Presidential politics heats up – canines take action nationwide

by Bruce A. Smith 

Yes, I had a heart attack about two weeks ago and someday I’ll get around to telling y’all about it, but suffice to say I am getting healthier and stronger, and for the past week or so I’m answering emails and reveling in the many phone calls.

 One email has come across my computer screen that must be addressed – the pictures about the dogs in Mitt Romney’s life that I received from my friend Ronnie, who grew up with me in Garden City, NY and then moved to the Boston area after marriage.

 Ronnie has always been a fierce defender of wildlife, not a trait widely found in suburban Long Island, so I greatly valued our friendship during our high school years.  Over time, though, we drifted apart.  Yet, when our elderly parents drew us back to the old neighborhood, Ronnie and I reconnected.

 Ronnie is a fanatic dog lover.  She takes Myra, her Irish Setter, on vacation to a dog spa every summer, to a spot known as Dog Mountain, located in the pastoral hills of Vermont.  They even send me a vaction postcard from Dog Mountain, and during the holidays they include vacation photos in their Christmas card.

 In addition, I understand that Ronnie was a constituent of Mitt Romney’s when he was Governor of Massachusetts a few years back, and as a dog owner she has a vested interest in his current bid for the Republican nomination for President.  Apparently, Mitt and his family took a vacation that included the family dog, an Irish Setter named Seamus, and the manner in which Mr. Romney treated the dog during that vacation trip is now exploding in the media.

 Apparently, Mitt put Seamus in a cage and strapped the box to the roof of the family station wagon on a vacation trip to Canada.

 Apparently, it was akin to torture.

 Many hours – and miles – later, Mitt was forced to pull over and wash-off the defecation that Seamus deposited over the outside of the family car, and afterward they reportedly continued on to their Canadian destination.  Once there, family members intervened and Seamus was given a new home.

 The story has leaked out via recent columns from a Boston Globe reporter and has been championed by a New York Times columnist named Gail Collins, who finds a way to weave the Seamus story into every piece she writes about Mr. Romney. 

 Ms. Collins’ elaborate conceit is now legendary in its own right, and I have read at least a dozen references to Seamus and Mitt in political commentaries by Gail.  Generally, I am annoyed by them.

 But many readers are amused and now I understand that I am witnessing the development of a cultural phenomenon.

 This week in the New York Times, Ms. Collins has explained the entire doggie-on-the-roof saga and the evolution of the canine-based outrage against Romney.

 Ronnie has now enveloped me in the phenomenon, too.  She sent me doggie pictures that are too cute – and too pointed – for me to ignore.  They have roused me to action and have allowed me to overcome chronic drowsiness from the medications and their concomitant side-effects of blurry vision to make this post.

 I’ve posted Gail Collins’ column in its entirety so you have her take on the subject, and I’ve included the pix from Ronnie.  I am violating a ton of ethical standards in posting all this without anyone’s approval and I am sure there is a bunch of copyright infringements.  Frankly, I don’t have a clue about how to get permission to post any of this, and I don’t have the strength to try.

 Nevertheless, since it is always easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission, I’m publishing.  As for my legal defense, I’m on a boatload of medication and I pre-plead medical incompetence.  To whit: when the medical unit from South Pierce Fire rolled down my driveway last week, I told them my “head was not attached to my body,” after I had collapsed in my garden while urinating one day after discharge from the hospital.  Hence, the lingering effects of my medical treatments should give me cover.

 Further, my medical records from Good Sam should also reflect that I proudly announced in cardiac surgery during my stent placement that I was very impressed that I still understood English despite the many pharmaceuticals they had put on board.

 Here is Gail Collins’ story about Mitt Romney’s dog.

 Dogging Mitt Romney

 By Gail Collins

Published March 7, 2012

 I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but Mitt Romney once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter on the roof of the car.

 Seamus, the dog-on-the-roof, has become a kind of political icon.  You cannot go anywhere without running into him.  There are Seamus T-shirts and endless Web sites.  This week, the story was a New Yorker cover, with Rick Santorum playing the role of the Irish setter.

Neil Swidey, the Boston Globe reporter who first broke the Seamus story in 2007, wrote recently that he had been avoiding a return to the topic for fear that someday the dog would wind up in the lead of his obituary.

Which I can totally understand.

The story took place in 1983, when the Romney family made a 12-hour pilgrimage from Boston to a vacation home in Canada.  Romney, his wife, Ann, and their five sons were in the station wagon.  Seamus was in a crate, or kennel, on the roof.

 At some point — possibly in response to the excitement about being passed by tractor-trailers while floating like a furry maraschino cherry on top of the car, Seamus developed diarrhea.  And Romney, who had designated all the acceptable rest stops before beginning the trip, was forced to make an unscheduled trip to a gas station.  Where he kept the family in the car while he hosed down the station wagon and the dog, then returned to the highway.

