I had a brilliant idea to have a replacement columnist write this week's babble (just to see who would notice), and then the NFL had to go settle with the referee union and screw it all up.
I still think the whole mess was blown out of proportion, as if eight sacks of Aaron Rodgers and an 81QB rating during the game had nothing to do with the final outcome of the game with the Seahawks (with all due respect to my Packer buddies).
Anyway, the ordeal did provide fodder to make comparisons, such as the political group previously known as the Grand Old Party that has now been replaced, for reasons I have trouble understanding, by the silly-named Tea Party.
Whether a majority of actual members or not, no single group has done more damage to the Republicans than these hypocritical extremists who spend their days rallying against all government programs (except the ones they personally take advantage of). If voters don't wise up quickly, it's all over for the GOP and the Romney campaign.
I never trust polls, but I do observe them, and as of last week Romney is losing in every one of the swing states.
The honeymoon with Paul Ryan is over, as the two are definitely sleeping in separate beds, no longer even sharing a checking account, and appear to be in complete odds over how to handle health care and who gets credit for what in their fictional budget.
Romney's quote on "60 Minutes," "I'm the one running for president, not him," pretty much sealed the deal of discontent.
And those TV ads. All of the sudden the new buzzword connected with China is "cheater"?
"Cheater, cheater, cheater," both sides shout incessantly while pointing in one another's direction.
Seriously? What is this, the third grade?
And then the inane accusations of 47 percent of Americans wanting handouts, when he knew good and well that particular segment included seniors, students, the working poor (the majority of which live in southern red states), farmers who survive thanks to government subsidies and active duty military deployed in combat zones.
And Romney makes the claim all the while holding his hand is out for donations.
He has one last chance to turn things around, and that chance is Wednesday night.
As history tells us, presidential debates -- especially the first one -- can change everything.
Romney ruled during the primary debates, destroying delusional lightweights like Perry, Bachmann and Cain, but he needs to be careful tomorrow night, as that chair next to him will not be empty (although many would debate such a claim) This is the big leagues, boys and girls, no more cute comebacks allowed (unless quoting Reagan, of course), and no undecideds will be swayed by "new and improved" promises.
It is time for Mitt Romney to put up or shut up, and there's no replacement waiting in the wings.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.