|Photograph of since departed Seamus|
The white Chevy station wagon with the wood paneling was overstuffed with suitcases, supplies, and sons when Mitt Romney climbed behind the wheel to begin the annual 12-hour family trek from Boston to Ontario … Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family’s hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon’s roof rack. He’d built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.
As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ”Dad!” he yelled. ”Gross!” A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours. As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.A couple days ago, Swidey published an update to that 2007 article in light of Romney's opponent's making an issue of the dog story:
To me, Romney’s critics have focused on the wrong part of the anecdote. It’s not that Romney put his dog on the roof. Remember how different standards were in 1983. Back then, I was a kid sloshing around in the cargo section of my family’s station wagon, competing with my equally unbuckled younger sister to see how many passing truck drivers we could get to pull their horns. I’ll take the Romneys at their word that Seamus loved his alfresco rides. Hell, my dog loves doing all kinds of things I don’t, chief among them luxuriating in the stink of other dogs’ duffs. What is beyond debate, though, is that this far into this particular trip, Seamus had ceased enjoying his ride. Faced with such irrefutable evidence, most people, I suspect, would have relented and let the ailing dog cram into the back of the wagon, even if logic dictated that cleaning up a repeat episode of his gastric distress would be a whole lot messier than if he were returned to the roof.I totally agree with that assessment. The problem is Romney saw an animal in distress and instead of putting the dog in the station wagon with the family, he chose to put the dog back in exactly the situation that caused that distress. It says a lot about Romney's cold, heartless, unsympathetic character...not good traits for someone running for President in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.