The Jaws that Bite, the Claws that Catch

Mitt Romney — or, rather, Romney’s handlers — showed his teeth last week. Not a pretty sight, orthodontists notwithstanding.

The invisible hand always leaves a footprint, though, and we can begin to limn the nature of the campaign’s movements and strategies, as they shake the Etch-A-Sketch and move into full-on campaign mode.

In APRIL!!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

But there is a method to that madness, as well.

What have we seen of Mitt’s weaknesses in the past couple of weeks? And what has been done to alter perceptions?

Well, Mitt has been sucked into the GOP’s war on women. So, the narrative was, first, THERE IS NO WAR ON WOMEN. Then: Oh My Ghod! They’ve attacked MOTHERS! (Never question motherhood in a nation whose natal chart is ruled by Cancer, the astrologer would tell you.)


OK. Mission Semi-Accomplished. The stark division has been muddied, and the “War on Conservative Women” meme can launch, absorbing and deflecting women’s legitimate anger into being mad at that LESBIAN who said them awful things about Ann Romney not working and Bill Maher says horrible misogynistic stuff and he gave Obama a MILLION DOLLARS and Obama HAS TO GIVE IT BACK!!!!

And, today’s Weakness du Jour: Mitt Romney is mean to dogs.

Mitt Romney belongs to a religious cult that does not allow dogs to gamble.

Again, don’t criticize dogs in the Good ‘Ol USA. (I’m only being semi-Sirius about this.)

It’s all right. This campaign is not going to be run on rationality. It is going to be run on pure reptile brain. Obama SCARY! Mitt NOT a cultist!

And so forth.

But look at what the Rovian Brains behind Mitt’s fangs have ginned up as a response to the famous “Seamus the Irish Setter” scandal, and, significantly, we see the Usual Suspects working hand-in-glove here:

Bam Bites Dog
The political perils of personal attacks.
The Wall Street Journal

… In January Obama adviser David Axelrod–not to be confused with Axelrod, the Flying A Dog–blew a dog whistle. He tweeted a photo of the president with Bo, the White House canine, in what appears to be the back seat of a limousine. Axelrod’s comment: “How loving owners transport their dogs.”

In a more serious vein, Lincoln Mitchell of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute writes at the Puffington Host: “For many voters, treating a dog this way is unimaginable and could only be done by somebody who has a problem empathizing with others.”

But then Jim Treacher, the Daily Caller’s resident wag, picked up his dog-eared copy of “Dreams From My Father,” Obama’s 1995 autobiography, and sniffed out this passage from the second chapter. If Axelrod’s tweet was a dog whistle, Treacher’s post is a dinner bell:

With Lolo [Obama’s stepfather], I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy). Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the remnants of more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share.

It reminds us of the conclusion of the sci-fi tale “A Boy and His Dog”: “It’s a cookbook.”

Which is, in addition to the snark and the sleaze, literarily incorrect. Passing over the lack of ethics in giving away the ending to a classic short story, it ought be noted that Harlan Ellison wrote “A Boy and His Dog,” and its tagline was NOT “it’s a cookbook.” That was Damon Knight’s “To Serve Man,” which you might remember from the Twilight Zone episode made from it.

Harlan Ellison, not-author-of “To Serve Man”

And it clearly doesn’t remind “us,” since the amateurish error is entirely Taranto’s, as any superficial fact check would have quickly proven. (Ellison’s novella, “A Boy and his Dog,” ends with a witty pun on good taste, which is probably why it escaped Taranto’s memory, since, demonstrably, that is a subject in which he is unversed.)

Never let it be said that James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal was well read. No: Rupert don’t want no writers what read good, Rupert wants writers who write bad. (Or, actually, write bad good.)

Taranto sets up the false dichotomy. Then, quoting someone else, supplies the reptile-brain “counter-argument.”

The Daily Caller, funded by Foster Friess — who’s such a control freak that when the SuperPac he funded wouldn’t spent more money in Wisconsin a few weeks ago, PERSONALLY made Santorum radio ad buys — continues its role as a political assassin. Here’s the reptile brain argument:

Mitt may not be good to dogs, but AT LEAST HE HASN’T EATEN THEM!


And, I guess, he’s Hitler, but that’s a slur for another day.

But consider the clear strategy emerging: whatever your weaknesses, turn them against your enemy. (I don’t say “opponent” because the President is not seen as an opponent, as, say, John McCain still understood. No: Obama is the ENEMY.)

Being sold online

Women hate Mitt?

Obama is evil to women! He takes money from WOMAN-HATERS who use the C-Word! Someone who likes him said that MOTHERHOOD ISN’T HARD WORK!

Mitt has a problem with dog-lovers?

OBAMA EATS DOGS! OMG! (Panties twist and untwist, cue the Evil Barbie Corps on Faux Nooz.)

And just LOOK at the blogswarm of MEETOOs that was launched.

Lather, rinse and repeat.

Ask yourself who that invisible hand is, but don’t doubt its handy footwork.

But this is targeted media manipulation at the sub-rational level. It is utterly amoral and historically effective.

Your mind is not important to them. Only your gut-level reactions are.

If that doesn’t bother you, then fasten your seat belt, sit back and enjoy the ride.

But please don’t call it “democracy.”

It barely reaches the moral heights of demagoguery.



UPDATE: Right wing tool Jake Tapper (of ABC News) helps to push the non-story, as though he were an actual journalist. Tapper has a long history of sleazy, amateurish stories on President Obama, going back at least to his “I smelled tobacco on him” bit of high-school newspaper journalism in 2008. Oh wait. No high school newspaper editor would have run that. I wonder if they’d have run THIS:

Apr 17, 2012 11:02pm
Romney Campaign Notes that Obama as a Boy Ate Dog Meat*

Much has been made about Mitt Romney, in 1983, putting his family dog Seamus in a kennel on top of his roof and driving from Boston to Canada, with said canine Seamus making his displeasure known in a rather scatological way.

Democrats have signaled they have every intention of making sure the American people — especially dog-lovers — know the tale. In January, senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod tweeted a photo of the president and Bo in a car, with the snide observation: “@davidaxelrod: How loving owners transport their dogs.”

The Romney campaign signaled Tuesday night that they are not about to cede any ground when it comes to a candidate’s odd past with man’s best friend.

And the Obama campaign shot back, with a spokesman suggesting the Romney team was attacking a child, since the Obama act in question took place when he was a kid.

The Daily Caller noted that in President Obama’s best-selling memoir, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” the president recalls being fed dog meat as a young boy in Indonesia with his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro.


*This post has been updated.

Headline. Young Obama ate Dog as a child, while Jake Tapper eats something far worse as an adult …

And, I have been (snarkily) informed that Taranto’s little literary trope is a “joke.” Which is funny since, in order for something to be a joke, it has to a) be funny and b) be funny.  If you have to explain that it’s a “joke” and not another clueless assertion in an article filled with clueless assertions and snark, then it’s not a “joke.”


A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted  from his blog

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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