For months, the growing probability that Mitt Romney, least acceptably conservative of the Republican Presidential contenders, would face Obama in November made rightbloggers moody and irritable.
They’ve been coming around, but slowly. When Newt Gingrich’s supporters attacked Romney’s years as a corporate raider, and Hilary Rosen sassed his wife Ann, some rightbloggers reflexively rallied to Romney’s defense. Still, a more positive motivation for Mittism was lacking.
That came last week, via an old story about Obama eating dog meat as a boy.
Jim Treacher of the DC Trawler called out a passage from Obama’s Dreams from my Father, showing that as a child in Indonesia the future President had eaten, among other exotic dishes, dog meat. Thus, jested Treacher, if you wanted to compare “how presidential candidates treated dogs decades ago,” the adult Mitt Romney’s famous story about strapping his dog Seamus to the roof of the car for a family trip didn’t look so bad.
In preemptive response to what some people might think about this comparison, Treacher explained, “Hey, whatever you have to tell yourself, libs. Say what you want about Romney, but at least he only put a dog on the roof of his car, not the roof of his mouth. And whenever you bring up the one, we’re going to bring up the other. It’s no fun when we push back, is it? That’s why it’s so much fun.”
Some of the brethren took the topic completely seriously, which was about as funny as it got. For example, Warner Todd Huston: “If these liars on the left really cared about dogs like they claim they do,” said Huston, “they’d be even more upset at Obama than they would at Romney. But they aren’t. This whole episode proves that they don’t give a damn about dogs. They only care about finding a political attack against Romney. The welfare of dogs is of no interest to them. Democrats and all their little minions are partisan liars through and through.” (Presumably liberals care instead about cats, because, like liberals, cats are treacherous and react with obvious disdain when Warner Todd Huston barks at them.)
And at Pajamas Media, David P. Goldman went for historical perspective: Obama’s mother “was not only a Communist fellow-traveler,” he wrote, “but the sort of 1960s woman who (as we used to say) ‘put her body on the line,’ first by marrying two Third World men, and then by spending her career in the Third World.” Thus, while “people in some Third World countries eat dog meat because they are poor,” Obama ate it only because his race-mixing commie mommy wanted him to hate America. “It really isn’t unfair at all to bring Obama’s canine consumption to public attention,” Goldman said. “The president isn’t really one of us. He’s a dog-eater.” Plus, you heard about his mother, right? Two Third World men!
But for most rightbloggers, Obama-eats-dogs became for official purposes a joke, in which they took an almost hysterical delight.
“Had a few people try and tell me the Romney thing was horrible but Obama dog-eating is nothing,” said Never Yet Melted. “My response: nomnomnom.” “Doh! Has PETA heard about this?” quipped Nice Deb. “Dogs Are For Petting,” said Ace of Spades. “Not for appetizers.”
“I’m surprised, actually,” said Hot Air’s Allahpundit, “that there hasn’t been more fake outrage ginned up by liberals to try to spoil the fun righties have been having with this meme.” What would have been the point? The brethren were unstoppable, and some even fleshed out their gags with dialogue. For example:
Manhattan Infidel pretended to interview White House dog Bo: “Adorable?,” Bo said. “Adorable? I was running for my life. This was the first time I met him and he says to me, ‘Bo, you look delicious. I’m going to make you a Chicago style dog.’ What the hell is that man? What the hell is that?”
I Own The World had the same idea, but took it further: His Bo revealed that Obama wasn’t allowed in his wife’s bedroom. “It started because Barack would blame ‘certain smells’ on me all the time,” said Bo. “So I was banished. Without me around his cover was blown. Two nights later he was thrown out. Funny thing though. The room still stinks. It smells like a cab driver wiped his ass on his turban.” (The author’s nom de plume is BigFurHat, which we suspect is an alias for David P. Goldman.)
