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Friday, March 23, 2012

The Fake Etch-a-Sketch Furor

Come on. Really? The Romney Etch-a-Sketch is what we're buzzing about? Please.

OK, the Romney campaign aide who made the statement did not use the most felicitous analogy, and, of course, it got taken out of context becoming the joke/theme of the day.  The main mistake was to be too honest, and on a mainstream media channel.

Every party nominee of both parties does an "Etch-a-Sketch" shake prior to the general campaign. Success in American presidential politics requires it. We have a nation that is roughly 40% Democrat and 40% Republican. You have, therefore, about 80% of the population for whom the campaign is essentially irrelevant; they are going to vote for their party's nominee almost regardless of what happens in that campaign. The battle is for the remaining 20%. Those tend to be moderate independents for whom ideology and party label are pretty low on the priority list. Our system, especially the brilliant electoral college scheme, is designed to force candidates to the center, to make a national appeal. In the general election, neither candidate focuses on his ideology, but seeks to appear as a practical mainstream American problem solver who will work for the entire nation.  We all know that.

When I heard the Etch-a-Sketch comment, I immediately "predicted"(in quotes because you don't need to be too bright to make that prediction) to a friend that the Democrats would seize on it. I, however, did not expect the sort of grandstanding demagoguery we got from Santorum and Gingrich. I lost a great deal of the considerable respect I had for both of those men. They know that were one of them to become the nominee, he would need to shake his campaign's Etch-a-Sketch pretty vigorously. That, in particular, would be the case with Santorum. No way could Santorum win the general election with the rhetoric he employed in the primary. He would need a whole new speech downplaying his social conservative themes, and focusing on the economy, energy, debt, and foreign policy.

While Romney's aide was talking about shaking the Etch-a-Sketch, right in front of our eyes we see President Obama actually doing it! Now, he's for the oil pipeline--half of it anyhow. Now, he is suddenly pro-oil drilling and production. Now, he is suddenly concerned about the fate of American manufacturing. Now, he is worried about high gas prices and is throwing inept Energy Secretary Chu right under the Volt, by distancing himself from Chu's comments on the "need" for high gasoline prices.

I think this drives home the point that the GOP primary is too drawn out. It is time to wrap it up. Governor Romney will be the nominee--we all know that. He is a very good nominee, in fact, the best the GOP has had in a long time, and a nominee with a real chance, better than even, to end our national nightmare. Gingrich and Santorum need to acknowledge that, stop trying to destroy him by writing Democrat talking points, and allowing the Democrats to get us off topics that matter: jobs, energy, debt, national security.

Enough is enough.

It's time to focus on sending Obama back to Chicago.

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