Obama: Man Bites Dog

Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past inactive to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.

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59 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    If I were in Indonesia, a guest in someone’s home or worse yet at a business or government function, and I were served roast dog meat, I would probably eat it too, or at least try a nibble of it so as to be polite. IIRC, the young Barack Obama was in that position, as the ten-year-old stepson of a diplomat. But I’d never, ever, put my dog on a kenel strapped to the roof of my car, no matter how securely, under nearly any imaginable circumstances. My dog is a part of my family. She rides inside, with her peoples. If there’s no room in the car for the dog, then other arrangements need to be made like taking two cars, boarding the dog at a kennel, or finding a house-sitter to tend to the dog while the peoples are away.

    With that said, I’m being asked to consider Romney’s suitability for the job of President of the United States, not that of an animal courier. Romney’s mistreatment of his pet indicates a narcissistic personality, at least somewhat incapable of engaging in the experience of empathy. A lack of empathy is a rather common sort of personality trait amongst politicians. Presidents from time to time have to issue commands that they know very well will result in human beings dying, so maybe an ability to disregard empathy and is, in a dark and twisted and deeply unappealing sort of way, a personality trait of Romney’s that shows he will be willing to make a call that will get a little bit of blood on his hands if that is what is necessary. Grim, I know.

    Romney’s decision to double-down by claiming the dog liked it and he doesn’t see anything wrong with what he did is properly understood as a boneheaded response to being put on the spot more than anything else. So while the “boy eats dog” tu quoque is not equivalent, and I’m genuinely appalled that someone would do to their own pet what Romney did to Seamus, at the end of the day this is not much of a reason to vote for or against either candidate.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I agree with the last bit, Burt, and that was the core point.  Mostly I was just reporting from the rightosphere that the dog-carrier story may be a bit blunted now.

      at least as a weapon.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Oh, I see now that Obama was 22, not 10. A little bit different than had he been a young child, concededly. But still, if you had a 22 year old house guest, you’d expect him to at least try the normal-to-you-in-your-culture food you served him.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko says:

        I agree with both of you, with this caveat.  I’d try dog now, as a mid 40s adult, in the right circumstances (which pretty much means it wasn’t my dog and wasn’t someone else’s stolen pet).  In Undaunted Courage, iirc, Ambrose claims that Lewis and Clark (or at least one of them) came to prefer dog to many other meats while on their journey of discovery.Report

        • Plinko in reply to James Hanley says:

          I’ve been offered a fair amount of foods I was not interested in trying in my career (jellyfish, crocodile, birds nest, shark fin soup, blood porridge), but dog and/or cat haven’t made the list. I’m still not sure what I would do if I got seated at a meal with some vendors and suddenly some animal I think of as a pet and not food were offered.

          I honestly doubt it will happen to me, since most people we Westerners deal with already know that a big chunk of Americans might take offense to being offered said animal meats.  It’s like knowing if you have a Jewish guest coming for dinner you probably shouldn’t put scallops or a bacon cheeseburger on the menu even if that’s a very normal dinner for you – one usually tries to accommodate for the cultural norms of their guests (much more than you might worry about their personal tastes).Report

      • I think you get the better of the argument, friend Likko, that the Seamus attack has more potency than Barack-as-dogivore, but for rhetorical purposes, I think it’s been neutered.


  2. Scott says:

    McCain is getting in on the joke. Everyone should hide their dog b/c Barry is hungry.


  3. greginak says:

    More evidence for future historians regarding why America fell apart.Report

  4. greginak says:

    meh…another comment cut off.

    I don’t care how R crated his pooch. I don’t care if O had dog, asked for seconds and had fancy elitist mustard.Report

  5. BlaiseP says:

    This dog meat story shows how the Republican mind works.   You see, they’re not literate people.   They rely on others to do it for them.   So this story’s been right there in Obama’s autobiography for years, someone finds it in Anno Domino 2012 and reads it to the unlettered cretins which comprise the core of the Republican Faithful.   A few coarse (if a bit uncomfortable) laughs and catcalls, since these inbred hillbillies have been eating roadkill since they were old enough to consume solid food.

