Politico caused an uproar on the campaign trail this week with a report that the Obama campaign was gearing up for a negative onslaught against Mitt Romney if he's the Republican nominee, targeting what Democratic advisers termed his "innate phoniness" and "weirdness factor."
Some of Romney's defenders discern a disturbing code at work, accusing Democrats of using weird as a code word for "Mormon." Yet, Mormon or not, the former Massachusetts governor sometimes really is, well, weird, as Globe columnist Scot Lehigh pointed out in a 2007 column.
FOR THE LAST few mornings, I've lingered over the breakfast table, reading all about Mitt Romney, from his Michigan boyhood to his boffo business career to his determined days as chief of the 2002 Winter Olympics. And what do I come away thinking?
One: Poor Seamus Romney.
And: Does a vacuum periodically settle in between the ears of the Mighty Mighty Mittster, rather like one of those low-pressure areas that sometimes stalls for days on end over New England?
Seamus was the Romneys' former mutt — ah, actually, make that a distinguished canine gentleman of Irish extraction — who, we learned on Wednesday, found himself ignominiously placed in a carrier atop the family station wagon back in 1983 as the Romneys embarked on a 12-hour drive to a vacation home Mitt's parents had on Lake Huron.
Now, Mitt had apparently rigged up some sort of windshield for the carrier. And the trip was made during the summer, so I suppose it's not exactly the equivalent of the long frosty December ride in an open carriage that supposedly nosed Beethoven toward his final decline.
Still, the treatment of loyal old Seamus struck me as a rum thing indeed, as Bertie Wooster might say.
It seems to have struck Seamus even more viscerally, at least from what one infers from our account of his not-so-excellent adventure. At some point, the unfortunate fellow evidently developed gastrointestinal distress, which made itself manifest in a plume of brown liquid leaching down over the back window.
And who, really, can blame Seamus, riding up there alone and forgotten, eyeing each approaching overpass and anxiously wondering if Mitt had calculated the clearances correctly, while the rest of the Romneys were safely ensconced in the vehicle below, no doubt whiling away the hours with joyous renditions of "This land is your land, this land is my land"?
I'm not a dog owner, so I can't say with certainty what the right answer would have been here, but somehow I suspect that if the question of what to do with Seamus was presented as a Harvard Business School case study, the remedy Mitt arrived at would not be widely seized upon as the most intelligent choice.
Read the whole column here. According to Politico's report, Democratic advisers specifically mentioned the dog story as a potential liability. So expect to hear a lot more about Seamus Romney if Mitt is the Republican nominee.