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, as he ought to have done. There is room for diversity in the GOP of views on the moral aspects of abortion; there’s no room for disagreement on the questions of whether rape is ever welcome or how babies are made.

Meanwhile, Democrats and the media have inflated Akin’s comments to a grand scale, as if they represent the thinking of Republicans as a whole: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, predictably, is fundraising off Akin’s gaffe. That’s where Democrats’ desperation becomes most painfully obvious.

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