Yesterday was a sad day for America: Dick Clark’s passing had an impact on all of us, from my co-worker who got him confused with Bob Barker and was devastated to Ryan Seacrest who took twenty minutes of private squealing in front of his mirror asking, “Now who’s the charmingest in the land?” before heading out to make a solemn statement for E! News.
But the passing of an entertainment legend eclipsed an uglier story that managed to land in front of me on CNN whilst I was elipticalling at the gym last night. In an attempt to deflect negative attention from his own short-comings as a pet owner, Mitt Romney pointed out that Barack Obama ate dog meat as a kid while visiting Indonesia.
CNN frequently ruins my precious exercise time, but this was uniquely sickening. The fact that I had to go through four pages of google to find an even remotely reputable news report of this (past Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, etc.) is worth noting. The fact that, all things considered equal, eating dog in a country where it’s a culturally accepted thing to do in your father’s native land as a kid could not possibly equate with the cruelty of leaving an animal alone on top of a speeding car for a 12 hour trip, sick in his crate, is also worth noting. Animal cruelty bothers me viscerally: after growing up with a wealth of loving and loyal pets, I could not imagine what would possess anyone to betray a dog’s trust.
But what really made me sick is that Mitt Romney isn’t even the official GOP candidate yet (I mean, he is, but he isn’t) and we’ve already started the irrelevant mudslinging. Mitt is obviously an incredibly bad pet owner (I won’t even get started on Anne Romney’s statement that the dog “loved it.”), but that has very little to do with whether or not he should be President. It’s icky that Barack Obama ate dog as a little boy, but it is absurd, not to mention slightly xenophobic, the way this fact has been jumped on and tweeted about and held up as such a choice piece of gossip on Twitter and the national news. He is the President of the United States. Yes, he should be held morally accountable for his actions. No, he is not above reproach. But don’t his online detractors have any stronger criticism for a president who has made big moves in his first term than to childishly mock something that he did before puberty in a foreign country where it is a cultural norm?
I know this is all part of the political game, but the fact that it’s gotten so petty so quickly is exhausting. I’ll be working out in front of the ESPN TV until Election Day.