Etch-A-Sketch in the News

Since when do the words of a campaign aide resonate long enough to rattle a front-running political campaign? When it involves a beloved children’s toy!

Nobody has talked much about the Etch-A-Sketch in recent years. I always thought it’d be a funny substitution for an iPad – you could carry it around in one of the important leather cases and stare intently at it in the Metro. But who have you seen actually use one in the last 10 years. I bet most kids don’t know what one is. I’m pretty sure it was never even part of the largely nostalgic array in “Toy Story,” which is a pretty good sign it’s nearly faded.

But when the aide said Mitt Romney’s positions would be “reset” for the fall campaign (a perfectly fine computer-age metaphor), he pushed it too far to say it would be shaken and disappear and be rewritten anew (albeit in squarish, impossible to read cursive) via the Etch-A-Sketch.

Well everybody jumped on this, because it seemed to be a good replacement item for the flip-flop, the former sign for changing positions (and for Mitt in particular). Around this time of year, people like their flip flops; it was losing its cache (waffle was worse; who eats those in the morning these days? And how does it depict wavering on the issue? Pocked with regiments of cooked-in squares, yes. But that’s about it).

Then comes the Etch-A-Sketch, which for a generation is a vivid reminder of easily erased artwork and the distaste of a pretty terrible toy. Does anybody remember actually creating something they liked by moving the knobs?

More likely you drew a squarish house, wrote your name in squared off letters or just did geometric design. Scratching the entire surface with the internal pens was one of the great, pointless timewasters.

Now stock is up for the Etch-A-Sketch, if only thanks to the competing campaigns who have been hoisting them at stump speeches, or just giving them away at rallies.

Soon it may replace the dog strapped atop the car as the image for Mitt (but not likely).

At least its usage by the aid was accurate, in terms of the toy. Back when they talked about foreign policy as a kind of Wack-A-Mole game, they always had it wrong: bopping one down didn’t make another one rise up – they just came up anyway.

And now Romney strategists are trying to brainstorm old toy names they can affix to their opponents (Mr. Potato Head for Gingrich is just too easy).

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