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I don’t have a dog in this fight, but now I can’t imagine that Mitt Romney has any more chance of carrying Shelby County on Election Day (either of them) than Hooch does of of winning the Westminster Dog Show.
That became cat-eyed clear when I read the other day for the first time the story of the Romney family’s dog and his ride atop the car on a family vacation.
I realize many of you who doggedly follow the political pontifications already know all the leavings on this.
Google showed more than 1 million hits on the topic. There are tee-shirts out there. Critics are taking a bite out of Mitt’s, uh, reputation, and others are countering, I understand, with reports that President Obama ate dog on a trip to Indonesia, where canines are cuisine.
But that’s just a counter-assault to the story of the Romney’s ride.
My first thought was that the family jet must have been in the shop and that the chauffeur for the pets must have been on vacation as well, that the Romneys wanted to sample life as common folks who drive to vacations and find ways to transport their beloved animals.
But when I read a column recently by former colleague and Pulitzer Prize winner Kathleen Parker about how the Romneys let Seamus, ride in a crate atop the vehicle on a 12-hour drive to Ontario, Canada, my jaw just slacked way down like Gomer Pyle’s.
They did whuuuuut?!!!!!
Picture this for a moment: The huge SUV/van/wagon/crossover that carried the Romneys and all their stuff didn’t have enough room for Seamus, a full-sized Irish setter, so he was ushered into his comfortable cage, which was lifted about six feet off the ground and strapped in place like he was another piece of their set by Hartmanns.
For the rest of the day, he felt the breeze in his face – and, we presume, occasional rain, bugs and the vaportrails of diesel semis – without the trouble of hanging his head out the window, as he probably enjoyed doing.
No, he lay there and did his doggie thing, even, Parker writes, missing a timely pit stop, which required a longer pit stop to hose down the kennel and the dog.
I’ll pause while you consider having to execute that chore at some rest stop in, say, Vermont.
Also consider the similarities between the Romneys’ trip and that of the Griswold family during Chevy Chase’s drive across the U.S. in the original and overpoweringly funny Family Vacationmovie.
No, I’m not talking about the part where Art tied the family dog to the bumper and forgot about him until a police officer pulled him over miles down the road, although we wonder why some sort of pet friendly enforcement officer didn’t note the Romneys’ caged animal and wonder about the safety and cruelty issues.
But think about when the Griswolds’ grandmother passes away on their trip to Wally World. Rather than stop and deal with her demise, they simply wrapped her like a (grand)mummy and put her atop the car for the next few hundred miles. At least Seamus didn’t fall off like Grandmother did – that we know of.
Surely the Romneys have seen that movie. Surely they see life imitating art. Surely they knew this would soil their political cage, too.
But apparently not, and what we have here is a Muttgate or Mittgate or some other -gate – one that wasn’t closed before the animals got out.
This was before Romney had political advisors, we presume.
But politics is sufficiently dog-eat-dog – or President-eat-dog – without adding this little bone to the opposition’s cupboard.
I mean, let him insult any segment of society that he wants. Let him pound the pundits. Let him assault the sensibilities of mankind. Let him berate everyone and everything. But don’t fence the ferocity of pet lovers.
I know that painfully. We did that here at The Sentinel-Newsby suggesting animal supporters in Shelby County didn’t work together for the good of petkind. They growled, hissed and scratched at me, chewed on my cushion. For a while, I thought I might require shots. It was nasty.
But I learned a very clear lesson:
You don’t mess with Texas, and you don’t mess with pets. Not ever.
Never would anyone ask me for political advice, but on this topic I feel at least a bit pet-schooled.
This cat just didn’t get it, did he? Come May and November, he will.
Some fifth-level aide will be scanning election results from Kentucky and note that in one county Romney was beaten like a day-old rug.
Analysts will wonder why, and we will know the obvious.
In Shelby County, that dog won’t hunt.