Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Shake! Shake! Shake!

Shake! Shake! Shake!
Robot Romney

Editor’s note: This post is part I of the Etch A President Saga, a satirical series on the 2012 Election campaign.

“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 it all over again.”

—Eric Fehrnstrom, speaking March 21 on CNN

Deep inside Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign headquarters in Boston, the Republican candidate is pontificating on why he loves firing people, how he has no concern for the very poor, and where he parks all of his Cadillac sedans. Longtime adviser Eric Fehrnstrom walks up to Mitt and hits the OFF button. Mitt’s face freezes. Fehrnstrom sighs as he turns to the only two other people in the room

“This is no president, it’s a walking gaffe-machine!” exclaims Thomas Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“What do we do?” says Joshua Bekenstein, co-founder of the venture capital firm Bain Capital.

When the real Mitt died two decades earlier, his private equity firm teamed up with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to preserve the body and reanimate it robotically in a bid to install a tax-slashing Mormon in the West Wing.

“What do we do?” says Fehrnstrom, giving Mitt’s head a furious shake. “We try again.”

The expression on Mitt’s face changes from ruthless and greedy to caring and compassionate. Fehrnstrom hits the ON button.

“I love the poor!” Mitt exclaims. “Hiring people is my business! I drive a beat-up old truck!”

“How did you do that?” exclaims Bekenstein.

“We’ve installed a new program into robo-Mitt called the Etch A President, designed by our friends at Apple,” explains Fehrnstrom. “Inspired by the Etch A Sketch toy, it allows us to literally shake away Mitt’s personality flaws and reprogram him into whatever the fickle electorate desires from their leader at any given moment—be it a blue state governor, religious zealot, compassionate conservative, or pro-business capitalist. You can shake him manually by the chin, or via these three Etch A President iControllers. One will stay here, one will stay inside Bain’s offices of the John Hancock Tower, and one will remain inside The Salt Lake Temple in Utah.”

The men nod.

Fehrnstrom grasps Mitt’s chin and shakes furiously. His face again goes blank.

“A gaffe is only problematic if the public remembers it,” says Bekenstein. “And let me assure you that America’s moronic and forgetful minds will forget the image almost as quickly as we shake them out of the Etch A President.”

“Mitt says something wrong, we give him a little shake and start over,” adds Fehrnstrom.

“A very American idea,” says Monson. “The dream of second chances and third tries, of starting over and never giving up. Like when our spiritual father Joseph Smith persevered in traveling across America to find the Promised Land of Salt Lake City, even when people cursed at him and tried to kill him.”

“Let’s try this again,” says Fehrnstrom, hitting Mitt’s on button.

“Hello, Eric,” says Mitt. “Did I overhear you mention the Etch A Sketch?

“Indeed you did,” says Fehrnstrom.

“You know, I’ve never actually used an Etch A Sketch. But I am friends with the CEO of the toy manufacturer, the Ohio Art Company.”

Bekenstein jumps up and furiously shakes Mitt’s face, which immediately goes blank. “We want to portray Mitt as a man of the people, as someone who would have played with an Etch A Sketch,” he says.

“Right,” says Fehrnstrom. “Now Mitt, what were you saying?”

“The Etch A Sketch was founded by a true blue American company in the great Midwestern state of Ohio, where I won resoundingly in the GOP primary earlier this month, 37.9 percent to 37.1 percent over Rick Santorum.”

“Wonderful, wonderful,” says Monson. “Tell us more.”

“Well, like I was saying earlier, I think the Ohio Art Company is fabulous, just a fabulous company. Smart, too. To save labor costs, in 2001 the CEO moved their manufacturing operations from to Shenzhen, China. Something I would also have done, as a man who likes to fire people.”

Monson grabs Mitt’s chin and shakes.

“Shake, shake, shake!” says Fehrnstrom.

“Shake, shake, shake!” says Bekenstein.

“Shake Mitt’s body!” sings Fehrnstrom. “Shake Mitt’s body!”

Monson takes Mitt by the hands and stands him up. They begin to dance.

“I first purchased a gun when I was a young man and I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life!” Mitt says.

“Shake, shake, shake!” says Monson. And now all four men are standing and dancing, singing “Shake Mitt’s Booty”

“I’m a rodent and rabbit hunter!” yells Mitt.

Bekenstein gives him a little shake.

“A Harvard-educated hunter!” says Mitt.

“Yes!” says Bekenstein. “And your favorite book?”

“L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth.”

“Shake, shake, shake!” says Fehrnstrom.

“The Bible!”

“All three parts!” says Monson.

“Hitler’s Mein Kampf isn’t so bad either, the man was ahead of his time,” says Mitt. “He liquefied coal during the Second World War—technology is still there. He hated black people too, like my spiritual father Joseph Smith.”

“Shake, shake, shake!” sings Monson.

“Viva Hugo Chavez!” says Mitt.

“Shake, shake, shake!” says Bekenstein.

“Universal healthcare!” exclaims Mitt.

“Shake Mitt’s body!” all three sing.” Shake Mitt’s body!”

More from Election 2012
The Etch A Sketch Campaign
It’s Over
Tick Tock: Santorum vs. Time