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Mitt Romney, Todd Akin, Gen. Patton, George Armstrong Custer, and Jack Woltz

So Todd Akin -- against the urging of just about every Republican with an IQ higher than room temperature -- has decided to stay in the race against the former sure loser, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. If Mitt Romney wants to show conservatives he has the right stuff, it's time for the political equivalent of a Jack Woltz wake-up call.

Akin, almost completely unknown outside the Show-Me State until a few days ago, has just thumbed his nose at Mitt, Paul Ryan, a group of former Missouri Republican senators, and most of the conservative punditocracy. If Romney -- up against a Chicago machine that is equal parts Al Capone and Saul Alinsky -- lets this insult go unanswered, it bodes poorly for him in the upcoming election.

Yes, yes -- I know about party rules, and how helpless the national GOP is against a rogue like Akin; shades of Weepy John Boehner, whining that he's only one half of one third of... zzzzzzzzz.  It's as if the entire Republican Party has become the Circumlocution Office in Dickens' Little Dorrit, dedicated to explaining why nothing can ever be done -- about anything:

It is true that How not to do it was the great study and object of all public departments and professional politicians all round the Circumlocution Office. It is true that every new premier and every new government, coming in because they had upheld a certain thing as necessary to be done, were no sooner come in than they applied their utmost faculties to discovering How not to do it. It is true that from the moment when a general election was over, every returned man who had been raving on hustings because it hadn't been done, and who had been asking the friends of the honourable gentleman in the opposite interest on pain of impeachment to tell him why it hadn't been done, and who had been asserting that it must be done, and who had been pledging himself that it should be done, began to devise, How it was not to be done.... All this is true, but the Circumlocution Office went beyond it.

Well, this is not the time for How Not to Do It. Romney and Ryan are not stupid; they can see what a tough shot control of the Senate is going to be, even should this turn out to be an anti-Obama wave election. Thanks to the moral cowardice of Chief Justice John Roberts, which will live in infamy, repeal of Obamacare hinges on control of the Senate -- and yet Akin now bids fair to join Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell as part of an unholy trio whose ineptitude cost the GOP victory in one of the most important philosophical battles of the modern era. At least he's not a witch.

But if you're apologizing, you're already losing, and as Akin's imaginary "lead" over McCaskill evaporates over the new few days, it's going to become increasingly apparent that the War of 2012 may already have been lost at the Battle of Missouri. And for what?