Monday, April 23, 2012

A dog-eat-dog campaign

It started out as a funny story that one of Romney's sons told about how strictly his father stuck to plans:

Around 30 years ago the Romney family was taking a road trip to Canada. They wanted to bring their dog but there was no room in the car so Mitt figured out a way to strap the dog's carrier to the roof. Along the way the dog had a case of diarrhea and they had to pull over so that Mitt could hose off the car and clean the cage. Since this was an unscheduled stop, the family was not allowed out of the car for a bathroom break.

The Obama campaign has seized on this with mock outrage - he strapped a dog to the roof of a car! That's abuse!!!!!

This is ridiculous. The Romney family says that the dog enjoyed the ride and there is no reason to doubt them. Since then many states have passed laws requiring that dogs be transported in dog crates. Most dogs, when loose, will stick their head out the window. The Romney family dog was better off than the dogs that ride in the back of pickup trucks but no one is calling that abuse.

Still, if someone yells "Abuse!" loud enough, people listen and nod their heads in agreement.

So, the right has begun to push back. Someone discovered a passage in President Obama's first autobiography where he tells about eating bugs, dog, and snake as a child. A thousand jokes were born overnight.

Obama's defenders correctly point out that the dog-eating took place when he was a child and he never indicated a preference for dog. This is true but irrelevant. He wrote the book as an adult (assuming that it was not ghost-written) and included this passage as an example of how exotic his life has been. When running for president in 2008, he pushed his background as a major qualification for the office. He never indicated that any of it was distasteful. Instead he describes seeing a chicken being killed for the first time and going to bed that night thinking how lucky he was.

Obviously Obama's detractors do not think that he is only keeping Bo around for Thanksgiving dinner but the dog-eating jokes are no less serious than the faux outrage over Romney's dog.

The Obama campaign wants to keep reminding us that Romney is "different" (code word for "Mormon") and "out-of-touch". Several columnists have reminded us that Romney's great-grandfather was a polygamist. This is a poor strategy since Obama's background is far stranger than Romney's and Obama's father was a polygamist.

Likely this is how the campaign will progress.  Obama's surrogates will keep bringing up trivialities. Romney's supporters will find something equivalent and silence that line of attack. During all of this Romney will continue to hit Obama on the economy and Obama will try to convince the country that the economy is doing well.

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