2012: The Etch-A-Sketch Election

As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, one of Mitt Romney’s staffers made the gaffe of the century – or the mother of all ITE’s (Involuntary Truth Emissions) – when he compared Mitt Romney’s campaign in the primaries to that famous toy introduced in the late 1950’s, the Etch-A-Sketch. I probably don’t have to explain what an Etch-A-Sketch is, but it’s a simple toy with a square screen and two dials. You would twist the dials to make lines on the screen, and when you were done, all you had to do is turn the Etch-A-Sketch over and shake it, and voila! Whatever was on your screen disappeared like magic.

I think that is one of the most devastatingly apt analogies that I have ever heard, especially with regard to Mitt Romney, the Man Who Would be King, and, to a lesser extent, to the rest of this year’s Republican field.

Mittens has been running for office for most of the last 20 or so years, and during that time, he has attempted to be all things to all people – people who could give him the power, that is. I’m not going to bore you with a list of all of his flip-flops (this link has 14 of them), but suffice it to say that if you go back far enough, Mittens has been on both sides of every single issue, sometimes within the same 6 hour period: Roe v. Wade, immigration, climate change, health insurance mandates, Bush’s tax cuts, Ronald Reagan, gun control …well, you name it, Mittens has been both for it and against it, depending upon who he was speaking to at the time.

He ran for U.S. Senate in 1994, proclaiming himself to the left of Ted Kennedy, and now he’s trying to run to the right of the Jesus candidate, Rick Santorum. He was pro-choice in 1994, and now, in 2012, believes that every zygote is a person. He has also told us that corporations are people. (Doesn’t it seem these days that these extremist Republicans believe that everything is a person – except a woman?) He bragged about taking government money in connection with the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics (he “saved” them) and the Big Dig tunnel project in Boston (he “saved” that too). Oh, and FYI, there’s an extra nugget of crunchy Mitt goodness at the end of the linked article – Mittens takes a moment to pat himself on the back about the success of his “Romneycare” healthcare plan – you know, the one he’s running away from now?

And then there’s all those lies Mittens tells on the campaign trail. He has accused President Obama of making the economy worse (not true), of being bad for business (not true), raising taxes (not true) – well, you get the picture. Rachel Maddow took a devastating look at the lies of Mitt Romney, where she literally took him apart – by the simple expedient of proving that he has routinely lied about even the smallest things, depending on the day of the week and who he’s speaking to at the time.

It’s obvious that the Republicans are not happy with Mitt Romney, and frankly, I can’t blame them (I can’t stand him, either.). He is just another in a long line of extremely weak Republican presidential candidates: Bob Dole, John McCain, and now, Mitt Romney. And when you think of the candidates who have dropped out along the way in both 2008 and this year, the picture becomes even bleaker:  nutjobs Tom Tancredo,  Alan Keyes, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani (Mr. “Noun-Verb-9/11“), Mike Huckabee in 2008, and the circus clowns like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and The Donald himself in 2012.

Ironically, the candidates have gotten weaker and weaker as the Republican Party has bulled its way further and further to the right – for which we can thank the crazies in the Tea Party. The Tea Party has forced the Republicans into running ever-more-extreme candidates, and now, they have painted themselves into a corner. At one time, the establishment Republican Party could still have stood up and said no to the extreme rhetoric of the teabaggers, but they refused to do so, and now, establishment guys like Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are most likely kicking themselves, wringing their hands and sobbing into their bourbon-and-branches. In 2012, there were actually a few candidates who might have actually given Barack Obama a real challenge, Jon Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty, but neither of them was crazy or extreme enough to suit the rabid rightwing base, and both of were forced to drop out early on.

Mitt Romney, perhaps once a reasonable Republican moderate, has been forced into adopting extremist rightwing positions on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and in a pretzel-worthy twist, even the healthcare reform he himself enacted in Massachusetts while he was governor. Still, despite his gaffes, his lies and his cluelessness, Mittens soldiers on, and has tried very hard to convince himself and the rest of us that he is draped in the mantle of inevitability as the Republican nominee for 2012. Well, maybe he’s correct — or maybe this campaign will continue on to a bare-knuckled brawl at the Republican Convention in August.

Once the dust settles, we’ll see who comes out on top. I plan to have plenty of popcorn on hand, because if things continue as they are now, neither Rick Santorum nor Newt Gingrich is going to drop out of the race, and if that’s the case, I think the convention is going to be more entertaining than some WWF rasslin’.

But if that Romney staffer is to be believed, the 2012 Republican primary is just like an Etch-A-Sketch, right? Once this bloody dogfight is over, there will be a reboot, the Etch-A-Sketch will be shaken and, magically, all of Mittens’ past words will disappear, along with those of the rest of the candidates and they can all start fresh. It astonishes me, that in this information-overloaded era, where most Americans have access to cable television, the internet and social media sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, the Republicans actually believe that we are all going to have our memories wiped when that Etch-A-Sketch gets shaken.

Perhaps that’s just wishful thinking. I’m not going to forget, and, for the sake of this country, I hope nobody forgets.

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