Gail Collins is really funny today, no matter what your political perversion is now. That is one reason to subscribe to the New York Times.
But maybe that is what we are all waiting for, i.e., someone to wash George Bush's body count of dead young Americans, and Barack Obama's count of jobless Americans, off the "car".
Dogging Mitt Romney
By GAIL COLLINS
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 the United 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.