Commentary Magazine


Topic: Seamus

Obama Campaign Doubles Down on the Dog

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.

Read More

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.

Bo is one of a long line of famous presidential pets. But though these dogs, cats and other critters (Theodore Roosevelt’s large young family had a veritable menagerie) have gotten a lot of attention from the press and in one case — Franklin Roosevelt’s dog Fala —a mention in a famous campaign speech, none were ever the focus of fundraising appeals.

As the Post explains, it’s all part of a crafty marketing plan that employs micro-targeting tactics that hone in on very specific demographic slices of the electorate. That means the president’s Portuguese water dog is fronting for not only fundraising efforts aimed at liberal dog owners but is also the face of a merchandising line that will sell Bo stuff like dog sweaters to Democratic consumers.

Viewed in isolation, it all seems harmless enough. If those who idolize the president are so besotted with him that they feel the need to purchase merchandise featuring his dog, so be it. But there are two problems with the amount of effort the Obama re-election team has devoted to this tactic.

First, there is the danger, articulated by at least one strategist quoted in the Post article, that the Obama campaign is so caught up in the details of its various clever strategems that they lose sight of the big picture. Even if one buys into the concept that there is a rationale for specifically organizing pet lovers to vote for Obama, and count me among the skeptics on this point, at best, there is an extremely marginal audience probably not worth the expenditure of valuable resources even for a campaign as loaded with loose cash as that of the president.

Second, one can’t help but feel that the decision to feature Bo was motivated by the belief that Romney was actually vulnerable to charges of pet cruelty and that it was to the president’s political advantage to put his own family dog in the spotlight. Apparently, his staff took all those columns written by Gail Collins about the sufferings of Seamus a little too much to heart. In this case, life in the liberal echo chamber has consequences and has led to a misguided decision to try to make hay out of an issue that has no traction for the president.

None of this will decide the election, but if I were Bo, I’d be worried. Contrary to all those jokes on Twitter, I don’t think he’s in any danger of being eaten by his owner. But pets that are kept principally for their political appeal are likely to be cruelly discarded when they no longer serve that purpose. Socks the cat was a major figure in the Clinton White House though not part of the 42nd president’s re-election campaign (and to his credit he also didn’t figure in any of Clinton’s personal scandals). However, when the Clintons left the White House they dumped Socks, giving him away to a secretary. But better that than ending up as an Indonesian snack.

Read Less

The Election and Stupid Dog Tricks

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.)

Read More

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.)

I’d simply add that the fact that the Obama campaign has been doing all it can to raise the issue of Romney’s trip to Canada demonstrates how desperate and childish it has become. To go from “hope and change” to attacking Mitt Romney over Seamus-the-dog is quite a descent. And unfortunately, I suspect it’s simply a preview of coming attractions.

 

Read Less

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.

Read More

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.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.