    Ha ha ha.   Someone ate dog meat.  Betcha Mitt Romney never ate a possum or a coon.   I went around Louisiana taking photographs and came upon a little roadside stand selling Fresh Coon.   Showed these pictures to an elderly woman of colour in Baton Rouge who stroked her chin and told me “When you buys you a coon, make sure you get a look at the feets.  ‘Cause there’s people out there who will try an’ sell you a cat.”Report

  6. Dan Miller says:

    This and the Seamus story are both pretty irrelevant to the actual campaign, but I have to admit that I’m a little boggled.  How did the rightosphere miss this one in 2008? Given the absurd level of scrutiny that a presidential candidate gets, I’m amazed there’s anything potentially damaging that hadn’t been dredged up already.Report

    • Dan, the 2008 election wasn’t so dog eat dog.

      On the right, the preference of McCain over Obama was fairly mild.  Nobody loved McCain, and electing our first black president was a great consolation.  Neither was reading Obama’s autobio[s] worth the agony, and there was still the belief that the press would do its job vetting BHO.  But thinking back, I don’t think any trivia was going to turn back the First Black President juggernaut.

      I mean, also hiding in plain sight was the “Black Value System” at Obama’s church,


      which is worth more of a look than the zero it got, where “blackness” is a theology, not just a skin color.   [IOW, not just a piece of trivia.]

      You probably missed the discussion of the BVS in the other thread; my point would be that if Romney’s opponents try to play the Mormon thing, the counterattack would rightly be not on Rev. Wright ala Hannity, but on the church’s published tenets themselves.  In the least, a disavowal of the theology of James Hal Cone.Report

      • greginak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Yeah its a shame the press didn’t investigate those scary black folk more. Those blacks are mysterious. Now when every other ethnic group and most religions spend decades keeping people in their communities and focusing building up their communities from the inside that is the American way. Why i can’t but help to salute the flag just thinking about. Lord knows all my immigrant ancestors, eastern euro jews and greeks, did that. And why the hell would black be all sensitive about their place in the US.

        I’m not expecting an answer from you Tom. Warmed over Fox news fear of a black planet is not what makes this blog rock.Report

        • Scott in reply to greginak says:


          Do you ever get tired of playing the race card?Report

          • greginak in reply to Scott says:

            “playing the race card” implies that anything i said was all about winning a debate by mentioning race. I was responding to Tom who was talking exactly about race. I don’t talk about race to win debates. I talk about race, if i do so, because its an important topic.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        OK, this is classic TVD.  He points to a church’s Black  Values System statement and implies that it’s something radical and dangerous.  But he doesn’t actually point to anything in the list that’s radical or dangerous.  TVD doesn’t like to “get down in the weeds,” as he says, but here’s the problem with that–the devil is in the details, and without getting into details, TVD isn’t actually saying anything meaningful at all.

        I encourage everyone to look at the list, and see what in their is radical. Yes, some of it is a bit odd from a white middle class perspective (like the “Disavowal of the Pursuit of ‘Middleclassness'”), but that just shows a bit of paranoia that is overblown, but somewhat understandable if you can put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s group’s history is one of oppression.

        But TVD won’t get down in the weeds with you, because he knows he’ll lose that game. He’d rather just point and shout, and pretend that by doing that he’s actually rising above mere partisan politics instead of recognizing that he’s actually playing the most shallow, pathetic, anti-intellectual, and cowardly political game of all.Report

  7. Christopher says:

    I’d eat dog, once just to try it.

    What’s the big deal?

    I’ve had whale. It’s not that good, and I don’t think there’s some whale mama crying somewhere ’cause her little cherub is agone away down some morlock’s gullet.

    Anthropomorphic Animals: totally sweet band name.Report

  8. Kazzy says:


    • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

      “Welcome to the first Presidential Debate of 2012. On my left, Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, and on my right, President Barak Obama, the Democrat. Gentlemen, let’s get straight to it. First question: Who hates dogs more, Republicans or Democrats, and how does that relate to their preferred tax policies? To you first, Mr. President.”


  9. Jaybird says:

    See? Food taboos.Report

  10. Rufus F. says:

    Here’s a scoop for you: Mrs. Jenkins down the street, you know the one- she thinks she’s all that just because her husband is a manager down at the bank- well, she bought this new dress down at that new shopping mall- it was bright red, just like what a tart would wear. Well, anyway, it was also two sizes too small and she looked just like a sausage about to pop! I didn’t see it of course. Helen told me about it. And you didn’t hear it from me! I don’t want to get a reputation as a gossip. But some people! Report

  11. Kazzy says:

    I’m not sure which of these stories I care less about.  My sister (who values animal life over human life at times) has been trotting out the Romney story since 2008, which barely garnered more than a shrug from me.  It’s a dog.  An animal.  The only reason Romney’s actions in that story would register with me was if they fit a larger pattern of sadism beyond what was expected of a politician.  As far as I know, it doesn’t.  I’ve defended Michael Vick (who is guilty of far more and far worse things than either Romeny or Obama) here and elsewhere, on a variety of fronts, and would defend Romney just as vigorously if I thought there was much merit to whatever is made of this.

