pa - limp - sest
a writing material used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased
Eric LaMont Gregory
The noun pa•limp•sest (pa-ləm(p)-sest) can also describe an article that exhibits diverse layers that only become apparent when one looks beneath its outer surface.
This word and its underlying meaning, in retrospect, has come to symbolize the defining moment in the Santorum bid for the Republican nomination for the presidency.
It will also, in retrospect, come to be seen as the defining moment for Mitt Romney.
A device, a toy, that utilizes the palimpsest principle cleverly, the etch-a-sketch, crystallized in the mind of the public the contrasting ideas being espoused by Santorum and Romney.
Although Santorum cast the first stone in the palimpsest controversy, however Romney seems to have weathered the attack and turned it, and the thrust of the Republican nomination process to his advantage. And, this debate may come to symbolize the ability of these two candidates to reach out to the most important element in any campaign, that is, the voting public.
The palimpsest stone cast by Santorum was to convey Romney's tendency, in Santorum's view, to change his stance on a host of issues as easily as one can change a message or image drawn on the face of the etch-a-sketch toy. And, Romney as the gesture was supposed to play out, changes his views readily, the Santorum campaign charged.
Romney's response, which seems to have played well with the public, was to say yes I can change, yes I am willing to respond to what the electorate is telling me, and no I am not embarrassed to learn in public.
By contrast, Romney's campaign retorted, Santorum obviously cannot see beyond his own single layered viewpoint, and that is at odds with the view that America is best seen in the light of its rich and multiple layers of opinion, many of whom are not revealed until one looks beneath the surface of contemporary shouting matches.
What Santorum hoped would be a knockout blow to Romney and his campaign fortunes, turned out to be his own Waterloo.