“What?” That’s the first reaction when dog lovers watch dozens of now popular YouTube videos that either protest or make fun of how Mitt Romney mistreated his family's dog. The dog in the spotlight is an Irish setter named Seamus. In turn, the Boston Globe reported in 2007 that “Seamus was placed in a dog carrier that was strapped to the Romney family’s station wagon as they began a 12-hour drive from Boston to Ontario.” According to the American Humane Association, at www.americanhumane.org, the organization's goal is to “prevent cruelty, abuse, neglect and exploitation of animals through increasing awareness among the general public.” The American Humane Association advises pet owners to “not expose” dogs or other pets to danger or stress when possible; citing the rule “what’s good for humans is also good for pets.” As for the current status of the Romney family dog “Seamus,” the Boston Globe reported July 10, 2007 that Romney no longer has the dog, after Seamus “was later given to Mitt Romney’s sister, Jane Romney of California, and the dog has since died.”
White House dog reflects the master
“Seamus had the Romney family nickname ‘Mr. Personality’ because he was a social dog," stated a Jan. 12 report on care2.com.
Also, it’s a historical presidential fact that the “First Family” usually includes a dog living in the White House.
For instance, President Barack Obama’s family dog is named “Bo,” and has been described as a “member of the First Family of the United States.”
Bo is also listed as “a neutered male Portuguese Water Dog,” while photos of President Obama and his family both hugging and even kissing Bo are common.
The First Lady has even said they “love Bo.”
Romney dog story “has legs”
In the world of journalism, a story “has legs” when it keeps going and going and going. Such is the case of the Romney family dog Seamus, it seems, from dozens of recent reports in the media:
-- ABC News reported back on June 28, 2007 that “Romney strapped dog to car roof.” ABC News then followed up the very next day, June 29 with another breaking story: “Dog on roof? What was it like for Romney’s pooch?
-- KSDK News in St. Louis reported on Jan. 13 that “Mitt Romney ‘dog on the roof’ story is “appearing in a Newt Gingrich ad.”
-- The website Snopes report back on Jan. 21, 2008 that “Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney transported a dog atop his car.”
-- Time Magazine also had a field day with a June 27, 2007 story titled: “Romney’s cruel canine vacation.”
-- In a more serious report about the Romney family dog, reported by the Associated Press Jan. 14, the AP headline “Attacks on Romney getting personal,” exposed how Romney treated his family pet dog.
-- Time Magazine also focused on Romney’s questionable treatment of his family pet dog in a Jan. 15 reported titled: “Newt: Seamus story paints a ‘picture’ of Mitt.”
-- Rolling Stone Magazine also joined the Romney family dog debate on Feb. 14 with a spotlight on how this story has gone viral on YouTube with the report “Mitt gets his own ‘Google problem.”
Also, this story “with legs” seems to go back to that Boston Globe report from July 10, 2007 when the newspaper headline stated: “Introducing Seamus Romney, ‘Mr. Personality,” while exposing this dirty family secret that this former governor and presidential want-to-be placed a huge Irish Setter dog in a pet container strapped to the top of a station wagon during a 12-hour-trip.
Media keeps Romney dog in the news
The incident has drawn the ire of dog lovers across the country “while Romney’s critics have seized on the bizarre story to question the candidate’s character,” reported politico.com.
According to the initial Boston Globe report – also featured on politico.com today: “One of Romney’s sons, Tagg, noticed that ‘a brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter that had been riding on the roof, in the wind, for hours.’ As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway."
Moreover, Rick Santorum’s chief strategist John Brabender said in a CNN report March 14 that this family dog issue has “hit Romney’s sense of judgment by bringing up the now-infamous story.”
“You’re talking about the guy whose super PAC has already spent 40 million brutally attacking the other candidates, and quite frankly, I’m not sure that I’m going to listen to the value judgment of a guy who strapped his own dog on the top of the roof of his car when hurling down the highway,” Brabender said on CNN, responding to a question about Romney’s jab March 12 that Santorum’s campaign had reached a “desperate end.”
