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Before the iPad, there was the Etch-A-Sketch, and I was an ace

March 21, 2012 |  2:40 pm

Besides fortifying his boss' flip-flop credentials, Mitt Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom took me and lots of baby boomers on a nostalgia trip Wednesday when he likened the Romney campaign to an Etch-A-Sketch. As my colleague Morgan Little describes in more detail, Fehrnstrom suggested Romney could tack to the center in a general election because the campaign was like the red-bordered screen with the two white knobs.  "You can kind of shake it up," he said, "and we start all over again."

As a child, I developed two un-marketable skills: writing backward (also known as mirror writing) and drawing better on the Etch-A-Sketch than I could with pen and paper, which was pretty good. Somewhere in the clutter in my apartment is an Etch-A-Sketch a relative presented me a few years ago to see if I still had it. I did a not-bad self-portrait and signed my name. (I'm not in the league of Sketchers who can reproduce artistic masterworks.)

Etch-A-Sketches still exist. (They even have their own website.) But a lot of kids, if offered the choice, would probably choose an iPad. The Etch-A-Sketch, after all, has exactly one app.

It's too bad. The Etch-A-Sketch tested and taught manual dexterity and forced the Sketcher to mine his own imagination for images.

I also liked what will now be called the Romney feature: Destroying your work and starting over is a good habit for a writer, if not a politician.


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Americans Elect -- bring democracy into the digital world

--Michael McGough

Photo: Matt Ortega's Etch-A-Sketch Romney site is one of the many responses to a Mitt Romney aide's comments comparing the candidate's transition into the general election to the children's toy. Credit: Matt Ortega / www.etchasketchromney.com

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