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Etch a Sketch: The trend that can’t be erased (and other metaphors)

at 01:53 PM ET, 03/22/2012

The now-infamous “Etch a Sketch” remark by Mitt Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom is still topping Google trends more than 24 hours after it occurred.

Not familiar with what happened? Here’s a slide show to bring you up to speed.

Several Washington Post reporters and columnists offered their takes on the sentence that dominated the headlines, supplanting news about Romney’s momentum after his Illinois primary win Tuesday and the two big endorsements he received on Wednesday.

The Fix’s Chris Cillizza:

Small things are also often seen by voters as a window into the true nature of a candidate or a campaign. It wasn’t that John Kerry ordered swiss cheese on his cheesesteak; it was that in so doing he proved he wasn’t a regular guy. It wasn’t that George H.W. Bush seemed to be amazed at a grocery scanner; it was that it affirmed that he was out of touch with the pocketbook concerns of regular people . . . What Fehrnstrom actually meant doesn’t matter at this point. The Etch a Sketch line will now have a life of its own that will continue to be a sore spot for Romney and his campaign for the foreseeable future.

Columnist Dana Milbank:

Etch a Sketch?
Actually, it appeared more like Romney was playing Chutes and Ladders: He just landed on Space 87 and slid all the way back to 24. Suddenly, Romney’s event at an American Legion hall here in the Baltimore suburbs was transformed from a gab session about gas prices into an Etch a Sketch fest.

The incident was described as “catnip for cartoonists” in the Comic Riffs blog. Ruth Marcus offered some suggestions for where the Romney campaign could start shaking things up, and Jennifer Rubin called it symptomatic of the media’s “perverse fascination with non-gaffe gaffes.”

Romney moved up to second place on the @MentionMachine leaderboard, his wife called the incident a distraction on “Piers Morgan,” and Business Week reports that Ohio Art, which makes the Etch a Sketch, tripled its share price since the remark.

A meme of this magnitude — and propensity to inspire metaphors — deserves a name. Milbank called it a “Toy Story” and variations of Etch a Sketch-gate have been tossed around. What should we dub the flap? Vote in the poll below or add your own clever suggestion in the comments section.

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