As I affirmed here, one take-home lesson of the Todd Akin affair was that, even though the official GOP platform does not endorse abortion in cases of rape, the truth on the ground is that Republican politicians who don't really support the rape exception are being increasingly marginalized in the GOP. They have come to be regarded as extremists and as a liability, and the party is, I believe, eventually going to abandon them. This is reflected in the current presidential candidate's urging Akin to drop out of the race even though the party had no viable plan B. (Aren't we supposed to be concerned about "viability" and "strategy"?) Paul Ryan is permitted to oppose a rape exception because he has proven himself willing to set aside that "personal opposition," turn over all policy decisions to a candidate who is strongly in favor of the rape exception, and become the #1 campaigner for that candidate. Ryan would find himself treated as less of an asset to his own party were he running for a Senate or House position rather than for the Vice Presidency, especially if the left got him to say anything about why he opposes a rape exception and then managed to spin his answer as wicked and heartless.
The new incident in this series is the leftist distortion of the comment by Senate candidate Richard Mourdock that a baby conceived as a result of rape is nonetheless intended by God and a gift from God. To be fair to the GOP, the response in this case has been more mixed than in the case of Akin. They haven't exactly thrown Mourdock under the bus. Romney has "distanced himself" from Mourdock's remarks by saying that he "disagrees with" them, but he hasn't removed his endorsement of Mourdock. And National Republican Senate Committee chairman John Cornyn has come out in Mourdock's support. Perhaps a grain of sense is starting to penetrate the national party's skulls, and they realize they can't afford to ditch every pro-life senate candidate who hasn't yet caught up with the times and endorsed the rape exception.
But what, precisely, does Romney disagree with in Mourdock's remarks? Does the conception of a child under such circumstances fall outside of God's providential design? Is the baby a punishment (to quote our Commander in Chief) in that case rather than a gift? Does the child not have an immortal soul, given by God? Is the child's existence itself not, in an important sense, a good thing? I doubt that we should expect candidate Romney to clarify exactly what it means for him to disagree with Mourdock. That isn't what the media will be pressing him on. Rather, they'll be asking why he hasn't treated Mourdock as he treated Akin and thrown him completely to the wolves.
My sad prediction is that if that doesn't happen to Mourdock this time around (as hopefully it will not), it won't be all that long before it happens to all GOP candidates who think as Mourdock does.