“[A] thick, flat gray screen in a plastic frame” is Wikipedia‘s definition of the Etch A Sketch. It could also describe Mitt Romney. Just when it appeared that the protracted Republican campaign might be nearing its end after solid Romney victories in Puerto Rico and Illinois, as well as an endorsement by Jeb Bush, the Romney campaign stepped in it big time.
In case you missed it, Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior Romney aide, when asked if Romney’s hard right — or if you prefer, “severely conservative” — positions would hurt him in the general election, Fehrnstrom replied:
“You hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch — you can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”
Fehrnstrom should be given credit for answering one burning question: Do they still make Etch A Sketches? Remarkably, the answer is yes, and we can predict safely that sales have taken off. But, what is wrong with him?
Fehrnstrom is not just any campaign aide. He used to be a “communications director” for Romney — you know, the person in charge of making sure the message gets out and no one says anything stupid. He has been with Romney a long time and is now described as a “senior aide.” He is also a former reporter for The Boston Herald, a feisty tabloid that delights in extracting embarrassing quotes from political big shots. I have had a fair number of dealings with the media because my former employer used to tab me to answer questions that could be negative or harmful. The one thing I knew was to never say anything quotable, because anything quotable in a negative story would be, by definition, embarrassing. So how does an experienced media hand whose boss has been running for President most of this century blow it?
The comment reinforces the narrative that Romney has — and will — say anything to get elected and has already generated obvious negative ads and comments by his GOP rivals and Democrats. Instead of benefitting from positive momentum from the preceding week, the Romney campaign has quite successfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.