June 29, 2007

“Emotion-free” something, all right…

Posted in Animals, Politics at 4:19 pm by The Lizard Queen

I realize that for every pet owner out there who treats her dog like a human child, there’s at least one other pet owner who treats his dog like an object, something incapable of feeling sensations, let alone emotions. Check out this anecdote from Mitt Romney’s past, which was featured in Wednesday’s Boston Globe:

The white Chevy station wagon with the wood paneling was overstuffed with suitcases, supplies, and sons when Mitt Romney climbed behind the wheel to begin the annual 12-hour family trek from Boston to Ontario.

As with most ventures in his life, he had left little to chance, mapping out the route and planning each stop. The destination for this journey in the summer of 1983 was his parents’ cottage on the Canadian shores of Lake Huron. Romney would be returning to the place of his most cherished childhood memories. . . .

Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family’s hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon’s roof rack. He’d built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.

Then Romney put his boys on notice: He would be making predetermined stops for gas, and that was it.

So, Romney had the presence of mind to construct a windshield for the dog crate, but it didn’t occur to him that riding on the roof of a station wagon for 12 hours might still be less than comfortable — indeed, one might go so far as to say extremely fucking unpleasant — for a dog? Maybe Seamus liked to put his head out the car window, so Romney thought this would be that much more fun for him. Somehow I suspect it was more likely that he wanted to bring the dog on vacation for the family’s fun and amusement, but didn’t want to put up with actually having him in the car. And, of course, it gets worse (by the way, if you’re eating, I don’t recommend reading the rest of this post until you’ve finished):

As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ”Dad!” he yelled. ”Gross!” A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.

As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.

For one thing, I take issue with the way this passage is written (and I don’t just mean the grammatical errors). “Payback”? I really don’t think so. Based on my experiences with animals, I’m inclined to guess that — advance apologies for the sort-of pun — the poor dog was literally scared shitless. I can’t imagine that being hosed down and left to shiver on the roof for the rest of the trip made things better.

Or maybe it wasn’t that the dog was scared; maybe it was simply that Seamus was unable to shoehorn the needs of his G.I. tract into Romney’s schedule. Either way, this doesn’t reflect well on the former governor, and I’m not the only one in the blogosphere who thinks so.

“But wait,” some might say. “This incident happened 24 years ago!” Let’s examine that as a rationale. “Yes,” Romney could say, “I strapped the family dog, in his crate, to the roof of our station wagon. I didn’t realize how unpleasant that might be for an animal, but I know better now.” A response like that wouldn’t excuse anything, but it would be a start. However, here’s his actual response, courtesy of Wonkette:

Romney dismissed any outcry about the 24-year-old incident, saying the dog enjoyed his rooftop perch.

“He scrambled up there every time we went on trips,” Romney said at a campaign stop in Pittsburgh Thursday. “He got it all by himself and enjoyed it.”

So… diarrhea is a sign of a cracking good time in the Romney household, eh?

On second thought… I don’t want to know.

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