Mitt Romney is front page news right now after his announcement of his running mate, Paul Ryan. Which is unfortunate for me as when I see Mitt Romney, I can't help but recall a story that breaks my heart. It's about Romney's dog, of course. Perhaps some of you remember the original story, which broke in 2008, about the Romney family vacation with their dog Seamus. The Romney family elected to place Shamus in his crate strapped to the roof of their vehicle for the 12 hour drive to Ontario from their Massachusetts home. I'll pause for a moment to let you digest the full implications of that. A family pet strapped to the roof of a speeding vehicle exposed to severe wind and any elements or debris that exist at the time. But that's not even the worst part. At one point, one of the Romney boys noticed that there was fecal matter streaming down one of the windows of the car. Poor Seamus had soiled himself on the roof of the car and it was running down the windows. They stopped and cleaned the car, Seamus and the crate but placed him back on the roof for the remainder of the trip.
Now that's just stupid. Who in their right mind thinks that placing a beloved pet on the roof of the car is a good idea? Who thinks after said pet defecates in utter terror that placing him back on the roof makes sense? Given that this happened nearly 3 decades ago, you would think that Romney would have taken the time to realize his mistake and be ashamed that he was ever so stupid. You'd be wrong. The Romney family instead has chosen to make the insane statement that their dog enjoyed being strapped to the roof of their station wagon! When Ann Romney said, "The dog loved it" I nearly died. Obviously. I mean Seamus literally defecated with glee – that's not really a sign of joy in my book. But have no fear, she had an explanation for that too. She explained he "ate turkey" and "had the runs" but continued to vigorously defend that he liked to be strapped to the roof in a crate. I feel incredible pity for their publicist who has probably begged and pleaded for them to simply apologize and acknowledge their mistake. But no, they defend it. When asked by Diane Sawyer if he would place Seamus on the car roof again, Romney's only response was, "Certainly not with the attention it's received". Perfect. It's not about treating your beloved Irish Setter humanely, it's about not creating political fall out. Treating an animal like that demonstrated a lack of emotional connection, a cruelness and a coldness that exemplifies a persons character. Scary.
But have no fear my Republican friends, Obama is not much better when it comes to treatment of animals. I personally found it heart warming when he promised that he would adopt a dog from a shelter once elected. I found it equally heart breaking when he didn't do that. He had an incredible opportunity to demonstrate to America as a whole that we don't breed and buy while homeless pets die. He could have been an advocate for animals simply by following through on his promise. But he didn't. I understand that cross culturally dogs aren't revered as beloved pets across the world. However, I also understand that as a guardian and advocate of animals, they are to me as an American. It was documented in Obama's memoir how he ate dogs as a child. Therefore, I found his joke years ago concerning pit bulls and Sarah Palin to be offensive to say the least. The joke was "Do you know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious.. with a little soy sauce!". Not funny. Especially given the tumultuous state for pit bulls in the news media and society at large. Do we really need any more suggestions, even tongue in cheek, as to what other despicably cruel things we can do with that breed?
The Humane Society has given Obama a C- rating concerning his positions on animal welfare issues. In fact, last November, he signed an agriculture bill to allow horses to be slaughtered on US soil. Yucky. The administration pledged to take action against internet sellers of puppies and to ensure that the USDA was inspecting these facilities, however, this has yet to come to fruition.
It saddens me that come November the choice for President of the United States is between two men who can't even manage to be kind to animals. Both men have demonstrated that they can be completely dispassionate and lack any emotion in making decisions, which can be a positive or a negative. That quality remains to be evaluated.