Mitt Romney has a sensitive side, after all — and that side of him has felt most wounded by attacks on his one-time, long-ago treatment of Seamus the Dog, the Romney family’s former pet. At least, that’s what he recently told Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview.
The Seamus story was first unearthed in 2007 by a reporter at The Boston Globe assigned to write a piece about Romney for a biographical series the newspaper published. By now, almost everyone knows the tale because, as Chris Cillizza put it, “Seamus is the dog who won’t die — politically, at least.” In 1983, the Romney family loaded up the family station wagon to drive from Boston to Ontario, strapping Seamus’ dog carrier — with Seamus inside — to the roof of the car. At some point on the trip, though, Seamus became ill (“he really had the runs” is how Ann Romney put it). Evidence of his sickness dripped down the window until the oldest Romney boy, Tagg, noticed it and yelled, “Dad! Gross!” Romney pulled into a nearby gas station, hosed down Seamus and the car, reinstated the dog in his carrier and strapped the carrier to the roof once more. In other words, he kept calm and carried on …
Plenty of Romney opponents have painted the episode as illustrative of Romney’s allegedly uncaring attitude — not just toward dogs, but toward everything. They’ve cited the Seamus story as evidence of Romney’s “otherness,” yet another way he’s out of touch with ordinary Americans.
But in the interview with Sawyer, Romney not only said he has been most wounded by attacks that include a mention of Seamus. Ann Romney also said Seamus “loved” trips atop the car.
I grew up in semi-rural California. Back in the day it was commonplace for dogs to ride in the back of pick-ups. Even people rode that way. When I was about 15 I took a 3-hour trip to the far side of Yosemite Park in the back of a pick-up that didn’t even have a tailgate. The guy driving was a California Highway Patrolman.
Standards change. Now it’s illegal to transport people in the back of a pick-up and dogs have to be tethered. But I can still remember dogs with their heads out a car window, expressions of bliss on their faces as the wind made their ears flap behind them.
The Romney’s dog was riding in an enclosed carrier. I’m sure it was a little breezy but probably not much different from riding in a convertible with the top down. Back in the days before air conditioning driving down the highway with the windows down was the only way to travel here in the summer.
Would I recommend transporting your pets that way? Probably not, but I would not assume you were being cruel and inhumane if you did.
Exit question: Would it have been kinder to leave Seamus locked up in a kennel with strangers while the family took a vacation without him?