When thinking about what to write about today, it was difficult not to write about anything except what Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Republican candidate for Senate, said.
The problem is two-fold.
The first is that the statement makes me heart-sick, and discussing the statement makes me even more heart-sick.
The second problem is that the whole discussion is missing the larger, far-more important point.
We'll get to the second part later. But first, the whole "heart-sick" thing.
To begin with, I don't even have it in me to repeat the words that the Republican candidate said. It's not because doing such a thing risks giving the statement credibility. And it's not because repeating the words simply puts them into the atmosphere. It's because if I typed the words I believe that my fingers would fall off.
Additionally, I don't have it in me to admire the repudiations of Mr. Mourdock from Republican candidates that I've thus heard. It's not because the repudiations aren't sincere -- they well may be. The problem is that the Republican Party has fostered a foundation where someone like Mr. Mourdock can even think it's reasonable to put forth such a position at a debate for the United States Senate -- let alone in a basement of misogynistic drunks.
Whether or not Mr. Mourdock (R-IN) misspoke or was taken out of context, the reality is that the general concept of what he was proposing is not so wildly out of line with today's Republican Party, whether it's Todd Akin (R-MO) or V.P Candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI) trying to make laws about "legitimate rape" or proposed Republican laws about "life begins at conception" or Republican platform positions against all abortion. That Mr. Mourdock "may" have misspoken and gone too far is moot -- he was discussing a position that he felt it reasonable to address as a candidate for the U.S. Senate because it is reasonable in today's Republican Party to make rape a debatable proposition.
That's why Republican repudiations of Mr. Mourdock ring hollow. At best, they're merely saying "I disagree with Richard Mourdock." And that's not even close to acceptable. It's not enough to say this "doesn't reflect your views." For all we know, your views are worse. It requires clarity, "I am sickened by what Richard Mourdock said because it is anathema to the human spirit. It has no place in human society. His views are reprehensible."
The problem is, that won't happen in today's Republican Party. As we've seen, its standard bearer, Mitt Romney, made a TV ad supporting Richard Mourdock, and agreed to let it run.
(I was going to comment about the lack of moral courage and leadership from Mr. Romney, but there's a limit to stating the obvious.)
Further, I find calls for Mr. Mourdock to "apologize" just as empty. Apologize? That he's sorry for offending people doesn't change the sentiment. That he's sorry he said it -- boy, howdy, I can only imagine, but it doesn't mean he doesn't still believe it. Apologizing doesn't remove the reality that his basic position, however phrased, is not only clear, but that he could be in a position to make it law. "Apologizing," while lovely, is not the response people should want to hear, but rather retraction. Personally discrediting his own statement. Understanding that his beliefs on women have required soul-searching about whether he can be a leader and should perhaps leave the race.
But that is unlikely to happen because Mr. Mourdock was pretty clear about what he said. Just not perhaps how he said it. Perhaps.
But that leaves the second problem. That the discussion about Richard Mourdock's statement is missing the larger point.
Without repeating what Mr. Mourdock said, out of deference to that whole "heart-sick" thing, the center of it was that his position was something "God intended."
What Richard Mourdock believes "God intended" is has no place in a race for United States Senate.
What "God intended," period, has no place in any race for public office.
God's intent has a place. It's in a house of worship. It's in the home. It's in our hearts. It's in how we personally live our own lives.
I say this not only because never making what "God intended" a cornerstone of federal law is what keeps America such a vibrant, religious-tolerant nation and, truly, land of the free. I say it, too, because there are so many religions and sects and interpretations within them all that if we start trying to pass laws in America based on what "God intended" there will be 320 million laws based on everyone's personal belief of their God's intent. And if you know you're right because God told you His intent, they'll insist you're a blasphemer, because God told the truth to them.
If the religious far right wants what "God intended" to be the test of law, they are living in the wrong country.
Wanting religious doctrine to order your life is why houses of worship exist. Wanting laws to order your life is why government exists.
What Richard Mourdock (R-IN) believes "God intended" is between him and his God (who I believe is correcting him quite bluntly tonight). If he wants to hold a belief that others may find heart-sickening, he can discuss that with his God. And live his life accordingly. Even under the threat of going to hell. That's between him and his God.
If he want to be a U.S. Senator -- indeed if anyone wants to hold any public office -- they should only be concerned with one thing: the public good... whatever that public believes in its make-up of individual private faiths.
It's my belief that God can handle that.
Besides, He's not running for the Senate. He's God.