Visual source: Newseum
So is Romney’s Etch a Sketch metaphor going to last? Sure, they say, in word and deed ( a sampling of prevailing opinion, multiple examples available):
It’s the kind of line that reinforces the worst possible fears about Mitt Romney’s entire candidacy — he doesn’t even care what he’s saying to voters right now, because it’ll all be thrown out the window in a few months anyway.
To paraphrase Lord Palmerston, [my goldendoodle] Z.Z. has no permanent friends, only permanent interests.
And this is what makes her so much like Romney. Consider Romney’s response when asked about his aide’s claim that the general election would be like an Etch a Sketch, erasing conservative positions he took in the primaries. “I’m running as a conservative Republican,” the candidate told a group of reporters Wednesday after his town-hall event in suburban Baltimore. He didn’t say he is a conservative Republican; he said he’s running as one. As if this is a persona for this particular campaign.
No, say the sages. Because… well, because the public processes things too quick to remember.
A Romney aide said that for the fall campaign, the candidate could hit the reset button, making the comparison to how the toy works. But the Romney Etch A Sketch comment may not be remembered for long.
The Etch-a-Sketch Press
How the media constructed another Romney gaffe—and why it is unlikely to matter
Here is the upshot: when people evaluate Obama more favorably than Romney on the flip-flopper dimension, they are also more likely to prefer Obama in a head-to-head match-up. But this apparent effect pales beside the effect of two other dimensions: cares about people like me and cares about the middle class. (The other dimensions do not have statistically significant effects.)
The sages, mostly political scientists writing the day of or the day after the gaffe, get this one wrong. Well, partly wrong. As Sides (who I really enjoy reading) points out, Romney’s lack of empathy is killing him more than flip-flopping, so if he dies a political death, what did him in? The shot to the head or the shot to the heart?
But the Etch a Sketch metaphor hits at the heart of the plastic Romneybot persona. Here’s a guy as shallow as the Etch a Sketch screen and just as ephemeral. Everyone instantly understands what the reference is to, and why. No, folks, Etch a Sketch ain’t going away. And just because you liked playing with it as a kid (so did I) doesn’t mean it’s off limits.
What if the Supreme Court declares unconstitutional the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that everyone buy health insurance? What if it strikes down all the act’s insurance provisions, including the requirement that insurance companies cover everyone, regardless of pre-existing illnesses? Would this totally put an end to the health care reforms we have passed in the last three years?