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?
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.