Mitt Romney’s dog/ God problem

Mitt Romney has a palindrome problem. In case you happen not to know what a palindrome is, it’s a word … Continued

Mitt Romney has a palindrome problem. In case you happen not to know what a palindrome is, it’s a word or number which reads the same from left to right as it does from right to left. In Governor Romney’s case, the problematic palindrome is Dog/God.

Of course, the “dog” is Seamus, a family pet which the Romney’s took on vacation 25 years ago, riding in a dog carrier, strapped to the top of their station wagon. To me, the amazing thing about this story is that anybody cares!

Richard Drew


Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is interviewed by Megyn Kelly during a segment of “America Live” on the Fox News Channel, in New York, Wednesday, March 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

How is it that everybody from political opponents Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney to comedian David Letterman and journalist Gail Collins are getting so much traction with a totally irrelevant story? We are at war in two foreign countries, have unemployment topping 8 percent, a growing debt and deficit problem, and this story continues to grab our attention. Clearly, something deeper is going on.

However much anyone cares about dogs, and contrary what some people say, dogs are not people too. There is nothing obviously cruel or foolish about what the Romneys did, and that is coming from someone who likes dogs and values my own religious tradition’s mandate to care for animals.

The Seamus story, like God, the other half of Romney’s dog/God palindrome problem, is not so much about either the dog or God as it is about us –American voters. We like to see ourselves in our candidates. We like to identify with them as people, and not only with their political positions.

As Romney detractor and Alabama marketer, Scott Crider, who founded Dogs Against Romney remarked, “It really says this guy is not like us and is mean.” Without commenting on the oddness of founding a group which promotes the notion that dogs either have political views or that humans should care, Mr. Crider’s quote says it all.

After all, to claim that Mr. Romney is mean, no matter how objectionable Crider finds this one action makes no sense. So, it all boils down to the fact that Mr. Crider distressed that Mr. Romney is not like him. And the same can be said for the ongoing questions about Mr. Romney’s Mormonism.

Simply put, one could draw out almost as many meaningful theological distinctions between evangelical Christianity and the Roman Catholic faith of candidates Santorum and Gingrich, as one could between any of those traditions and the Mormon faith followed by Mitt Romney. So why don’t voters do so? Because however different those traditions may be, most Americans have come to see all but the latter as ones with which they can identify, even if they don’t always agree.

View Photo Gallery: Scenes of religious faith meeting politics in the 2012 campaign.

The dog/God problem is about what might be called the “folksy factor,” and that continues to be Mr. Romney’s real challenge. It might be wise however, for American voters to step back and place less stock in the candidate with whom they can personally identify, asking themselves instead who really has the best chance of meaningfully moving the country in the direction they would like to see us head.

I am not endorsing Mitt Romney for president. But I am endorsing an end to using irrelevant pet stories and unfounded fear of someone else’s faith as a substitute for the serious debate we need about what that direction should be, and how we get there –whether it’s in a roof-top carrier or not.

Brad Hirschfield
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  • mdance86

    Great read. It’s about time somebody said it. People always say they want a President who is like a common man. My question to them is – so… do YOU think you can run the country? How about your neighbor next door? You’re co-workers? No? That’s because NORMAL PEOPLE CANT RUN A NATION. I want someone is above and beyond a ‘normal guy.’ I want an exceptional man, who is accomplished exceptional things. By any measure, Mitt Romney certainly has done that.

  • david6

    We already had a common man in George W Bush. We are still paying for his failures.

    Still, Romney’s problem is that he comes across as too cool, too emotionless, too purely practical. He’s the guy who fires people because he thinks the only purpose of business is to make money. He guts retirement plans because he can, because the law does not protect workers against corporate raiders.

    He comes across as not only cold, but callous, his defense for putting the dog on the roof is that he put it in an airtight box. Really? Luckily for the dog, he did not or the dog would have died on that trip.

  • gracefield

    Public service. That is what the Kennedy’s felt was an honorable profession with inherited wealth. The thing is…Romneys wealth was NOT inherited. He gave all that away since he had already succeeded on his own. It is not less honorable that he would serve on his own dime never taking a real salary for any of his acts of public service. Instead, he usually donated to the cause he headed….i.e. the Olympics. Should we not be lead by someone of this caliber?

