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Is it time for intervention?

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
September 19, 2012 1:38:00 PM PDT
Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican. That was the so-called 11th Commandment back in the day.

(It was about the same time that Vito Corleone chided Sonny for disagreeing with him at a meeting with a (soon-to-be) enemy. Don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again, he commands.)

And it makes sense, for a certain time and place. That is, before political primaries started carving up the candidates long before the other party could start. For the past 10 days, some Republicans are in full nail-biting mode, suggesting that if Mitt Romney doesn't defeat Pres. Obama during an election that many in the GOP believe should be a slam-dunk victory, then the party is doomed to disappear after November.

Perhaps a harsher-than-reality statement. But it reflects the sentiment that permeated the convention, and, although it now seems like ancient history, the primary season earlier this year. That was when the rap against Mr. Romney was that he couldn't get above a 25 percent approval rating in the polls of likely Republican voters.

That's why it took so long for the party to rally around Mitt Romney; he wasn't the "base's" first choice. Arch conservatives didn't like or trust him - after all, he's a governor from the Northeast!

And if Paul Ryan, the darling of the Tea Party, hadn't been tapped as the V.P. candidate, there would have been even less enthusiasm at the convention in Tampa. You could feel it in the thick, humid air there.

All of which is back story to today's story: Peggy Noonan, the sharp Republican speechwriter, is calling for an "intervention" for the Romney campaign. She says the campaign is about to tank and it's time for Mr. Romney to step up and shake it up.

This is from her column in the Wall Street Journal titled "Time for an Intervention":

"It's time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. It's not big, it's not brave, it's not thoughtfully tackling great issues. It's always been too small for the moment. All the activists, party supporters and big donors should be pushing for change. People want to focus on who at the top is least constructive and most responsible. Fine, but Mitt Romney is no puppet: He chooses who to listen to. An intervention is in order. Mitt, this isn't working."

Most pundits still view this as an incredibly tight race; certainly the White House is acting like it is. But some stumbles by the Republican candidate these past two weeks - his criticism of the Obama Administration's position on the Middle East protests and violence, and his videotaped comments about writing off at least half the electorate as freeloaders who will never vote for him - have many in the party more than a little worried.

They call the last few weeks of the Presidential election "the silly season." But this time there are many Americans who want no part of it. Now is the time - Ms. Noonan argues - for serious issues to be seriously debated and hashed out. It's time to have a real campaign, not get lost in silliness, and small-ball stuff.

No matter what your politics, it's a great read, and a clarion call for everyone to "step up." Click here to read Peggy Noonan's column at WSJ.com.

We'll have the latest from the campaign trail, tonight at 11.

We'll also have the newest fare hike proposals from the MTA. Last night it was bus and subway tolls, tonight the cash register is on bridges and tunnels. Ug.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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