This item was linked by rightblogger kingpin Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, who dished out no fewer than two dozen posts of his own either directly about the subject or devolving to it. Some examples: “‘Dinner with Barack’ now includes George Clooney. As long as it doesn’t include Benjy or Beethoven.” “Reader Mary Kline emails to suggest a new SNL sketch about the ‘Basset-o-Matic.’ Punchline: ‘Mmmm, that’s terrific Basset!’ I’m getting hungry already.” “21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: No, I will not sleep with your dog. Hey, so long as you don’t cook and eat it.” “The scary part is at the end, when Bo discovers that To Serve Dogs is a . . . cookbook!… Heh. This just keeps getting funnier.”
Reynolds persisted with these well into the weekend (“Say, remember back when Obama was complaining that ‘They talk about me like a dog?’ Maybe he just didn’t want to be dinner“).
“Obama ate a dog. Obama said people talk to him like he’s a dog. Well, you are what you eat. Maybe I’m overreacting, but I’m pretty afraid of what will happen when Obama meets with my representative Raul Labrador. You can disagree with Romney’s transportation method, but his dog always arrived at the destination alive and uneaten. Quiet! You’re all making baby Obama cry!” Well, they can’t all be Evelyn Waugh.
Rightwing broadcasters jumped on the story, too: “‘When the president is riding in the car with Bo, does he go “oh, he tastes like a good boy?”‘ [Eric] Bolling ribbed, cracking up the panelists” on Fox News’ The Five, reported Mediaite under the headline, “The Five Chews On Obama’s Dog Meat Scandal.”
Another Fox commentator, Sarah Palin, tied the recent Secret Service scandal to the subject: “I hope [the Secret Serviceman’s] wife … sends him to the doghouse — as long as he’s not eating the dog, along with his former boss.”
Treacher, clearly invigorated by the generous response to his career-making story, followed up with a series of popular tweets e.g., “@mitchellreports Romney was too busy hiding his dog on top of the car so Obama wouldn’t eat it.”
In between japes, rightbloggers wiped their eyes and remarked on how hilarious and politically effective they’d been.
“It’s amazing how the aptly named ‘Army of Davids’ is able to use the Internet and social media to run with a theme and dominate the popular imagination,” The Virginian glowed in a post called “This election is about eating dogs.” “We may be seeing the end of an era dominated by ability of Leftist comedians like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher or the cast of SNL to create a false image of a political figure.” Goodbye Stephen Colbert, hello shit-covered turban!
If you’re thinking right about now that this joke just doesn’t bear so many retellings, you’re missing the point. Obama-eats-dogs is not a joke in the traditional sense of something that makes normal people laugh. It’s a political idea shaped like a joke, over which rightbloggers may ostentatiously display mirth, thus signaling to one another (and to whatever passers-by may be taken in by it) their high spirits and confidence of victory.
This was revealed by the reliably humor-averse Michelle Malkin: “Say goodbye to all the Democrat talking points about Mitt Romney’s cruelty to animals,” she announced as she commanded her troops to “Clik here for full Twitchy coverage, laugh, and say goodbye to all the Democrat talking points about Mitt Romney’s cruelty to animals.”
Even more clearly, streiff at RedState explained the thing to readers in “The Meme War We Must Win: if you think Ann Romney and Seamus the Dog aren’t important you don’t belong in electoral politics.”
“Many, especially our own ‘smart set’, have criticized the attention these events have attracted as somehow taking away from the high minded policy discussion that is supposedly taking place,” said streiff. “Nothing could be farther from the truth.”
Liberals had been making jokes about the nominee-presumptive, he explained, “portraying Romney as a plutocrat, some sort of latter day (nyuk nyuk) J. P. Morgan,” just like they made fun of Gerald Ford as a klutz and George H.W. Bush as a clueless rich guy. And look what happened to them! “Contrary to what a lot of folks on our side are saying,” he continued, “these attacks are far more important to defend against than obsessing over Romney’s position on Afghanistan or the capital gains tax because this election is not going to be fought over issues and ideas.”
This is an interesting window into the way such people think about political humor, and perhaps humor in general: A joke isn’t something that strikes you as funny — it’s something that strikes you, period, and you better strike back twice as hard. Get ready, as election season begins in earnest, for the mighty F-35 roar of their laughtrack.