  • lwmiller21

    Look People take there pets to Europe in a pet carrier, it goes into the baggage compartment on the plane with no heat at 44000 feet its cold, and it takes what, 15 to 20 hours to get there. I’ve seen them come out of baggage compartments of trains and busses in the back of pickup trucks.


  • Lilly31


    Romney doesn’t take a salary because it’s a TAX write off..Romney gives to the poor because it’s a write TAX off! Romney doesn’t take a salary because he doesn’t need to and because he will get paid big in other ways…When or IF he were to become President! ULTERIOR MOTIVES! PEOPLE ARE SO GULLIBLE!

    Obama vs this guy! Really? I think I will stick with Obama..Considering this guy.. as people think “Is just too good to be true”

    I didn’t vote for Obama in 08.. but because of this man I will…Do your homework before writing an article like this one! The dog and religion have little to do with him being unable to get elected!

    He is buying an election…because he has other issues..BIGGER ones like he is a can’t relate to the masses of poor and middle class..he is a rich robot !
    Who only knows what the rich do:
    “That they are in trouble if he doesn’t get elected!” TAX CUTS EXPIRE!

    Nobody that is that good needs to spend over $100,000,000.00 to get elected! NOBODY!

    A good man can stand on his word alone and be trusted..he doesn’t fumble around and play a part…He just is a good man..PERIOD!

    So don’t go complaining about OBAMA when you are just looking to replace him with someone who is 100,000,000 times worse!

    If the middle class is gullible enough to elect him…They deserve everything they get..Just like when they elected Obama…and re-elected a congress full of GOP!

  • ccnl1

    Everybody has some kind of problem.

    Brad Hirschfield’s problem is making $384,000+/yr for spouting the dark age mumbo jumbo of Judaism.

  • MHP2012

    In Dog we trust.

  • MollyMormon

    Mister Hirschfield, I greatly appreciate this article. As a twenty-one year old LDS who attends a BYU, this election has shed light on our faith as never before. I was raised Roman Catholic, have only attended Catholic schools and was baptized a Latter-day Saint last March. A BYU professor with whom I am quite close voted for Obama in the last election and plans to do so this election. My non-Mormon parents plan on voting for Romney and they have very, very little in common with him. However, as you stated in your article, they trust Mitt will move the country forward as they see fit. Conversely but along the same lines, the Professor agrees with Obama’s policies and plans on voting for him. We should stop focusing on such petty differences, such as religion and in the last election Obama’s race (Is he white enough or is he black enough, as the Times stated). Every religion has its dark past and religious practices that seem odd when viewed outside the context from which they were meant to be understood. Whatever happened to not offering a religious test for candidacy? In a way, it seems we are imposing one on every candidate this election. Curiosity is one thing, but pointing the finger of blame, ridicule and speculation is quite another.

  • WmarkW

    This whole campaign season has shown nothing but distractive issues designed to divert our attention from the one real problem facing us — unsustainable budgets. Politicians don’t want to talk about it, because there’s no way to tell the voters what they want to hear. And most journalists don’t press it, either, for the same reason. It’s a collusion of our irresponsible opinion-making class, to make us forget that they’re not doing their jobs.

  • ccnl1

    Balancing the budget- a few ideas:

    Only for the newbies–

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?:

    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror like 9/11.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian “religions” and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    Abraham and Moses never existed according to 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

  • myothersoul

    Romney’s wealth may not have been entirely inherited but he was born in to privilege. Certainly he has some talent at accumulating wealth but that skill isn’t one of the top skills we need in a president. Exactly what relevant skills he would bring to the Presidency is unclear. He rescued the SLC games by getting a bunch of money from the Federal government, that model is not going to work for our current budget problem. His experience at Bain capital also does not map on to being president unless he plans on down sizing the government by cutting jobs and selling off the parts of the USA that are not profitable, maybe he would reverse the Louisiana purchase? His time as Governor might be relevant but the president we have has already created a universal health care program. What else does Romney have?

