Commentary Magazine


Does this Mean the Dog War is Over?

The Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher performed a public service yesterday when he wrote a blog post that may well remove the dog issue from the 2012 presidential election. While liberal columnists and Obama campaign hacks have spent the last few minutes yucking it up about the supposedly abusive treatment of Mitt Romney’s dog Seamus during a 1983 family road trip to Canada, Treacher dug up an excerpt from President Obama’s best-selling memoir that can’t be pleasing to all those “Dog Lovers for Obama” members. In a wonderfully humorous piece titled “Obama bites dog,” Treacher noted that during his childhood stay in Indonesia, the president ate dogs.

The president’s supporters say the identity of the animals he consumed, apparently without complaint and with no later regrets, as a child ought not to be an issue in a presidential election. They are right about that. But the same can be said about all the nonsense written about Romney’s dog. Treacher’s quip about the Secret Service needing to worry about the safety of presidential dog Bo is no more or less foolish than the equally funny jibes about Seamus. Which means that in order to spare the president any further embarrassment, Democrats may cease and desist trying to exploit the Seamus issue. Or at least the Twitter war between Romney and Obama’s strategists over this stuff will come to an end.

Of course, neither story is really to the discredit of either man. People in some countries eat dogs the way Americans eat cows, sheep and pigs. Making a big deal about Obama’s Indonesian cuisine is silly. As for Romney, as I wrote when this story was first getting traction, a trip in a dog carrier enjoying the breeze on the top of a car obviously did Seamus no harm even if it seems like an odd or poorly considered decision. And even if one thinks ill of Romney’s method of dog transportation, it’s not clear why something he did in 1983 ought to be considered an issue, while talking about virtually anything Obama did or anyone he associated with during the same time is considered insensitive or racist.

But as we all knew already, logic or reason never had anything to do with this. In the last generation, normal partisan sparring has escalated to the point where each new president provokes a new derangement syndrome among his opponents. Democrats will say anything they can to tear down Romney, especially things that might chip away at his wholesome image. Republicans will do the same to Obama. But now that both parties each have a dog issue to belabor their opponents, perhaps deterrence will set in and we will hear no more of this. At any rate, let’s hope so.

Unfortunately, the underlying problem goes a lot deeper than the superficial concerns about canine safety or cuisine. Democrats’ hatred for Republicans is so deep that many on the left are not talking about Seamus in order to make partisan points, but because they actually are ready to believe Romney is guilty of animal cruelty in the same way Republicans are often prepared to buy into any story, no matter how unlikely, that would paint Obama as a villain. This willingness to demonize our political opponents is the real problem–not the dogs.