Run, Bo, run!
We all know the story of how Mitt Romney took his dog for a ride on top of his car. The Romneys were driving up to Canada for a family holiday, so they stored Seamus in a crate on the car roof. Understandably nervous, the poor pooch lost bowel control on the freeway and Mitt had to pull over and wash it all off with a hosepipe. Golly, I’ve written and read that story so many times I almost feel like I was there. You can buy t-shirts with slogans like “Mutts Against Mitt” and “Dogs Against Romney.” Whether Mitt wins this election or not, he’ll always be known as The Guy with a Dog on the Roof of his Car. Within fifty years “Romneyphobia” will become the technical term for a fear of low tunnels.
The saga of Seamus is one of a number of negative stories that have bedeviled the candidate throughout the race – heavily promoted by the White House. It’s often been used by the mainstream media to confirm his “weirdo factor” and the impression that he just “doesn’t get ordinary people.” Hands up: I’ve used it many times myself. But on Tuesday an equally bizarre story broke that deserves just as much airtime – and I don’t know why it has taken so long to get some. For while Romney may have terrified a dog into soiling itself, Barack Obama has gone one step further. He’s actually eaten one.
In his best-selling memoir, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Obama recalls being served dog meat with his stepfather Lolo.
With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy) … Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share.”
What the heck?! Like many Westerners, I regard dogs as a man’s best friend, ranking well above wives and children. The idea that a future President of the United States could calmly eat one is bad enough. That he would so casually record the incident in a memoir is even worse. What does this guy do in the next chapter? Go whaling?
But the really big question here is why didn’t we know about this earlier? Like me, I’m sure many journalists just didn’t get far enough in to Dreams from My Father to spot the faux pas. If you could grind that book down and bottle it, you’d have a cure for insomnia. Couple it with a couple of grams of Edward Heath’s autobiography and you’ve got an elephant tranquilizer.
But given the mainstream media’s intense study of Romney’s life and its constant regurgitation of its many errors, it’s odd that this shaggy dog story slipped through – especially given that Dreams from My Father has been gathering dust on the bookshelves since 1995