  • myothersoul

    “There is nothing obviously cruel or foolish about what the Romneys did, ”

    It should be obvious that strapping a dog in a carrier to the top of a car then driving a long distance is inhumane. And if it wasn’t when the trip started it should have been when the dog had major intestinal distress midway through the trip. What did Romney do? He stopped hosed off the dog and the carrier then continued on with the dog strapped to the top of the car. Romney isn’t a bad person but he does seem a little short on empathy whether for dogs or for the poor.

  • myothersoul

    I thought the one real problem facing America was a lack of jobs. This election might come down to Americans deciding what is more important, reducing the debt or creating jobs.

  • MinnyMa

    It also reveals someone who has a hard time changing the game-plan. Didn’t it occur to anyone in the family that the dog would need frequent breaks to drink water and run around? A one-time stop for a 12-hour journey is not realistic.

    As regards the God/doG problem — Gov. Romney’s problem is that his given personality is such that he is awkward or reticent around people he doesn’t know. His circumstances have accentuated that rather than mitigated it. His family, his kind of business, his LDS membership and involvement, and finally his wealth, have sheltered him from getting to know people. When Gov. Romney was first planning this dog-on-roof trip, did he talk to other people about it? Neighbors? co-workers? did he say, “we’re planning a trip but how will we get the dog there?” If he had, he might have had more options. The fear is that if Gov. Romney becomes President:
    1) he will be rigid and find it hard to change his governing plan when the circumstances demand it.
    2) he will not have a broad range of advisers giving him useful information — he trusts himself too much.

  • JVanDyke

    I completely agree. Find another reason if you don’t like Mitt Romney…with some substance!

  • sheryl7962

    It’s stunning that the Left Media Obama sycophants have made such an issue of the Romney dog story.

    Yet they glorify Obama, a man who voted no on bill that would have stopped infanticide in his state back in 2003.

    Somehow in their world, Romney putting his pet in a safe carrier (even went Macguyver geek with the carrier putting wind protection on it) but they give a total and utter pass to Obama, who wasn’t interesting in protecting a fetus that survived an abortion from becoming medical procedure waste.


  • spencer1

    Milt Romney is absolutely unqualified to become president. Not because he says he is a Mormon, not because he firmly believes today whatever his advisers told him to believe yesterday. But because he believes, in the total absence of any plausible evidence, in the existence of supernatural beings. And believes (or so professes) that instructions from these mythical beings control his life and influence his actions. Does he speak directly to one of these beings, or are his orders relayed by “spiritual advisers” of uncertain background and minimal accomplishment? In either case this is disastrous behavior for a president, or indeed for any leader who has to make important decisions. If I am sick I want to see a real doctor, not a witch doctor who invokes spirits.

  • stephes7

    Amen, Mr. Hirshfield! Finally, someone in the journalistic field calls for some sanity in how we evaluate the candidates running for president.

  • stephes7

    Are you saying that anyone who believe in a God (supernatural being) is unqualified?

  • plattitudes

    Absolutely! We should have a NON-religious test in order to qualify to be a Presidential candidate! The constitution doesn’t outlaw that!

  • Sara121

    If you are willing to believe in supernatural happenings on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, what else are you will to believe without evidence? An economic plan? A job creation plan? A tax plan? An education plan? A threat to the United States? We wouldn’t knowingly tolerate a president believing any of those things with no evidence at all. We would in fact demand that evidence. I wouldn’t deny someone the presidency JUST because he or she may believe supernatural things. But if such magical thinking is indicative of how such a person addresses other aspects of life, then that person does not need to be in a position to be making decisions for 320 million Americans.


    How can you have a serious debate with a mega-millionaire son of a Senator who straps a dog to the roof of his car?


    But Mitt Romney IS a bad person.


    Mitt Romney’s theme song: “Fortunate Son”

    Some folks are born made to wave the flag
    Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
    And when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
    Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord

    It ain’t me, it ain’t me
    I ain’t no Senator’s son
    It ain’t me, it ain’t me
    I ain’t no fortunate one, no

    Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
    Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh
    But when the tax men come to the door
    Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes

    It ain’t me, it ain’t me
    I ain’t no millionaire’s son, no, no
    It ain’t me, it ain’t me
    I ain’t no fortunate one, no

    Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
    Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
    And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
    Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, yoh

    It ain’t me, it ain’t me
    I ain’t no military son
    It ain’t me, it ain’t me
    I ain’t no fortunate one