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Editorials

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Gary Varvel | Indianapolis Star
Editorials

Mourdock’s ‘apology’

Perhaps the most ironic element of the firestorm Richard Mourdock created with his comments about abortion is that unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, abortion will be a very low priority for the U.S. Senate. But Hoosier voters have every reason to consider Mourdock’s statement – and his fumbling attempts to explain what he said – when they cast their ballot for U.S. senator.

While Mourdock and his supporters accuse Democrats and others of twisting his words, critics have done nothing more than point out exactly what Mourdock said in Tuesday’s debate.

Indeed, it is Mourdock who is trying to change the meaning of his own words.

In the debate, Mourdock said that a pregnancy resulting from the rape of a woman “is something that God intended to happen.”

On Wednesday, Mourdock tried to explain his words. “I said life is precious. I believe rape is a brutal act. It is something that I abhor.”

Well, no, that isn’t what he said.

If Mourdock had simply explained the day after that he misspoke during the debate or that he meant to say something else, some critics might forgive him and move on.

Instead, he adopted an approach that has become common in an era when a highly publicized controversial statement is inevitably followed by a public apology. He blamed not himself but anyone upset by what he said for not understanding what he meant to say.

After offering his clarification Wednesday, he said: “And that anyone could come away with any meaning other than what I just said is regrettable, and for that I apologize.”

Perhaps the bigger issue voters should consider is that this is not an anomaly for Mourdock. After infamously trying to redefine the meaning of “bipartisanship,” he essentially said the same thing in a slightly less snarky way. After suggesting in one speech to a tea party group that he can’t find anything about Medicare or Social Security in the Constitution, he later said he wasn’t suggesting those programs are unconstitutional – though that is the very conclusion any reasonable person would reach after hearing his original remarks. He is also on record that state legislatures – not voters – should choose U.S. senators.

After defeating longtime incumbent Richard Lugar in the GOP primary, Mourdock’s hubris was on display in national TV interviews. If this is the way Mourdock communicates with the potential voters he hopes to win over, consider what he will say – how he will speak for Indiana – if he is elected to a six-year term.

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