by Jim Stewart
T-shirts. Bumper stickers. Dog bandanas and coats. Fridge magnets, signs and posters. If it can be cranked out by the incredible American merchandising machine, it is on the drawing board and taking form right now. Not to mention the blogs, websites, and most of all (wait for it)…..the 2nd thoughts people are starting to have about this guy.
Will it stick? Who knows. It’s a long time from February till the Republican Convention and even longer to the election in November. And a lot can and will happen during the twists and turns along the path in the most high stakes chess game/poker match of all — to become the next President of the United States.
One has to wonder what Mitt Romney would have thought in 1983 of the plethora of merchandise he has spawned from strapping Seamus [pronounced Shay-mus] , the family Irish Setter, in a dog crate with some kind of homemade windshield to the top of his station wagon for the 12 hour trip to his parents’ Lake Huron cottage in Ontario on a family vacation. They famously had to stop at a filling station and hose down the back of the station wagon, the dog crate and Seamus because Seamus’s bowels had let loose. Then, Seamus was put back in the crate on the roof and they continued on their trip into Canada.
If any of you watch Stephen Cobert, you may be aware that someone fed up with Rick Santorum’s rants against gays decided to give a new Google definition to the word Santorum. We’ll leave you to do the Google on that (brace yourself). Not to be outdone, someone also decided to give a new definition to the word “Romney”.
The story of the 30 year old incident originally broke in 2007 by Neil Swidey of the Boston Globe, but it is now haunting Romney on the campaign trail as it seems to be taking on a life of its own. And on January 8th of this year Swidey followed up with What our fascination with Mitt Romney’s dog Seamus says about our culture. Good article, and if you really want to see the effect on culture you need only Google “crategate mitt romney seamus” or look at merch being offered on Dogs Against Romney.com. And just think: the Photoshop guys (and gals) haven’t even gotten started yet.
Romney detractors say the incident shows a lack of empathy in his decision making process for those less fortunate who can’t speak for themselves (what are now being called the 99%). Romney supporters point out that his emotion-free crisis management is exactly what is needed to find solutions to the complex problems in our society. Personally, I just can’t imagine strapping a dog, windshield or not, to the top of a vehicle for even a 30 minute trip let alone a 12 hour cross country journey. No wonder the dog shit himself.
I can appreciate doing something stupid, I mean, I do it every day. What gets me is that after making the ludicrous decision to put the dog on the roof (which is insane), and after the dog lets you know in the most graphic way possible that it is under extreme duress, and after he pulls over to a filling station to wash down the car, dog carrier, and the dog, what does he do? He puts the animal back in the carrier on top of the roof and carries on. If this is a good example of emotion-free crisis management, it is more insane than putting the dog on the roof in the first place. Emotion-free crisis management would have been realizing the plan isn’t working and changing the game plan. Even way back in 1983 they made these things called luggage racks. And that’s not emotion, that’s logic.
It remains to be seen how much and how many voters will be influenced by “Crategate” and will they let this incident influence their decision for something as important as who leads their country. One thing is for sure: this thing has legs…
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