Seamus, Seriously

I want to make a serious point about the whole Seamus-on-the-car-roof story, and about why it's not something to just roll one's eyes about.

I bring this up in the context of some silliness going around today, launched by consistent nitwit Jim Treacher, who is given a regular space on the Daily Caller website, which is just one reason why you really don't need to visit that site very often -- another reason would be nonsense like the giant banner headline currently gracing its front page, blaring the news that Joe Kennedy III is calling for an end to cheap oil. (Regardless of the idiocy of the story itself, how does this merit top-story status on a national news site?)

Treacher yesterday pointed out that in Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama wrote that he was fed dog meat by his father in Indonesia. This is apparently some sort of rebuff to all the criticism of Mitt Romney over transporting his dog Seamus on the car roof. Treacher warns "libs" that "whenever you bring up the one, we’re going to bring up the other. It’s no fun when we push back, is it?"

This led to much fun and games on Twitter and elsewhere, much of it unserious -- that is, people who think the Seamus story is silly nonsense, having a little harmless fun with another silly nonsense story.

Which is all good fun. But look, it's not just "libs" who bring up the Seamus story. Chris Wallace brought it up. Rick Santorum brought it up. And a lot of non-partisan ordinary people who happen to really love their dogs bring it up.

And people like David Axelrod don't bring it up just because they're "libs" -- they do it because they know it resonates with a lot of swing voters.

Listen to what Wallace said when he interviewed Romney; refering to his own family pet, Wallace said: "I would no sooner put him in a kennel on the roof of my car than I would one of my children."

Much of the punditry out there seem to think that's hyperbole; nobody literally equates a dog with a child in that way. This is where they are wrong. Wallace was quite serious, and a not-insignificant number of dog owners in this country feel the same way.

So, if you have laughed this Seamus thing off; if you have bemoaned the excessive retelling of the tale; if you have thought that Seamus is just part of the campaign "silly season"; imagine for a moment that the story was that Romney put the youngest child in that crate on the roof of the car for the 12-hour trip to Canada.

I'm not saying it's equivalent. I'm saying that for a not-insignificant portion of the American electorate, that's not very far off from their emotional reaction to this story.

In other words, to those people -- and there are a lot of them -- this is a real thing. Maybe not an insurmountable thing, for most of them, but a thing.

Which is why I've always thought it was a mistake for Romney to act like it's not a thing -- to guffaw when it's brought up, and to insist that the dog loved it, and so on.

Again, think how you'd react if it was about the youngest child in the crate.

For the bulk of people, who don't have that emotional reaction to this story, Romney's reaction is fine. And all this nonsense making light of it, and the silly Obama-eats-dog jokes, are all fine.

But those people's votes aren't going to be affected by the Seamus story one way or the other. The dog-lovers of the world, however, are only going to get more and more alienated and angry. Because -- whether you or I can empathize with their view or not -- these folks really, really don't think it's funny.


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