Etch-A-Sketch and Old White Guys

There’s been a lot of talk–gleeful and rueful–about the “Etch-a-Sketch” comment by one of Mitt Romney’s advisors. (For those who missed it, the advisor was asked by a CNN reporter whether he worried that Mitt had been pushed so far right during the primary process that he would be unable to attract moderates during the general election; he responded that he wasn’t concerned, because the general election was like an Etch-A-Sketch–you shake everything up and start over.)

The remark underscored one of Romney’s biggest problems: the widespread perception that there is no “there” there–that he is Mr. Inauthentic. But I think it displayed an even more fundamental disconnect.

Today’s GOP has become a party of old white men who don’t understand how people communicate in the world of twitter and Facebook. We saw this during the last campaign–John McCain was often (aptly) described as “an analog candidate for a digital age.”

Romney’s advisor wasn’t wrong, exactly, about the nature of the primary and general campaigns–he was simply behind the times. It used to be that candidates could target voting blocks and special interests with direct mail appeals that flew under the radar of the electorate at large. It used to be that primaries could be conducted as largely “in house” contests–and it was usually only political junkies who would read the traditional media’s reporting on those primaries.

We don’t live in that world anymore. Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, among others, have altered the political landscape; people see a ridiculous remark, or are angered by a political position, and post it. Posts go viral. Literally millions of people are drawn into arguments that would have been “inside baseball” in days gone by.

And speaking of days gone by–nothing says old-fashioned and out of touch like a reference to Etch-A-Sketch.

Romney’s problem isn’t just that he’s willing to say anything to anyone. It’s that he and his team of old white guys don’t understand the world they now live in.


  1. He has a different message recorded on each track of his eight track cassette player, which is stored right next to his Slinky.

  2. Now the GOP wants to demean that intriguing invention, the Etch-A-Sketch. I never consiered this a toy but found it a challenge to use; at times I even let my kids use it. The old white men want to return all women to the state of barefoot and pregnant, keep us uneducated and under paid – if allowed to be employed – and move this nation back into the 19th century. They reduce communication to a string stretched between two tin-cans. Yet they use the media to spout ridiculous theories then deny they ever said them. The Tea Party and GOP have moved so far to the right that they have fallen off of the edge of the earth they believe to be flat. At least the men have pushed the silly GOP women who were possible presidential candidates out of the equation and left their intelligent, qualified Democrat counterparts to shine in this 21st century.

  3. I think the last line of this quote says it all: ” It’s that Romney and his team of old white guys don’t understand the world we now live in.”

    I graduated from high school in 1952; my generation was removed from the growing-up years of my mother ((ca 1920) by radio; my grandmother was raised on a farm with no electricity and received 90% (guess) of her information from local sources. Perhaps television played a role in the seismic shift that occurred in the sixties, but, for whatever reason, the generation of the ’60s kicked up a storm–some for the better, some not so good. My point is the “rules” for girls didn’t change much between my grandmother’s day and mine, but after the ’60s, it seems we are intent on re-inventing ourselves, i.e., “Boomers (now retiring in droves), X-Generation, Me-Generation.” It is a whole new world “out there” that you have to born into to understand.

    It looks like we are re-inventing the playbook in international affairs, economic (now worldwide) affairs, personal mores–everything. We are feeling our way for new solutions to old problems. O’Bama seems quite at home in that world. The Republican candidates are preaching to an old choir; pray that the youngsters coming up will have the wisdom to see this. And, just maybe, as the “Boomers” retire, they may take their wisdom into public service. Best of both–closer to the problems of today without the financial pressures of earning a living. I would love to see people like Peyton, Eli, and Cooper Manning, Jeff Saturday, Tebow bring their energy and ideals to politics, even though don’t know what their personal politics are. Hint!! Hint!!

  4. I graduated from high school in 1960, and even that long ago, campaigns were for the most part about issues and how this or that candidate would deal with those issues.

    Now. . .it’s come down to Etch-A-Sketch and the 3,000 sweater vests. By the way, the stock price for the parent company of Etch-A-Sketch has soared completely through the roof! That says a lot about the candidate and his constituency. Makers of sweater vests? I don’t even want to know what their stock has done.

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