Monday, July 02, 2007

Mitt Romney, Diarrhea, and Torture

Fifteen years ago Mitt Romney strapped his Irish setter to the roof of the family car before taking a 12-hour drive. The story is meant to be an amusing anecdote: The animal was so terrified it was stricken with thunderous diarrhea; Romney’s children, in the backseat of the car, complained about the mess over their heads. Dear old Dad just pulled over, hosed the dog, and the car off, and kept going, bravely salvaging a family vacation.

I’ll just avoid the inane debate over whether or not it was really cruel to the animal, and leave the evidence from the rear windshield as proof enough. What’s more interesting about the situation is that, in avoiding the simple act of compassion it would take to let the dog at least ride inside the car, Romney broke the law. A simple, paltry law to be sure; but it’s illegal to even ride with a dog in the open bed of a pickup, much less strap it in a kennel to the roof of a car for 12 hours.

In the interests of disclosure, I too have broken the law—just about every weekend, like much of campus, I commit the crime of drink. But what irritates me about Romney is that, as governor of Massachusetts, he surely knew of the law, and didn’t mind acknowledging that he publicly broke the law—instead, it was worth a grin and probably a couple votes. When Jon Corzine, governor of NJ, was critically injured in a car accident, he had the simple character to ask the state police to issue him a ticket for not wearing his seatbelt.

Small gestures like that can be important. In the current “War on Terror,” plenty of politicians are showing little disregard for the law. The debates over the use of extraordinary rendition and “enhanced interrogation” are two sad, pertinent examples. Of course, the same Romney who caused his dog to dump its bowels on his windshield is an advocate of those 'enhanced techniques' that have killed dozens of prisoners. It’s not a matter of someone who inflicts cruelty on animals probably also inflicts it on people; it’s an example of someone who has little disregard for the law, whether it applies to animals or to people. And this is a man running for the presidency, the highest office in the nation sworn to uphold the law. Fantastic.

Jordan Bubin '09
PAWS member


  1. I don't get it. How do you strap your dog to the roof of a car?? I get worried that my Christmas tree will fall off the roof, let alone a loving animal entrusted to my care.

  2. Good point--and I've had a tree fall off the roof, too.

    Apparently he stuck the dog in it's kennel, and then strapped that to the roof.


  3. I have to confess to not quite feeling the outrage here. Both liberal candidates and Romney's conservative opponents have jumped to capitalize on Romney's supposed animal abuse. Apparently this is big news.

    I say, "So what?" ALL of the Presidential candidates from the two major parties (with the exception of Dennis Kucinich, who is a vegan and a democrat in only the loosest sense of the word: are carnivorous. As a result of their individual lifestyle choices, hundreds of animals suffer for the few months of their lives and then die cruel deaths. Comparatively, Romney's dog didn't have it so bad.

    Although I think it's nice to call people out on particularly high profile examples of animal abuse, I think most people will think "well, my dear Fluffy has a good life" and go back to eating their burgers, content that by not strapping their dog to the top of their car they are somehow animal friendly.

  4. well that's what PETA does - they capitalize on things.