Given the Obama administration’s own love of the Etch-a-Sketch, as demonstrated by Jim Geraghty’s famous — and ever-growing — Expiration Date riff, and particularly on display this week in both macro and micro forms, the most electable opponent this fall will be a man who eschews postmodernism and the Memory Hole, and who really stands for bedrock principles of conservatism and traditional American ideals.
Host: Is there a concern that Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?
Romney Communications Director Eric Fehrnstrom: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.
As Michael Walsh writes at the Corner, “Notice the implied premise of the phrase, ‘tack [too] far to the right:'”
[A]s if being on the right were an extreme position compared with the sensible center or, God knows, the morally preening Left. But it’s the center and all those wonderful moderates out there in the dark that’s gotten us into this pickle, by accepting the Left’s narrative that “progressivism” is inherently good and “conservatism” inherently reactionary. Since when did fidelity to the Constitution, belief in good old-fashioned American values of individualism and enterprise, and a desire to preserve the country as founded become an “extreme” position? (Since the introduction of “critical theory” by the intellectual mountebanks and malcontents of the Frankfurt School, is one answer, although the poison of progressivism goes back at least to TR and Wilson.) This election is not about the most efficient running of the regulatory state: It’s about its dismantlement and the rebirth of personal liberty. If, by virtue of the long primary battle, Romney begins to articulate that, as he did last night, terrific. Even better if he actually believes it. But if it’s just Say-Anything Mitt telling the rubes what they want to hear so he can finally put Gingrich and Santorum away, then all the moderates in the world won’t save him from electoral defeat by a motivated Left and a dispirited Right.
“If the statement above does not reflect Romney’s own thinking,” Bryan Preston writes at the Tatler, “then Eric Fehrnstrom needs to be jettisoned from the campaign. Romney delivered a great, and very conservative sounding, speech after winning Illinois last night. He picked up a major endorsement today from Jeb Bush. Fehrnstrom, though, suggests that Romney’s speech constituted nothing but lies and he’s stepping all over his candidate’s message.”
In a round-up of reaction to what he calls “the Kinsleyan gaffe of the year thus far,” Allahpundit adds that prior to this gaffetastic moment, “I could imagine conservatives nominating Romney if he swore up and down that he’d be a right-wing warrior while in office:”
There’s always a chance that he’d be telling the truth and a chance is all you need to justify voting for a guy who stands the best chance of knocking out The One. But here’s one of his very top aides all but telling you that “severe conservatism” is rhetoric aimed at getting him through the primaries — and yet we’re going to go ahead and nominate him anyway. Think this is the guy who’s going to the mat as president if a Republican Congress gears up to advocate sorely needed yet unpopular spending cuts and fiscal reforms?
Newt doesn’t, in a response that’s both brutally satiric and effective:
Update: Equally brutal response from PJTV alumnus James Poulos: “SYMBOLISM: In an iPad era the talk of the GOP is the Etch-a-Sketch.”