|Cuisines from My Stepfather
A couple of days ago, Obama-campaign top dog David Axelrod threw in the towel on the dog war. “I thought it was a little absurd to talk about what the president had done as a ten-year-old boy,” he sniffed to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, which is as near as the suddenly sheepish attack dog will ever get to conceding that Barack Obama is the first dog-eating president in the history of the republic. For those coming late to the feud, the Democrats started it, assiduously promoting accounts of a 1983 Romney vacation to Canada in which the family pooch Seamus rode on the roof of the car. Axelrod and the boys thought they could have some sport with this, and their poodles in the media eagerly played along. The New York Times columnist Gail Collins alone has referred to it dozens of times.
And then Jim Treacher, the sharp-eyed wag of the Daily Caller, uncovered this passage from Chapter Two of Obama’s bestselling but apparently largely unread memoir Dreams from My Father, in which the author recalls childhood meals with his stepfather Lolo Soetoro:
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.There followed an Internet storm of “I Ate a Dog (and I Liked It)” gags. Axelrod, an early tweeter of Romney doggie digs, has now figured out that the subject is no longer profitable for his boss. The dogs he let slip aren’t quite that savvy. Jeremy Funk, communications director of “Americans United for Change,” is still bulk-e-mailing links to the dogsagainstromney.com video “Should We Have a President Who Isn’t Even Qualified to Adopt a Pet?” Confronted by the revelation that his preferred candidate only swings by the Humane Society for the all-you-can-eat buffet, he huffs that this is “false equivalence.” “A six-year-old with no choice in the matter” is not the same as a grown man choosing to place his dog on the roof of his vehicle. My Canadian compatriot Kate McMillan, a dog breeder, advised Mr. Funk to “try this experiment–sit a normal, American 6 year old down at a plate and tell him it’s dog meat. Watch what happens.”
For their next exploding cigar, the Democrats chose polygamy. Brian Schweitzer, the Democratic governor of Montana, remarked that Romney was unlikely to appeal to women because his father was “born on a polygamy commune.” Eighty-six percent of women, noted Governor Schweitzer with a keenly forensic demographic eye, are “not great fans of polygamy.” You can understand the 86 percent’s ickiness at the whole freaky-weirdy idea of a president descended from someone who had multiple wives. Eww.
Just for the record, Romney’s father was not a polygamist; Romney’s grandfather was not a polygamist; his great-grandfather was a polygamist. Miles Park Romney died in 1904, so one can see why this would weigh heavy on 86 percent of female voters 108 years later.
Meanwhile, back in the female-friendly party, Obama’s father was a polygamist; his grandfather was a polygamist; and his great-grandfather was a polygamist who had one more wife (five in total) than Romney’s great-grandfather. It seems President Obama is the first male in his line not to be a polygamist. So, given the “gender gap,” maybe those 86 percent of American women are way cooler with polygamy than Governor Schweitzer thinks. Maybe these liberal chicks really dig it.
The exploding cigars are revealing not merely of Democratic hypocrisy but of a key difference in worldview between liberals and conservatives. Jeremy Funk and Governor Schweitzer reflexively believe that their dog-eating polygamy-scion is different from the other guy’s dog-transporting polygamy-scion. This is nothing to do with young Barack being six or ten years old and meekly eating whatever was put in front of him. He was 34 years old when he wrote the passage quoted above and ten years older when he recorded the audio edition. And, as both versions make plain, he thinks it’s kinda cool, and he knows that to the average upscale white liberal it has the electric frisson of the exotic other.
Obama is correct that certain cultures believe a man takes on the powers of whatever he eats. In Liberia, where presidential contests are somewhat more primal than in this effete republic, Samuel Doe was captured by some of his eventual successor’s, ah, campaign staff, who cut off President Doe’s ears and then fed them to him. They then removed His Excellency’s genitals and wound up in a fight over who should get them, believing that the still not quite yet late president’s powers would be transferred to whoever got to chow down on the crown jewels. I’m not suggesting that President Obama has eaten a human penis, because, if he had, he’d almost certainly have boasted about it to the impressionable NPR ninnies who gobbled up his memoirs. But I am suggesting that Mitt Romney might like to consider it for next year’s Inauguration Day.
I jest — just in case the Secret Service are taking a break from their Colombian hookers and are minded to investigate me for a threat against what Joe Biden would call the “big stick.” My point is that self-loathing cultural relativism is so deeply ingrained on the left that any revulsion to dog-eating is trumped by revulsion to criticizing any of the rich, vibrant cultural diversity out there in Indonesia or anywhere else. Most polygamy in the developed world is nothing to do with Mormons: It’s widely practiced by Western Muslims, whose plural marriages are recognized de facto by French and Ontario welfare departments and de jure by Britain’s pensions department. But “edgy” “transgressive” leftie comics on sad, pandering standup shows will reserve their polygamy jokes for Mormons until the last stern-faced elder in Utah keels over at the age of 112. In the United Kingdom, 57 percent of Pakistani Britons are married to their first cousins, with attendant increases in their children’s congenital birth defects. Bur the comics save their inbreeding jokes for stump-toothed West Virginians enjoying a jigger of moonshine and a bunk-up with their sisters. The editor of Washington’s leading gay newspaper was gay-bashed in Amsterdam, “the most tolerant city in Europe,” but by Muslims rather than the pasty rednecks who killed Matthew Shepard, so liberals don’t have a dog in this fight. Likewise, the epidemic of black-on-black murder vs. the once-in-a-blue-moon Trayvon Martin: To the liberal mindset, certain dogs won’t hunt. In one of his many bestsellers, Ayatollah Khomeini produced a hierarchy of “the uncleans”: Dogs are at Number Six, Infidels are at Number Eight, and Number Eleven is “the sweat of an unlawful ejaculation.” In the liberal hierarchy, conservative infidels are at Number One, dogs are somewhere between Eight and Eleven, and the sweat of an unlawful ejaculation isn’t on the list at all.
Axelrod is right. Obama’s appetite for dogs isn’t as critical as his appetite for spending and statism. But it was part of his cool. “Mitt Romney isn’t cool,” declared Brian Montopoli of CBS News this week in a story headlined “Can Mitt Romney Make Boring Sexy”? For economically beleaguered Americans, the more pertinent question is: “Can Barack Obama Make Cool Affordable”? It’s not just that Obama ate the dog, but that he’s screwing the pooch.
— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2012 Mark Steyn