Given the story out of France discussed below, it is almost unbelievable that much of America’s political media spent much of yesterday obsessing about a throw-away line by Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney’s key adviser and spokesman and a very smart, very accomplished observer of politics who threw his fist spanner in about a decade of presidential and other high profile campaigns.
So “Etch-a-Sketch” joins a long line of phrases like “leading from behind,” “bet you $10,000,” 57 states, two Cadillacs, “Chuck, stand up there Chuck,” and scores of others which line the memory hallways of political reporters and especially columnists looking for copy. Ohio Art thanks Eric for calling attention to their long ignored forerunner to the iPad, and the Team Romney speechwriters will certainly be scribbling “the president wishes this were an etch-a-sketch campaign in which his record of the past three years could be erased so easily…” a few dozen times between now and November.
But the hand-wringing! Jeb Bush steps into the ring to stop the fight and declare a TKO, and even the Manhattan-Beltway media elites are declaring “[a]n air of inevitability grows around Romney after decisive primary win,” but victims of the Zombie narrative rushed off to embrace Etch-a-Sketch as an excuse for one last road trip on the boss’s dime.
It has been Obama-Romney since the Florida primary, and it is still Romney-Obama after this minor flap, and it will be Obama-Romney after the next gaffe on either side. Yes, there is a quasi-Sports Illustrated jinx developing around Romney primary wins, so the former Massachusetts governor is due for the biggest gaffe of all on November 7 given the president’s mounting political woes. A meme is already fully developed that will follow President Romney through his White House years –the “gaffe prone Romney” Like President Bush and malapropisms, and Slow Joe Biden, the Gold medalist of awkward, this is the sort of neo-charming trait that doesn’t matter when it comes down to voting on the future of the country.
But writers gotta write and commentators have to say something when the clip is played, so for a few days it will be Fehrnstrom-on-a-spit, and then it too will fade as the pressing realities of a country in fiscal and national security peril reassert themselves.
There will be more stumbles on both sides, but the election will come down to the president’s abysmal record and the path he has put the country on and Romney’s demand that we make a U-turn. A pile of Etch-a-Sketches as high as the national debt wouldn’t change that basic choice or that basic dynamic of campaign 2012.