The surest sign that Democrats know they are in trouble after Paul Ryan’s nomination to the Republican presidential ticket behind Mitt Romney is the desperation with which they are trying, desperately, to steer the conversation away from the economy, entitlements, and the Constitution–with the help of the media, of course. This is the substantive debate that President Barack Obama always said he was ready for, and which the media always calls for in high-minded tones, but once it is here they are suddenly trying to change the conversation.

The latest distraction is a side show in the Missouri race for U.S. Senate, where Republican nominee Todd Akin attempted to defend his opposition to abortion and made the ridiculous statement that the female body has a way to prevent conception in cases of “legitimate rape.” He later retracted and apologized, as he ought to have done. There is room for diversity in the GOP of views on the moral aspects of abortion; there’s not much room for disagreement on the questions of whether rape is ever welcome or how babies are made.

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