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

Spare me Ronald Reagan's Eleventh Commandment about speaking ill of Republicans, or the notion that conservatives should always and everywhere defend "their own," or that the only acceptable battle strategy is constantly to be on the attack.  Quoting Frederick the Great, General Patton's motto was "l'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace," but audacity in battle is not synonymous with a cavalry charge into artillery fire or a horde of hostiles. Just ask Lord Raglan at Balaclava or George Armstrong Custer at the Little Bighorn. As I said over on NRO's The Corner yesterday:

This isn’t about abortion or rape or “women’s health.” Nor is it about “defending our own” and not capitulating to the Left. (Heck, in this case, the Left wants Akin to stay in the race.) It’s about winning control of the U.S. Senate and putting a crucial swing state into the GOP column in November. Nothing — nothing — else matters.

If the GOP could think tactically, it would be dangerous. If it could think strategically, it would be a majority party. But it has too many Akins in it for either of those things ever to happen.

Besides, it's simply not true that the GOP always panics and flees from its radioactive candidates while the Democrats brazen theirs out. Or have we all forgotten the distinguished but hopelessly corrupt senator from New Jersey, Robert Torricelli, "the Torch," whose blatantly illegal replacement by Frank Lautenberg in 2002 has come to be known as the "Torricelli Option."

And yet all is not lost. Akin still has until Sept. 25 to do the right thing, or to be subjected to a little friendly persuasion and be replaced by a remarkably lifelike cardboard box, or even a live human being, should it come to that. And then the focus can be back on the ethically challenged McCaskill, where it rightfully belongs.

That's something that only Romney can make happen, indirectly. Much more pressure can be brought to bear on the hapless Akin, including a discreet phone call from Mitch McConnell explaining that, in the unlikely event of an Akin victory, he will be heading up the new Senate Select Committee on KP and Latrine Duty in perpetuity, which will operate out of a subterranean broom closet at an undisclosed but dangerous location somewhere in Anacostia with a staff budget of approximately $2.47 per annum.

Romney's already shown that Mormons can be as ruthless as anybody -- think of Howard Hughes' "Mormon Mafia" as his role models --  both at Bain Capital and in disposing of Newt Gingrich and his other rivals for the GOP nomination. Neither his nor Ryan's fingerprints need be on this. But heading into the convention -- and you can bet the David Axelrod Democrats are poised to make maximum hay out of this one, and in fact are already trying to tie him to Ryan via their compliant media lackeys -- Romney cannot afford to be seen as incapable of enforcing party discipline, especially when his own election is at stake.

In short, it doesn't matter how it happens; it matters that it happens, and quickly.  Let's see if Mitt's up to the challenge.

UPDATE: Akin is already collapsing: From Rasmussen:

What a difference one TV interview can make. Embattled Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill has now jumped to a 10-point lead over her Republican challenger, Congressman Todd Akin, in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race. Most Missouri Republicans want Akin to quit the race while most Missouri Democrats want him to stay.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Show Me State finds McCaskill earning 48% support to Akin’s 38%. Nine percent (9%) like some other candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) are undecided.

Wonder what the Akin defenders have to say now.