Two weeks ago, I wondered whether the “Dog War” between the Obama and Romney campaigns was over. Once the story about the president eating dog meat as a boy came out, I thought that had to be the end of the endless columns by liberal pundits resurrecting the story of the Republican nominee’s dog Seamus riding to Canada on the roof of the family car. And when that was followed by the story about Romney saving a drowning dog (and a family of six, but apparently most Americans are just interested in the dog), I was sure that Democrats would decide to simply let the pet angle go and concentrate on more substantive criticisms of the GOP candidate. But I was wrong. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, the Obama campaign is apparently committed to the idea that there is a canine path to victory. According to the Post, the president is using the family dog Bo to front an Internet fundraising appeal pitched to pet lovers:
One Internet ad starts with a two-toned blue background, like dozens of other pro-Obama spots. Then the furry star pops into the frame, tongue out and ready to frolic. “Join Pet Lovers for Obama,” the ad implores.
The unlikely pitchman is Bo, the White House family pet, who may well be the first “first dog” to emerge as a central player in a presidential reelection campaign.
So while President Obama got some laughs at the White House Correspondents Dinner joking that “My stepfather always told me, ‘It’s a boy-eat-dog world out there,’” his strategists really still seem to think the dog issue works for him.
I suppose you could point to a dozen examples of hypocrisy and double standards in the press every day. But here’s a mighty good one, courtesy of Breitbart.com. It shows Keith Olbermann highlighting the issue of Mitt Romney’s treatment of his dog Seamus when it potentially hurts Mitt Romney. (For those lucky enough to be unaware of the story, in 1983, Romney put his family’s dog in a crate strapped to the roof of the car for a drive from Massachusetts to Canada.) But when Olbermann was on ABC’s “This Week” and the dog issue threatened to damage Barack Obama, Olbermann dismissed the story as trivial and unworthy of a moment’s discussion. (In his autobiography, Obama admitted to eating dog meat as a child.)
Now I happen to think that this focus on dogs is ludicrous and tells us exactly nothing of importance about either man. But what Olbermann is doing is what essentially much of the rest of the press is doing, which is to take a silly issue seriously right up to the moment that it no longer hurts Republicans, in which case it suddenly becomes a distraction from the grave challenges facing America (Jonah Goldberg make this point quite well here.)
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.