A Senate candidate should know better than to talk theology during a presidential race. Indiana’s Richard Mourdock dug himself a hole, flung himself in and may not emerge again. In a debate, he felt compelled to share with voters his belief that, “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.” Reporters and Obama team members (I repeat myself) who say he was minimizing rape are engaging in intentional misrepresentation.

For a moment, let’s understand what Mourdock meant by that. Like some pro-life Americans, Mourdock believes that all life is sacred and, absent a risk to the life of the mother, it is murder to abort the unborn child. Man from the moment of conception, these people believe, is made in God’s image.

Bigger picture now: The essence of religious monotheism is that everything comes from one God, which naturally leaves humans befuddled when “Bad things happen to good people.” The faithful nevertheless persevere in their faith, believing that God is unknowable to human minds. This is the essence, for example, of the Book of Job, which I felt compelled to reread this afternoon. (It is a deeply disturbing story precisely because it raises these fundamental issues about the nature of God, good and evil, etc.) Suffice it to say the last place to delve into these matters is a U.S. Senate debate two weeks before the election.

No one has to believe this. Many people don’t. That is why it is better left out of political campaigns. (Repeat: Mourdock will and should pay a price for this.) But Mourdock does believe this. No one who knows him or has interviewed him doubts that he’s a sincerely religious person. He was not expressing a lack of sympathy with rape victims (hence the term “horrible situation”).

Reporters and pundits have no time for such concerns. Like red before a bull, they see “rape comment” and go charging off, seeing how much dust they can kick up. It is as predictable as it is tiresome.

They are transparently eager to help the president reverse the tide of the election. So any goof or any controversial statement is then seized upon, tied to Mitt Romney and converted into a “Mitt Romney has a problem” story line. This duet by anxious pols and willing spinners in the media assumes that voters are idiots. (It also assumes that people outside Indiana know who Richard Mourdock is.)

These same pundits and reporters are the ones (exactly the ones) who stopped writing and talking about Libya when it became a real national-security scandal and not a Romney “gaffe.” Their interest in topics and the degree of faux outrage is determined by one factor and one factor only: Will it help or hurt Obama?

Mourdock is not Todd Akin (who offered his idiotic non-scientific view that a pregnancy can’t result from rape). And Akin, for all the attention showered on him at the Democratic convention and by the media, has not harmed Romney one bit. In this case Romney has said he doesn’t share Mourdock’s view. I don’t expect he’ll have anything to say further, and if he does, he’s nuts. The president who can’t be bothered to answer questions about four Americans murdered on his watch and his serial prevarication says Mourdock’s comments were “outrageous.” What does that tell you about his character?

The president and the liberal spin machine, who claim to take the high ground (The GOP are the anti-intellectuals!), want this campaign to be about the trivial, gotcha moments, faked biographical scandals and distorted sound bites. The rest of us need not play along.

A final suggestion: Note the folks most excited about this story, scribbling away and yapping on cable TV news shows. Have they paid any attention to the smoking-gun Benghazi e-mails? To the fourth-quarter GDP predictions? To whether sanctions can possibly do enough damage to stop the Iran nuclear weapons program? Oh puleez. This crowd is the reason we have trivial campaign coverage and why the media is held in such low esteem. Shame on them.