Will the negative media coverage created by Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's incendiary remark, "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen," be drowned in Hurricane Sandy's floodwaters?
That would be convenient for Mitt Romney. The GOP presidential nominee offered a brief statement condemning Mr. Mourdock's outrageous view of this important women's health issue, but he made little effort to distance himself from Mr. Mourdock politically. New TV ads showcasing Mr. Romney's endorsement of Mr. Mourdock continue to flood Indiana's news media outlets.
Mr. Romney's muddled response should prompt voters to re-examine the policies and ideology endorsed by his advocates and teammates, constituting this year's Republican presidential platform. Mr. Mourdock's declaration on rape is blatantly offensive; it condones violence toward women. By logical extension, he challenges a Constitutional right to equal protection. For example, would Mr. Mourdock also find that a man raping another man is an act of God?
If his answer is yes, then voters should ask why "God's will," faithfully transcribed by members of the Republican Party, indicates acceptance of violent, non-consensual homosexual acts, but still condemns non-violent, consensual homosexual relationships as immoral?
If his answer is no, then Mr. Mourdock maintains that women should be regarded differently than men, when victims of violent crimes.
As much as Mr. Romney may avoid uncomfortable social issues that rock the base of his constituency, this election is about far more than the economy. Fundamental constitutional rights, including equal protection for all citizens, women's rights to choose, and the separation of church and state, are in grave jeopardy this November.
Voters must recognize Mr. Romney's insensitivity to a remarkably sensitive matter. A candidate who fails to fervently disavow a political colleague's offensive or extremist rhetoric is effectively wed to that colleague's beliefs and, if elected, can be expected to foster his agenda.
Jeffrey F. Barken, BaltimoreCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun