June 5, 2011

Why Mitt Romney, Pet Abuser?, isn’t Old News. ~ Harris Mercer

Photo: MittRomney.com

Recently, as part of his ongoing campaign to distract GOP voters from the fact that he passed compassionate, forward-thinking, popular (84% support!) statewide universal health care while governor of Massachusetts, which is somehow now considered a liability in today’s Republican party, Mitt Romney, like many others, attacked President Obama for saying what American and Israeli leaders have said for years: that a two-state solution in the Middle East will have to be based on alterations of Israel’s pre-1967 borders mutually agreed to by Israelis and Palestinians.

Romney used a common political cliché: Obama, he said, “threw Israel under the bus.” By picking this widely-used metaphor, though, he inspired a stinging comeback that was the perfect size for a tweet:

Yes, folks, that’s right. If you haven’t heard the news, sit down. As New York Times columnist Gail Collins has a hilarious fondness for mentioning at every available opportunity:

In 1983 Mitt Romney drove all the way to Canada with his kids’ Irish Setter, Seamus, strapped to the roof of the family car.

Photo: ABC News

Since the Boston Globe revealed this very interesting factoid in early 2007, there’s been widespread discussion of what, if anything, this says about what kind of president Mitt Romney would be, and whether it was cruel to the dog.

It certainly violated Massachusetts animal cruelty laws which, two decades later, Romney would be tasked with enforcing.

Ingrid Newkirk, the always-controversial president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said:

“The wind, the weather, the speed, the vulnerability, the isolation on the roof, it is commonsense that…the dog was, basically, being tortured.”

For Romney’s kids, Newkirk says, it constituted “a lesson in cruelty.”

Romney has not only defended what Time magazine called his “Cruel Canine Vacation;” he has attacked those who criticize it: “They’re not happy that my dog loves fresh air.” Yes, that must be what motivates them.

In this case, Dr. Russell Cumming, a professor of aerospace engineering at California Polytechnic State University, says that “assuming sea level conditions, the poor little dog would have about 10 pounds per square foot pressing against his head.” He added, “My wife’s a vet and she would be more worried by the dehydration of the dog’s eyes.”

Douglas Osheroff, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, also weighed in, saying that, “Beyond a certain velocity, the air flow becomes turbulent. …The airflow isn’t going to be laminar…[and] would buffet the side of the dog. That would be tiring.”

When you’re a presidential candidate, Nobel Prize winners are asked to for analyses of mistakes you made a quarter-century ago—especially mistakes you won’t say you regret, and that arguably constitute animal cruelty.

Photo: Vanity Fair

Mitt Romney’s latest book is called No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. (For the paperback, in addition to belatedly changing his views on the Obama administration’s Recovery Act to bring them closer into line with current Republican orthodoxy, Romney shortened the subtitle to simply “Believe in America,” which is now his campaign slogan, as shown at left with the classic design that apparently inspires him.)

And if he’ll make “no apology” for treating his pet the way you treat a pair of skis you don’t really care about, I’m guessing he probably won’t apologize for passing universal health care, either. The fact that only one of those two things is considered objectionable by modern Republicans, and it’s the one that saves kids’ lives, not discomfits their dogs, tells you something about today’s conservatives.

Or not. It could just be a funny fact that I thought you should know. Personally, I’d be tempted to pledge to donate to any Republican candidate, no matter how objectionable, who brought it up in a debate. Now that would be good television.


Harris Mercer is a new resident of Boulder and a native of New York City. He served as National High School Director with Students for Barack Obama at Obama for America throughout the Democratic presidential primaries in 2007 and 2008. At Bennington College in Bennington, VT he got to study both his obsessions: politics and Shakespeare. He is an elej intern, but his views are his own and do not represent those of elephant journal. He can be reached at harrismercer [at] gmail [dot] com and wants you to go to http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com.

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