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Alone With J

November 5, 2012

By J SWYGART
    You have to wonder who woke up Wednesday morning feeling worse.
    Was it Richard Mourdock, the Republican Senate candidate from Indiana who stumbled ... badly ... before a live television audience Tuesday evening with his pronouncement that when a woman becomes pregnant during a rape, ‘‘that’s something God intended’’?
    Or was it supporters (investors?) of Mourdock’s fat cat donor PACs — The Club for Hair Growth, or some such nonsense, or Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS outfit, which spent more than $1 million on television ads in support of the Republican candidate?
    Surely each of those ultra-conservative checkbook warriors went to bed Tuesday night feeling confident they had successfully purchased an Indiana Senate seat, only to wake up the next morning and immediately start crying in their corn flakes when they see their boy’s name scatted — and not in a good way — across national publications and websites.
  Or maybe the night’s big loser was GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who in the last two weeks of this year’s campaign could use a little good news. Mourdock’s gaffe didn’t provide it. Quite the contrary.
    Instead of talking policy, Romney was forced to distance himself from Mourdock on Tuesday night — a day after a television ad featuring the former Massachusetts governor supporting the GOP Senate candidate began airing in Indiana. That’s a combination of bad politics AND bad luck.
    ‘‘Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views,’’ Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email to The Associated Press. Romney aides would not say whether the ad would be pulled and if the Republican presidential nominee would continue to support Mourdock’s Senate bid.
    You could almost feel sorry for Romney — were he not so agonizingly unlikable in the first place — for the latest GOP mess that was not of his making. The same cannot be said, however, for the Karl Roves and Chris Chocolas and billionaire Koch brothers and others of their ilk who squandered their money on a Tea Party buffoon like Mourdock.
    Obsessed with the notion of acquiring a Senate seat with their unlimited funds, the fat cats apparently failed to do even the slightest amount of due diligence in picking Mourdock as their horse. They put their money on Secretariat, and wound up with Mr. Ed (for those of you under 50 — Google “talking horse”). It’s not like the former Indiana State Treasurer hasn’t been saying off-the-wall stuff for as long as he’s been in the public eye.
    But Mourdock may have bested himself this time, and embarrassed an entire state in the process. Coupled with the story — on the same news cycle, no less — that Indiana’s attempt to block Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood has been ruled by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to be in violation of federal regulations, Hoosiers have been subjected to national scorn and ridicule.
    Mourdock’s rape-pregnancy gaffe will have a longer shelf life than some campaign stumbles, but time will march on and the furor eventually will die down.
    Unless Hoosiers are foolish enough to actually elect him on Nov. 6.
    If that’s the case, the embarrassment for Indiana residents may only be beginning.

    The writer is the opinion page editor of the Decatur Daily Democrat.

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