This is a story about when stupid jokes stop getting stupid and start getting real. If you think I've used the word stupid too many times already, get used to it because I'm just getting started.
I'm not a Mitt Romney fan for all the reasons a liberal would not be a Mitt Romney fan. Accordingly, I've had a great deal of fun with the Saga of Seamus, the Romney family dog who was strapped to the roof of the car for a family trip. It has everything you want in a profoundly stupid story: it fits certain useful narratives (a robotic candidate acting soulless and the vulture capitalist who is even mean to his dog), the candidate can't respond to the story without sounding stupid (Mitt said that he wouldn't put a dog on the roof if he knew people would get upset, which is exactly the wrong answer, and just what you'd expect from a flip-flopper) and it prominently features diarrhea. For all of these reasons it has had remarkable staying power in the public imagination, via sites like Dogs Against Romney, for example, even if it rarely makes it into the mainstream media by anyone not named Gail Collins.
But, like I said, it is a really stupid story. Ann Romney finally went on the offensive, claiming that Seamus loved riding on the car roof and that he loved going on vacation with the family because it beats being in the kennel. And you know what? I've assumed that all along. A trip on a car roof is no different from a ride in the back of a pickup truck and every time I get a few miles outside of the city limits, that's what I see. And when I see a dog in a car in the city… he's sticking his head out of the window. The Seamus meme generally maintains that the dog got diarrhea because he was terrified during the ride; Ann says no, that he ate turkey off the counter and… well, that's probably too specific but I'm willing to accept that Seamus got the shits because finding the worst possible time to have gastrointenstinal difficulties is basically what dogs do. Hell, taking a long family trip in a station wagon with five kids and a dog is literally the only human behavior I've ever seen attributed to Romney.
(This whole line of attack is more like the Swift Boating of Kerry than anything else with the caveats that (a) nobody is lying about whether Seamus was on the roof whereas there is no real evidence that Kerry lied about his injuries and (b) it would have been a huge, non-stupid deal if Kerry had lied about his injuries, so basically it is like Swift Boat in that it is pure political nonsense that is impossible to respond to without having the principal effect of prolonging the story.)
Alas, every stupid story attacking one side has to have an equally stupid story in response. Today, the Daily Caller found the perfect one: on page 37 of Dreams From My Father, President Obama offhandedly noted eating dog as a child in Indonesia. If strapping a dog to your roof is bad, eating dog is worse. And, though there are obvious reasons why this is silly (he was six; he didn't choose his diet; if your culture doesn't keep dogs as pets, meat is meat (we'll get back to this one)) kudos to Jim Treacher for sussing out a great joke and really hammering it home. On his post, Treacher keeps jabbing at Obama, implying that Bo is not safe with Obama around. This led to a million jokes about Obama eating dogs on Twitter none of which bothered me. It is a stupid joke playing out the string. Obama ate dog; if we can't joke about that why bother telling jokes.
Sadly, here's where the record scratch comes and I stop sounding like someone who has a sense of humor. That I have let the word "diarrhea" do most of the heavy lifting so far, humor-wise, isn't making much of a case for me either, I admit.
It didn't take much time for the joke to get out of hand. #Obamadogrecipes was, to me, the death of the Obama-ate-a-dog joke. The brainchild of Iowahawk, the Obama Dog Recipes hashtag exploded. But, seriously, this is gross and kinda racist. Not racist against Obama but once you've hit the realm of "dog recipes" the joke isn't really about Obama anymore. It is about weird cultural practices that other people have and we don't. Substitute "Obama" with "Korean" or "Indonesian" in the hashtag and see if that doesn't make you a little uncomfortable. Even Iowahawk admitted that he was a little uncomfortable about it.
As stupid as the Seamus story is, the joke never turned into something about Mormons or even vulture capitalists. It was just a joke about a guy who hosed off a dog that was shitting itself on the roof and then stuck him back on the roof and kept driving. When Obama eating a dog jokes are about Obama, I have to admit that all is fair in politics. When the joke shifts to everyone taking an old racist standby about foreigners for a few laps around the track… ick.
Stop it. That's the entirety of my point, despite how long it took to get here. Stop it.
I can't believe this is what I came back to the blog for. I'm going to go pet my cat.