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Friday, March 23, 2012

Mitt Watch - Shake, Shake, Shake - Why The Etch-A-Sketch Gaffe Should End Him

March 23rd, 2012
by F. Grey Parker

Image via
Up until a couple of days ago, it had become somewhat superfluous to discuss the fact that Mitt Romney has no real positions on any issues.

This is not to say he doesn't believe in certain things.

I will concede the possibility that he might.

All this said, it is now obvious that there is something in his programming which precludes the courage of whatever convictions he might actually hold.

So used to Romney's 180 degree shifts had we become that we were beginning to dismiss the deadly seriousness his lack of character presents.

Enter the Etch-A Sketch moment. In an interview with CNN, Romney's closest campaign adviser and confidante, Eric Fehrnstrom, had this exchange with John Fugelsang:
Fugelang: Is there a concern that the pressure from Santorum and Gingrich might force the Governer to tack so far to the rigft that it might hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?
Fehrnstrom: Well, I think 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. But I will say, if you look at the exit polling data in Illinois, you’ll see that Mitt Romney is broadly acceptable to most of the factions in the party. You have to do that to become the major party nominee. (EMPHASES OURS)

Yes. This is as bad as it seems.

Already, this inadvertent revelation of the truth is being compared to Dukakis in the tank in 1988, George H. W. Bush's apparent fascination and previous inexperience with product scanning technology in 1992, and John Kerry's notorious stunner regarding the Iraq war in 2004.

To the cynic, this is hilarious on any number of levels.

However, this is also a defining moment for reasons which are both political and substantive.

The New Republic's Timothy Noah lays out the devastating potential for the former calling it "America's First Multiplatform Gaffe." He writes:
Political coverage by Comedy Central and the Onion is arguably more influential than many straight-news outlets on television and in newsprint, and we can expect some pretty hilarious exploitation of the visual possibilities of Fehrnstrom's simile. But the main reason this will be the gaffe heard 'round the world is the Web. Fehrnstrom's Etch-A-Sketch crack will inspire parody images, Web widgets, and apps downloaded onto computer screens, tablet computers, iPhones, and of course Etch-A-Sketches. These images can effortlessly be e-mailed, Facebooked, and tweeted hither and yon. Competitive impulses will be stirred among rival campaigns, amateur and professional Web designers, and legions of wiseacres with too much time on their hands. Already we have this and this and this and this. There will be much, much more, and to Romney it will feel like it's coming in the windows, down the chimney, and up the bathtub drain.
Everything Noah describes has begun in earnest.

With the blood in the water, the feeding frenzy has begun.

"His own top adviser has confirmed that Mitt Romney has absolutely no core and will in fact say anything to get elected," said Brad Wodehouse of the DNC.

Image via
Both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have appeared publicly, Etch-A-Sketch in hand, to slam team Romney.

Santorum aide Matt Benyon tweeted the photo to the left with the caption, "Rick Santorum studying up on Mitt Romney policy positions."

There is already a website devoted to the Gaffe.

A flurry of ads capitalizing on this is already circulating with examples below.

We should not be laughing, though. This is not funny.

The issue of substance, which I mentioned before, is where this becomes truly frightening.

The paramount demand of American leadership is that we, basically, know what our most powerful leader actually believes.

From left to right, we have grown to accept that late 20th and early 21st Century presidential politics does require a degree of, shall we say, slipperiness.

That said, we have also (until now) legitimately demanded that the essential philosophies of the candidates be made clear.

NEVER, and I do mean never, have we had, in my lifetime, a creature so opaque contending for the most dangerously awesome position of leadership on the face of the Earth that we had to step back and say...
"We really don't know what the fuck is going on, ever, at any time, in this guy's head."
That President Obama's predecessor was a psychopathic Dominionist who found Clancy novels overly complex was comforting in comparison to Mittens Romney.

That Rick Santorum, madman that he is, would take W's position of Crusading extremist even further is a point of reference with which we can grapple.

At least with the aforementioned, there was a point of reference.

Mitt Romney has no discernible moral position on any issue which we can actually define.

He has no international strategic philosophy we can expect much less predict.

He lacks the basic human ability to explain so much as an error of speech.

He makes the HAL9000 look sympathetic.

Humans make errors... For Gov. Mitt Romney, certain things simply do not compute in his quest to devour a target.

Sullivan writes:

"I'm beginning to think that Eric Fehrnstrom's description of his own candidate as an Etch-A-Sketch, capable of erasing anything he has believed or said in the past instantly, is close to a disqualifying comment.

It doesn't just imply, it asserts a cynicism and a hollowness that should disqualify anyone for the presidency. And it comes not from some radio moron or minor staffer - but from Romney's closest confidant."

Rachel Maddow raised more than a few eybrows by stating the simple, deeply frightening truth:
"This is not a normal amount of politician lying. He lies about himself, he lies about the president, he lies about everything."

I would go further. We're not dealing with a "liar" as the pejorative is traditionally understood.

Santorum lies. Gingrich lies. Let's face it, even Obama tells lies.

But, Mitt Romney doesn't lie. This is because machines don't lie. They do what they are programmed to do. And he is programmed to do and say anything... anything.

As long as it gets him to the next link in a methodical chain of power accumulation.

He is not human as we understand the concept. He is not even a socipath as we have come to understand them.

Humans feel shame.

Sociopaths adapt when vulnerable.

Romney just keeps going with something less than the subtlety of a shark.

You can hate Obama. Or Gingrich. Or Santorum.

But you would be a fool not to fear A Romney Presidency.

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