I refuse to take seriously man-eats-dog, Ted Nugent, and the Henry Ford Museum (as a political issue). And more to the point, I refuse to take seriously the media folk who think real voters are going to decide the presidency on such matters.
On one level it is amusing that the dog-on-the-car crew now has to defend the dog-on-the-menu story (or, more accurately, ignore it). But since I didn’t care about the dog on the car (as a political matter), I sure am not going to pretend to care that President Obama ate dog as a kid in Indonesia. (For the record, since my own canine is in listening range, ”Yuck!”)
Ted Nugent is being talked to by the Secret Service for making what sounded like some to be a threat against the president. Swell. That is what they are paid to do. The Romney camp said “divisive language” is a bad thing and we should all be civil (in case there was any doubt as to Romney’s views). The White House couldn’t bear to pounce on the story. So again, I can’t pretend to care about another celebrity saying something stupid.
Next up on the non-stories is the Ford Museum, or more specifically, the legacy of Henry Ford. In the last election go-around, I criticized Mitt Romney for going to the Henry Ford Museum. Now Obama has gone and the critics of Romney’s visit (including the National Jewish Democratic Council) are mute. Hypocrisy in politics?! Oh my stars, next thing you know there will be money as well. For the record, I believe Henry Ford was an anti-Semite and would prefer politicians not venerate him. But compared to how Obama has treated the Jewish state this doesn’t get up blood pressure up. And yes, the NJDC is the “the Democrats’ Jewish attack dog,” but they haven’t criticized far more egregious actions by this president so should I care about this one?
Let’s try to craft some rules for determining when to get irate and when not to. None of these issues, save Obama actually going to the museum, involve the candidate himself or a policy matter. Both of those categories (the candidate’s own words and real issues) are fully in bounds for political analysis and “gaffe swarming,” although trying to call for restraint or a sense of proportion is hopeless in the Twitter age.
One the other hand, no one thinks rock and movie star donors and supporters actually speak for their politicians. (Many of us would prefer they not speak about politics at all, but that’s for another day.) When the issue is preposterous (e.g. dogs on cars and on the plate) we don’t have to pretend it is revealing of anything. When a non-candidate repeats and repeats their inanity over and over again before apologizing under duress (e.g. Hilary Rosen) it’s fair to conclude she meant what she said. But when someone phrases something inartfully and then tries to clarify maybe we could give them on free pass?
And finally, let’s invoke the “reasonable voter” (or “actual voter”) standard for evaluating kerfuffles. Is any reasonable voter going to vote against Obama for going to the Ford museum? Is any actual voter going to vote against Romney for his advisor’s Etch-a-Sketch remark? I didn’t think so. And the horde that pounces on all of this? Sigh. No one said the “new media” were an unalloyed blessing.