To defecate in terror: Mitt Romney gets Google-bombed
While the 99 percenters are destined to play a significant role in the 2012 presidential election, there is now another percent that very well may undermine the candidacy of Republican primary frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Let us call it the 39 percent movement.
Perhaps more damning than Bill Clinton's "zipper problem," George W. Bush's "cocaine problem," John Kerry's "Catholic problem" and Barack Obama's "progressive problem" combined, Romney's "animal cruelty problem" has the potential to isolate a dog-lover demographic that cares so deeply for the 78.2 million canines in America that it spends more money pandering to pets each year than most countries claim in total gross domestic product.
The story itself isn't new.
More than five years ago, Boston Globe reporter Neil Swidey wrote about how, in 1983, Romney strapped his Irish setter, Seamus, to the roof of his wood-paneled station wagon during a 12-hour road trip to his family's cottage in Canada. His eldest son, Tagg (not to be confused with Trig) "noticed a brown liquid running down the rear window" of the car. In what was spun as "a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management," Swidey reported that "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."
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"The overall idea here is that Mitt Romney is unfit to be president because of the way he treated his dog," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow remarked during a segment of her Jan. 12 show.
Fox News's Lanny Davis wrote exactly that in an article titled, "Why Romney's 'dog on car roof' story makes him unfit to be president":
Anyone who puts a dog in a cage on top of a car for a 12-hour drive and then deludes himself or tries to delude others that the dog really enjoyed it -- to me, with all due respect, I feel such a man shouldn't be president of the United States.
The resurgence of the late Seamus Romney's scatological mishap in mainstream media has led his primary opponent Newt Gingrich to use "Crate Gate" in an attack ad titled, "For the Dogs." Worse, Romney's "animal cruelty problem" has also become a "Google problem."
You remember Rick Santorum's Google problem? Rick Santorum famously said that same-sex relationships were akin to man on dog relationships. In retaliation for that and other things, proponents of gay rights Google- bombed Rick Santorum. They redefined his last name as a vulgar, sexually explicit term and then they pushed that redefinition of the word Santorum to the top of his Google search results via a website called SpreadingSantorum.com. There is now a SpreadingRomney.com Web site, which is about poor Seamus. And it defines the word Romney as a verb, which means... (to defecate in terror).
In Bill Wasik's 2009 book, And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture, the senior editor of Wired magazine recalls how MSNBC's Chuck Todd coined the term "A.D.D. Election" to describe the 2008 campaign, where "nanostories" such as John Edwards's $400 haircut "each followed the same pattern observable in the case of Seamus Romney -- the quick, breathless uptake and a slightly slower but inexorable decline into oblivion."
What is "most striking" about the Seamus Romney story, Wasik says, "is it's forgetability, how indistinguishable it seems in retrospect from the idiots' parade of meaningless stories that came to define the campaign."
Alas, it's not meaningless anymore. The story is back with such a vengeance that those who pooh-pooh poor Seamus's poo-poo story will face the contempt of the 39 percent of American households that own dogs.
For a Republican candidate who already has plenty of difficulty connecting with average Americans (his religious beliefs, his one percent status, his inconsistent stances on everything from abortion and women's rights to the auto industry bailout and TARP), this could be damning.
And how scary is that -- that a bunch of crazy dog lovers can undue the presidential ambitions of a man whose "emotion-free crisis management" skills could backfire in such a way as to disenfranchise millions of voters?
Romney's probably romneying himself just thinking about it.
(Cross-posted at Muddy Politics.)