If you’ve been watching the news or just participating in normal water cooler office conversation, you might find yourself wondering what is the deal with Etch A Sketch and Republican presidential candidates. That’s right, it seems that everyone in the field, except for Ron Paul, are either talking about or carrying around an Etch A Sketch. For those that don’t remember, the Etch A Sketch was that super-cool toy that everyone had when they were little where you turned the little knobs and drew things. When you were ready to start over, you shook it, and the Etch A Sketch was clear and ready for another session. It was cool, but most of us abandoned them by the age of, I don’t know, five or six, and yet a few of these much, much older politicians seem to have an unnatural fascination with them.
So, where did it all begin? Interestingly enough, the Etch A Sketch crisis was started by none of the above. It originated when Republican nomination front-runner (if any of them can actually claim that status in one of the closest Republican contests in decades), Mitt Romney’s campaign communications director was asked a question about their ongoing tactics. On CNN, Eric Fehrnstrom was asked if Romney was concerned that the primary was so close that Romney might have to “track so far to the right” to win the nomination that he couldn’t have a chance when he gets to the real election. Basically, he was saying that Romney is having to pretend to be more Republican than he really is in order to get enough votes to secure the Republican nomination, and this might cause him to have a problem winning over moderate voters afterwards when the real showdown with President Obama comes around. Fehrnstrom wasn’t worried about that at all. He replied that when the real campaign begins, it’s like hitting a reset button. To further paint his picture, he compared it to the famous childhood toy:
“Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”
That comment turned out to be the bullet heard around the Republican world. Romney’s opponents were quick to seize the opportunity to take issue with this viewpoint, saying that a candidate should be true to his values all the time and not be catering one way or the other regardless of what stage the campaign is in. For what it’s worth, we agree with them. The problem is that the candidates pointing this out would be just as guilt of the Etch A Sketch routine if either of them won the nomination as well.
Both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich brought along an Etch A Sketch as a prop at campaign stops, pledging their devotion to the conservative class. Santorum plans to keep it up, launching what he refers to as his “Etch A
Sketch tour of America.” He went on to compare Romney’s communications director’s comments to something real similar in relevance — the drafting of the Constitution. If Romney were there, he would just shake it up and start all over, Santorum implied.
Like the pompous assholes that they are, Santorum made a big event out of stopping to buy an Etch A Sketch at a Toys R Us store and they apparently drew pictures of Mitt Romney (probably not too flattering ones, I’m guessing) on the way. They even Tweeted about the occasion. As you might imagine, the Ohio Art Company, the geniuses behind the Etch A Sketch, were thrilled to see all this publicity.
Once again, what sucks about this story is that the ones poking fun at Romney’s camp for the Etch A Sketch comment would be doing the same thing if they were in Romney’s shoes. They just might find a better, more politically correct way to put it.