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Mitt Romney Shakes His Etch-A-Sketch, But Women Don’t Forget

Frankly, I was surprised that Rick Santorum threw in the towel last week. The numbers made clear that a path to winning the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination was all but impossible for our favorite radical Christian, but the current slate of candidates have never gone in much for reality. I think it’s the practicality of the move that stunned me.

With Santorum disposed, Mitt Romney’s remaining competition includes King of Hubris Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, who indicated throughout the entire primary that he understood his campaign’s futility. Quite an inspiring duo aren’t they?

So the candidate nobody in the GOP really wanted, and for whom they still can’t get an erection, is on his way to accepting the nomination in scenic Tampa, Florida this August. Tampa, land of strip clubs and men in trucker hats, seems a fitting locale for a bunch of wealthy, mostly white, patriarchal ideology producers to anoint their sacrificial lamb.

Because now Romney has to shake that Etch-A-Sketch. Game on. (I bet Eric Ferhnstrom, Romney’s adviser and utterer of the ubiquitous sound bite that keeps on giving, wished for a time machine in his Easter basket.) President Obama long enjoyed the luxury of not having to address the freak show exhibits that comprised the Republican primary slate. But now that we’ve got something approximating a general election campaign, he occasionally has to tear his attention away from running a nation facing so many challenges to swat away jabs from Mittens.

To a point I sympathize with the Romney camp. Not only is their man dull as a butter knife (no insult to butter intended), which will only become more glaringly obvious when he enters the debate arena with the President, but he’s also saddled with a comical load of flip flops and rhetorical left turns. I don’t know how his staff will find time to prepare an offense when there’s so much to combat defensively: family dogs on the car roof, Romneycare and the good old Etch-A-Sketch comment just to pick a few easy cherries.

Romney has spent months and years pandering to the GOP power base, social conservatives who treat a belief in global warming or women’s reproductive rights as a “liberal” litmus test. There have been moments when I’ve pitied the open degradation of Romney’s integrity, his unwillingness to stand by his moderate record, but it doesn’t seem to bother him.

That type of radical right kowtowing may have seemed necessary until last week. But Romney has to face the rest of us now, the mainstream whose votes he needs just as badly. And given his limp track record for uniting his own party, Mitt has a tough slog ahead. How do you hit the reset button and arrive at anything approaching credibility?

President Obama excels at campaigning, to put it mildly. He is a wunderkind, an interview subject and debater able to convey intelligence and gravity as well as charm and humor. To watch him make mincemeat of John McCain on the regular during the 2008 campaign tempted invocation of the slaughter rule.

Mitt Romney is in for it. If nothing else, McCain has a personality and the deserved respect of his country as a decorated war veteran. Romney is a corporate viper, a smarmy, colorless ladder climber who approaches the Presidency like an item to check off his career bucket list. He will say anything to win the election, hitching his wagon to the notion that his fellow Americans are a bunch of ADD-afflicted sheep who will forget everything he has said and done in the past to accept his position of the moment.

I don’t think it’s possible to shake the Etch-A-Sketch hard enough to make the nation’s women forget the attacks on their rights this year. That’s slightly over half the electorate right there. Like I said, game on.

Becky Sarwate

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