    This is the first I’ve heard about the Obama story, which likely means A) not many people read that book of his, B) reading it in context and outside of the election spin machine caused it to register very little, or C) both.  It, too, means little.  I’ve eaten some  “taboo” things in my life.  Outside of canabalism, I think most food taboos are arbitrary and the result of moral and cultural relativism.  I don’t think it says anything about the character of a man to learn that he ate dog, especially while in a country where that is apparently common.  And it certainly says nothing about his ability to lead.

    My hunch is that most folks who aren’t blindly partisan, when presented with these stories without the names of politicians attached, might go so far as to say, “That’s kind of fished up,” and no further.  I doubt they’d really change their opinion of someone or alter their relationship.  Which is why playing into these memes is stupid.  Stupid people are going to run with them as stupid people tend to do.  Why pay any mind to the stupid people?  I realize that sometimes the stupid people are one in the same with the highly influential people, at which point their is reasonable room for discussion about how that influence is being wielded and how we can better shape the course of political discourse.  But is that really happening yet? A Wikipedia entry?  A couple cartoons that most people probably won’t even get since they likely didn’t read the book?

    All this to say… seriously, what’s the point of this post?  What does it add?  Besides a few cheap potshots at Obama (Would it have killed the author to get the name of the book right?)…Report

    • Murali in reply to Kazzy says:

      Outside of canabalism, I think most food taboos are arbitrary and the result of moral and cultural relativism.

      I don’t think so. Everything else being equal, we are morally better if we avoid causing unnecessary harm. Eating meat, for by far, most people causes unnecessary harm. I don’t know how to drw lines between what is obligatory and what is supererogatory, but it seems fairly straightforward that being vegetarian is ceteris paribus morally better.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Murali says:


        I’d be lying if I said I knew anything about the moral calculus of an omnivore lifestyle versus an herbivore lifestyle.  If there is sufficient evidence in favor of the latter, I can understand drawing a real line there.  I was speaking more about things like Kosher/Halal, which animals are pets and which are livestock, and the ethical qualms I have with my wife putting mayo on an Italian hoagie.

        Personally, I don’t put much stock into the suffering of animals.  I think a lot of the arguments around “animal rights” are based on projecting onto animals that which simply isn’t there.  Even more egregious cases, like Michael Vick and his dogs, don’t raise a particularly high level of outrage to me.  His relationships with those animals were such that he saw them as investments and money making commodities, not as pets or living beings or moral agents.  Perhaps that was a warped perception he held, but (on a global scale) it is far from an extreme or isolated one.

        I’m not articulating my point particularly well.  It just bothers me when people speak about treating animals “humanely”… ignoring that at the root of that word is “human”, something animals are definitively not.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

          “I’d be lying if I said I knew anything about the moral calculus of an omnivore lifestyle versus an herbivore lifestyle.”

          What I mean by this is that I’m sure it is not as simple as omnivore means dead animals and herbivore does not.  Agriculture takes up land and water, which surely has an impact on animals.  Chemicals go in and out of the soil.  All of this matters.  I just don’t know how it all adds up.Report

          • Matty in reply to Kazzy says:

            There is a lot of research on how human activities affect animals (and plants) both in academic studies and impact assessments for proposed new construction. However this mainly looks at a population level and whether a species would persist in an area rather than individual animal welfare.

            For a flavour of what I’m talking about see here, there is a fairly good discussion of the role of pesticides in population declines for a predatory mammal.



      • James Hanley in reply to Murali says:

        Lions are less moral than cows. Who knew?  Maybe we can re-educate the evil bastards.Report

  12. Jason Kuznicki says:

    Could someone please just induce a coma in me and then wake me up when silly season is over?Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      Oh Jason.  It’s always Silly Season in Jesusland.   They’ve been running on cheap whiskey, Budweiser beer, Lay’s potato chips and ginned-up outrage since the Civil War.  Probably long before, but the historical record is a bit spotty going that far back.

      I think Mitt Romney would be well-served to eat a possum to better establish his bona fides with his Core Constituency.Report

  13. Roger says:

    So the rumors are true…

    Obama and Vick in 2012? One kills ’em the other eats ’em?Report