Toys R Our Politicians

So Mitt Romney has a problem with people thinking his political views constantly change, and then his own campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom comes up with the perfect analogy by comparing Romney’s campaign to an Etch A Sketch.

By the way, if you need a spokesman but are on a budget, I know one who is going to be available for cheap for a while.

I realize, though, that some younger readers may not even know what an Etch A Sketch is, as it’s rather pointless in the era of iPads and Xboxes, and it wasn’t even that great before. It’s this toy where you draw on a screen by turning two knobs, one moving the cursor up and down and the other moving the cursor left and right. I, like most children, could only ever manage to draw stairs on it. The only real fun was resetting the screen, which you did by shaking it really hard, but there were other toys that were much more fun to shake, like the one I made myself by putting cats in a burlap sack.

So is Romney like an Etch A Sketch? Maybe. But to reset him, someone would have to run up and shake him, but he already has Secret Service protection, and it’s their job to make sure that doesn’t happen. So maybe his resetting is not really a big concern.

Anyway, all this talk about the Etch A Sketch made me realize what dumb toys I had as a kid. You see, I’m from probably the last generation to play with stupid toys like the Etch A Sketch and Lincoln Logs and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, because this was during the dark ages before the days of sophisticated video games that you can basically spend your whole life playing. I did have video games as a young kid, but they were on the Atari, which had pixels as big as your fist and boring, repetitive gameplay. It wasn’t like Skyrim, where you fight dragons and join the Thieves Guild and the like. Instead, it was jump over a guy. Then jump over the next guy. And then the next guy. And you and whatever you were jumping over were weird, blocky shapes you couldn’t even really make out. So eventually you’d get bored of Atari and choose between playing with dumb toys and playing outside. So obviously dumb toys.

Since these toys were stupid and pointless, they do make good metaphors for politicians. I don’t know if Etch A Sketch would be my choice for Romney, though. Obviously, he’s been compared a lot to a Ken doll because he’s so plastic-like, but he reminds me most of Pick-Up Sticks. Pick-Up Sticks were never anyone’s favorite game. But if all your other toys were broken or your parents took them away because they were weird or dangerous, then Pick Up Sticks was a perfectly serviceable game, and you’d go ahead and play it… though you’d rather play with something much more exciting.

As for the other candidates, Rick Santorum makes me think of Bible Trivia. It’s good to know your Bible, but sometimes you want to play something else. And sometimes you think you’re getting that with Santorum, but he always ends up back at Bible Trivia.

Newt Gingrich… well, he doesn’t remind me of a kid’s toy. He makes me think of a modified version of Russian Roulette. You put one bullet in the chamber of a revolver, spin the cylinder, then point it at your enemy and pull the trigger. Then you point it at yourself and pull the trigger. Then you point it at random passersby and pull the trigger.  With Newt, you know he’s going to eventually go off and take someone out, but you just don’t know whom. Maybe he’ll launch a great attack on Barack Obama. Or he’ll go after some moderator at a debate. Or maybe instead he’ll attack Paul Ryan and his budget. It could be anyone! What an exciting game… one your parents really don’t want you playing.

Ron Paul is like Dungeons & Dragons. It’s this game a few people are highly devoted to and spend all their time playing, while most other people look at them as a bunch of weirdos.

As for the candidates who have dropped out, Rick Perry would be a Red Ryder BB Gun. What a cool, awesome toy that you’re super excited for — you just have to be really careful, or you’ll shoot your eye out.

His campaign was not careful.

Michele Bachmann makes me think of that cymbal-banging monkey toy, which seems kind of neat but eventually creeps you out with its weird crazy eyes.

Herman Cain is like Silly String. Lots of zany fun, but can explode near open flame.

Jon Huntsman is Chinese Checkers.

Tim Pawlenty is a simple rubber ball. Everyone has one and plays with one, but it’s completely unremarkable.

And the primary itself has been like Monopoly, or at least as I played it as a kid, never having read the actual rules. We’d keep throwing tons of money in the middle of the board, which you’d win by landing on Free Parking. This made the game go on forever. It would start out fun, but it would just never end and eventually everyone would just get bored and quit… which unfortunately isn’t an option with the Republican primary.

And Hungry Hungry Hippos has been in the news lately, since they just made this big blockbuster movie based on it, The Hunger Games, and that game reminds me a lot of Congress. Just think of our tax dollars as white marbles and Congress as a bunch of hippos competing to gobble them all up. Of course, in the actual game, the game is over when the marbles run out. But in Congress, they just raise their marble ceiling and keep gobbling away. And you’re the one who has to go buy them more marbles. Actually, you buy them on credit, which your children or your children’s children will have to repay. And that will affect the amount of marbles you were counting on having for retirement

Okay, I might be straining that metaphor a bit.

Finally, there’s Barack Obama, and I think we’ve all had a toy like him. One we were super excited for and dying to have and about which we screamed, “Mommy, you have to get it for me! You have to! You’re racist if you don’t buy that toy for me!” And then when we finally got it — it was just boring and pointless and stupid. For me, that was X-Ray Specs. There were ads in all the kids’ magazines for them, and they promised to give you x-ray vision! I sent away for them and was so happy to finally get a pair… only to find out that they merely distorted your vision a bit so your fingers looked thinner and darker and a little like bone. They weren’t even mildly fun. They were completely useless and pointless. I guess if I’d thought for a moment before sending away for them, I would have realized there was no way they could deliver on that promise. I guess I was too caught up in the excitement to think clearly. So that’s what Barack Obama is: a couple trillion dollar pair of X-Ray Specs. Great toy choice, America!

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