from rape are "really rare" - that "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
This led to a firestorm of indignation and well-deserved derision. While some on the right, particularly Mike Huckabee and the Family Research Council, defended Akin, the bulk of the party decided to back away from defending the idea that you could separate sexual assault into "legitimate" and "illegitimate" categories, not to mention the completely bogus notion that a woman's body provides a magic shield against becoming pregnant by rape if it's "legitimate."
Just as the Akin furor was dying down and Mitt was playing at being a moderate once again by claiming, "There's no legislation with regard to abortion that I'm familiar with
that would become part of my agenda" (after claiming he'd be a "proudly pro-life president" and promising to defund Planned Parenthood), along comes Mourdock.
Asked if there'd be any exception to his anti-choice stance, Mourdock allowed as how he'd graciously let a mother choose to live if her pregnancy might kill her. As for rape or incest, he said, "I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."
Really? A woman gets raped, her rapist makes her pregnant, and that's all part of God's perfect plan?
In addition to "legitimate rape," we're now supposed to believe in "rape with pregnancy intended by God"? I'm glad that, while I do believe in God, he's not a God that thinks women being made pregnant against their will is just what he intended. Such a God would be some kind of sadistic cosmic psychopath.
Mourdock, however, isn't getting the Akin treatment. The party is still sending him cash. No doubt the leadership reasoned, "Hey, if we start throwing every nutball under the bus after he says something stupid or offensive to women, pretty soon we won't have any candidates left."
Honorable John McCain said Mourdock should apologize, but then walked the demand back the very next day. As for Romney, even though spokeswoman Andrea Sauls asserted that "Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock's comments, and they do not reflect his views," Lord Romney, the High Sheriff of Flip-Flopshire, has endorsed Mourdock.
He's even cut a campaign ad on his behalf that's running in Indiana right now. This is called "trying to have it both ways." It's also called "transparently cynical and unworthy of a man who claims he's a leader." Among other things.
So thank you, Mr. Mourdock. Thanks for reminding us, once again, of what the GOP really is: the home of right-wing religious crazies who try to parse and partition various "kinds" of rape, and the alleged moderates who have to grit their teeth and embrace them for political gain.
Meanwhile, I just voted for the president who says unequivocally, "Rape is rape,"
and that we don't want "politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women's health care decisions."