Eric Fehrnstrom is a young man with a very special job. He’s a Senior Advisor and spokesman (or at least he was before issuing a televised statement) for Mitt Romney. Fehrnstrom (discussing Romney’s malleability while moving along the political horizon on any given day) stated the Romney campaign was like an “etch-a-Sketch.
One day, he’s firmly and solidly anchored to his conservatism. It’s a neighborhood watch he dearly wants to be accepted in and seen as Chairmanship of the board of directors. Fehrnstrom said Romney’s campaign could: “hit a reset button for the fall campaign”. Then he compounded the impact while confounding the punditry conclave with this: “Everything changes. It’s like Etch-A-Sketch, you can shake it up and we start all over again.”
I never owned an Etch-A-Sketch as a kid. But several years ago I had the chance to pick one up at a charity center similar to the Salvation Army. For a buck I got a chance to dismantle and understand how the thing worked.
It’s simple. A couple of rods are controlled by bands inside the face. The bands work a needle-like stylus that touches the screen from underneath. The rod moves on two (2) axes; vertical and horizontal. Move one little white dial and the stylus moves left and right or the other knob moves away or toward you. This “etching” into the colored screen shows up as a straight line. If you take special care and have patience, you can move the stylus almost microscopically to make what appears to be a curve, but close inspection shows it’s not really making a proper, smooth arc. When you flip the thing face down and shake, the impression you made disappears as the material once on the screen falls back into the space etched by the stylus and electrostatically bonds with the mass firmly in place.
The story’s been boosted to near halcyon heights as the pundits question what Fehrnstrom meant and how it affects the campaign.
It’s just as easy to understand. He meant that Romney is adaptable and capable of addressing each new issue as it rears its potentially ugly head. And there is where the venom lies: the regularly appreciated fact the man is not only malleable and moldable; he’s capable of changing color like a chameleon. He shades his rhetoric to fit and move him past any dangers could get him in trouble. Whether he’s honest or not is always debatable.
He’s against Obamacare (aren’t we all) but why did he create the template for it in Massachusetts? It was his baby, born of a progressive politician’s need to be paternalistic. He wanted to be seen as selected by divine intervention and as a man “more liberal than Ted Kennedy.” (source: Santorum campaign commercial) Whether or not he said this is always in question because campaign-speak is never unbiased. But, it is a fact Romneycare is a hurdle Romney will have trouble clearing in the future.
I have nothing for or against Romney, Santorum, Gingrich or Paul. I find them all equally tedious. I find Obama ridiculous and totally disingenuous. It seems these adjectives must be in place to run for high public office. But, there must also be in place a firm and complete knowledge of how to capitalize on the political geometry of any campaign or issue.
You must know how to work the angles. Romney’s an expert, but he’s also transparent. It doesn’t matter a whit what’s honest, truthful or sincere. It only matters how the issue can be maneuvered around, adjusted and postured into to present the candidate’s best appearance of the moment.
Romney’s own people have alluded to the fact a campaign is flexible to the point of elasticity. So many times we’ve heard of his “flip-flops” and the fact his moral compass on issues has a no susceptibility to point at True North. It points toward Magnetic North and directs him only toward what’s best for him.
For this reason we see his image is shaken and we’re not finding that to be stirring.
Thanks for listening.