Romney dog story goes viral
Those following this “Romney dog” story online are telling friends to “check out what’s been dubbed “The Romney Family and “National Lampoon’s Vacation” classic movie clip – at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HbBL62IiRE – and watch how Clark (Chevy Chase) has to explain to a cop why his dog is strapped to the car in the same way as what Mitt Romney did all those years ago to his family dog. In turn, such videos parodying the Romney dog incident has gone viral with tens of thousands “hits.”
Moreover, a lead story March 14 in one of the most read newspapers in Washington, D.C. – the Washington Post – continued to report this story with the headline: “Mitt Romney’s dog-on-the-car-roof story still proves to be his critics’ best friend.”
In turn, the Washington Post report featured photos of members of the media gathering around an English bull terrier named “Petey” during a recent protest by a group called “Dogs Against Romney.” The group staged the protest outside the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Feb. 14 in New York City.
Also, this March 14 Washington Post report reminded readers that “it happened more than a quarter century ago, at the start of a Romney family summer vacation. But the tale of Seamus, the Irish setter who got sick while riding 12 hours on the roof of Mitt Romney’s faux-wood-paneled station wagon, is ballooning into a narrative of epic proportions. It has come to characterize the candidate — and not in the favorable way Tagg Romney hoped for when he first talked in 2007 about his family’s annual road trips.”
In addition, the Washington Post noted how Late-night host David Letterman has been “giving the dig near-nightly shout-outs.” There’s also dozens and dozens of parody Web videos, such as the ever popular “Dogs Aren’t Luggage,” with T-shirts saying the same and even Facebook groups forming around the motto: “Dogs Against Romney.”
Comic and painful reactions
According to the March 14 Washington Post report: “To some animal lovers, the story is an example of cruelty;” while the Post featured comments from voters:
-- “It really says this guy is not like us and is mean,” said Scott Crider, an Alabama marketing guru who founded Dogs Against Romney.
-- Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, a Romney supporter, said he did not know the story about Seamus but did not see any harm in an open-air ride.
-- “We carry our dogs around in the back of our pickup all the time,” Otter said. “I’ve got two dogs, and I just say, ‘Get in,’ and they jump in the back.”
-- “It’s a signifier,” Democratic strategist Chris Lehane said. “There are certain events that happen over the course of someone’s life that play into a larger story line and feed into a caricature. Seamus the dog story just plays into a negative story line about a guy who you may not completely trust.”
-- Douglas Gross, who chaired Romney’s 2008 Iowa campaign and has become a sometimes-critic of the former Massachusetts governor, said that when the story surfaced in the summer of 2007, “people scrunched their noses and said, ‘What?’ ”
Dog lovers confused over Romney action
“It’s like the height of the Michigan trees,” Gross said, referring to Romney’s recent comments about the trees there being the “right height.”
“It’s another one of those things about Mitt that seems otherworldly. It seems abnormal and raises questions about who he is and whether he’s one of us," Gross added.
In turn, the Washington Post reported March 14 how “Romney’s aides are sensitive to the Seamus story. Inside campaign headquarters in Boston, a reporter was teasingly admonished recently for broaching the subject, and a campaign spokeswoman did not respond Wednesday to questions about the dog.”
“The candidate has said little about it,” the Washington Post story added of Romney not speaking about his now deceased dog Seamus.
“Top ten other movies about Mitt Romney” from the Late Show with David Letterman, Feb. 21:
10. Dial M For Mitt
9. Mitty Mitty Bang Bang
8. The Mittrix
7. Butch Romney And The Sundance Mitt
6. Mittion: Impossible
5. When Harry Mitt Romney
4. Terms of Endearmitt
3. Mr. Romney Doesn’t Go To Washington
2. Dog On A Hot Car Roof
1. They’re Just Not That Into You
In turn, those 60 million dog owners in America today are also “voters,” said one political historian who noted on recent talk shows that it’s not funny that Mitt Romney’s dog Seamus was once strapped to the family station wagon; while both protests and jokes continue in a country that sure loves its dogs.
Image source of the Romney family dog Seamus. The dog has since died. Photo courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seamus_(dog)