“It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management,” Swidey wrote.

People, does any of this sound appealing?  Elect Mitt Romney and he will take the nation on the road to the future.  Some of us will be stuck on the roof.  The rest of us will be inside singing camp songs and waiting for the day when the master plan lets us stop to visit the bathroom.  Plus, anybody who screws up on the way to the future gets the hose.

Anyhow, we are now at a post-Super-Tuesday lull in the campaign, and I am ready to answer Seamus questions.

Haven’t you brought this episode up like about 10 million times already?

I’ve made a kind of game of trying to mention Seamus every time I write about Mitt Romney.  This is because the Republican primary campaign has been an extremely long and depressing slog, and we need all the diversion we can get.

It’s as though you’re saying this is the most important fact about a possible future president of the United States.

You could argue that the Seamus story puts Romney in a more human context.  This is not just a quarter-billionaire with approximately the same gift for the common touch as Scrooge McDuck.  This is a real person.  A person who once drove to Canada with the family dog tied to the roof of the car.

In a kennel, right?

“This is a completely airtight kennel, mounted on the top of our car.  He climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself,” Romney told Chris Wallace in a Fox interview that began with Wallace, a dog owner, demanding: “What were you thinking?”

Wait a minute, if the kennel was airtight, how did Seamus breathe?

Excellent question.  Also hard to envision the animal continually trying to leap on top of the station wagon in order to enjoy its delights.

So that’s it from Romney?

He did once suggest that the Seamus publicity was a plot by PETA to get even with him for allowing rodeo performances at the Winter Olympics in Utah.

I bet President Obama would never put Bo on top of a car.

Yes, the Obama campaign has been eager to point this out.  Although, really, if you’re the president of theUnited States, you can give the dog his own helicopter if you want to.

I should note that when it comes to presidents and dogs, Romney would have to go a long way to match Lyndon Johnson, who once held up his beagles by the ears for photographers.

Is it even legal to drive around with a dog on top of your car?

Chris Wallace did ask Romney if he knew that he was breaking a Massachusetts law against cruelty to animals.  Mitt did his heh-heh-heh thing and pleaded ignorance.  The law is actually kind of vague.  But I will point out that a member of a group called Dogs Against Romney drove to a protest in Colorado with a model of Seamus on top of his car and was stopped by the police.

I heard a rumor that when the family got to Canada, Seamus ran away.

Seeking sanctuary?  Mitt’s sister Jane told Swidey that the dog developed a tendency to wander, and that she took Seamus to her home in California where there was more space.  She also gave The Globe an extremely cute picture of Seamus cuddling with some kittens.

Does Romney have a dog now? I’m not sure I want to see Seamus II in the White House.

Romney occasionally says, “We love our pets.  Heh. Heh. Heh.”  The Romney camp hates talking about Seamus-related issues, but there’s no evidence of an actual family dog at the present.  If there is one, I’d hate to think of how it travels when they fly between campaign stops.

****************************************

Editor’s Note:  Arff!

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10 Responses to Presidential politics heats up – canines take action nationwide

  1. Yes, there are all kinds of stories about all the candidates, including Obama, told by people who stretch the truth, remake the truth, imagine the truth, plagerize the truth, takes bits and pieces of someone else’s truth or bits and pieces from a news cast, interview or speech and blast it out as Gospel truth. I don’t believe Romney or anyone else in the public eye would behave in such a manner. Maybe he should have flown the dog in his own plane to Canada, then we would hear nothing but sour grapes about that.

  2. Jofannie Karla says:

    Heart attack? Please, when you’re able, let your readers know what happened. And recover quickly….I’ve missed you.

  3. I am still chuckling. Thank your for my laugh for the day. I am also delighted to see you in greater health. With love and gratitude for what you are accomplishing. Bettye

  4. Mary Schooley says:

    Wishing you a speedy recovery. Mary Schooley

  5. Bill Pollock says:

    Bruce, real sorry to hear of your health issues. Hope you bounce back stronger than ever! Missin my Mountain News.

    Take care,
    Bill

    Oh, and, sympathy from the fairer gender never hurts, does it…. 🙂

  6. Merry Ann Peterson says:

    All the best on your road to recovery. Merry Ann

  7. Pat Forman says:

    Bruce, Glad to see you back also. Take care of yourself.
    Thanks once again for the candor of your reporting. And you managed to throw in a bit of humor also.

  8. Joe says:

    My next door neighbors used to beat their chiuahua named Charley often, and he ran away too!
    Maybe mr. mitt abused his dog more than once too ya think ??????

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