June 28, 1983―a day that will live in infamy. That is the day that Mitt Romney put his dog Seamus in a crate, secured the crate on top of his car, and drove from Boston on up to Canada. This heinous act was first reported in The Boston Globe in June 2007 under the innocuous title “Journeys of a shared life”. The article was not written as an expose of the man’s brutal heartlessness, but as part of a chatty series about Mitt the Man Who Plans. I quote: “As with most ventures in his life, he had left little to chance, mapping out the route and planning each stop. … Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family’s hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon’s roof rack. ”
Neil Swidey, one of the authors, subsequently explained “I certainly didn’t write it to make it the basis on which you judge a presidential candidate. The fact that some people appear to be doing that is a little bit crazy.” Never mind Mr. Swidey, others saw a deeper more sinister meaning than an a bit of amusing family lore. The fact that none of the Romney family was upset or disturbed by the dog riding on the roof can be seen as evidence that Mitt has surrounded himself by monsters as callous and insensitive as he is himself.
Newt Gingrich, a man whose sensitivity is widely admired, ran an anti-Romney attack ad featuring the Seamus story and Rick Santorum explained its significance on the ABC show This Week with admirable clarity: “As far as Seamus the dog … the issues of character are important in this election. We need to look at all those issues and make a determination as to whether that’s the kind of person you want to be president of the United States.”
Sensitive, dog-loving, Obama-adoring, Seamus-sympathizing liberals share the concern of these Republican primary contestants. David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political consultant, tweeted a picture of Obama and his dog, Bo, in the presidential limousine, with the caption “How loving owners transport their dogs”. The New York Time’s stellar columnist, Gail Collins has referred to the incident 19 or 50 times (depending on who is counting). Wikipedia has an article on it, referencing several dozen articles. Mark Halperin, the senior political analyst for Time magazine and MSNBC, believes that a lot of voters consider this “a serious issue.” Two super PACs, ‘Mitt is Mean – The Animal Lovers Against Romney Committee’ and ‘DogPAC’ have been established to publicize the incident. DogPAC aims to have one million people to put bumper stickers on their cars featuring the Seamus horror.
This April Romney admitted that the Seamus attacks were “the most wounding of the campaign so far.” A Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey found that 35% of voters would be less likely to vote for Romney because of the Seamus incident, whereas 55% of voters said that it would not affect how they vote.
Although I keep company with cats and my emotions are not agitated by the Seamus story, it’s clear that the future of this great Republic may be determined by the canine question. So I’ve consulted Dr. Bill Reid on the matter. Bill is well known as one of New Sharon’s leading dog fanciers and his three-legged pit bull Cyrus was widely respected around Farmington. Cyrus is not available for comment, having joined Seamus in canine heaven, but Bill’s view is that his late friend would probably have enjoyed cruising about on top of an automobile, if properly shielded against the wind, as was Seamus on this trip. More, Bill’s experience with his many dogs has been that they grow disconsolate at the prospect at being left behind by their human companions and would generally prefer keeping company with them, even if caged on top of their vehicles.
The Washington Post writer, Ruth Marcus, one of the liberal columnists I regularly read with appreciation asks “Doesn’t the fact that Romney chose to bring the dog on the family vacation, rather than dump him in a kennel back home, suggest that he’s a dog lover, not a hater?” I communicate these views without prejudice, having no opinions of my own on the matter.
On another front in the Dog Disputation, Republicans have discovered that Barack Obama’s Dreams of My Father contains an unapologetic reference to eating Indonesian dog meat. This has produced a You Tube scene of Hitler flying into a rage upon learning that his dog fluffy has been fricasseed, a mocking musical video, a flock of poodle pate jibes, photo-shopped scenes of Obama feasting on Fido, and endless jocular jibes on the Internet.
Such a relief from all those boring statistics about unemployment, deficits, casualty lists, Social Security trust funds, Medicare and other trifles.
About the AuthorProfessor John Frary of Farmington, Maine, is a former US Congress candidate and retired history professor, a Board Member of Maine Taypayers United and an associate editor of the International Military Encyclopedia, and can be reached at email@example.com.
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