Mitt’s Dog Checks Out Newt’s Panda & Rick’s Chaps


Calbuzz gets results: One day after our Department of Campaign Strategy and Unsolicited Political Advice demanded that the Republican presidential front-runners attend the GOP state convention, party officials suddenly announced that Mitt Romney’s national co-chair was heading to California for the event.

Coincidence? We don’t believe in coincidence.

Now that former Minnesota governor and current Mittens front man Tim Pawlenty is skedded as the Saturday night keynote speaker at next weekend’s convention in Burlingame, only Rick Santorum, this week’s version of a GOP front-runner, remains without high-profile representation at the confab.

While our convention counsel to him remains unchanged, it may be that Santorum, aptly derided this week as “one of the finest minds of the thirteenth century,” simply sees too many dangers lurking if he gets too close to San Francisco. Already leading the league in glitter bombings, the Big Rick no doubt fears touching Bay Area doorknobs, using its public facilities or having one of his children recruited should he venture too near to Sodom.

Either that or he’s waiting for this year’s Mr. S.F. Leather Contest.

Passing the hat: We’re a bit surprised to learn that GOP convention delegates will have to fork over an extra hundred bucks, in addition to registration, travel, lodging and other weekend expenses, to hear Pawlenty weave his rhetorical magic at dinner, when they also have to sit through get to hear from both Rep. Kevin McCarthy, one of the few ranking California Republicans who isn’t from another planet, and from Reince Priebus.

No truth to the rumor that the latter is a virulent form of intestinal infection; usually reliable sources tell us tonight that Reince (rhymes with “pints”) Priebus is actually chairman of the Republican National Committee. You could look it up.

In truth, the $100 dinner ducat actually is a great bargain, given that it’ll cost another extra C-note to hear from Newt Gingrich at lunch a few hours before.

Gauging by the fine story filed by Sacbee prose stylist David Siders this week, the Grinch may not leave California before the convention starts. He seems to have transformed his erstwhile brief fundraising jaunt to the state into a full-blown vacation and, despite the carping of Mr. Crankypants over at Flashreport, appears to be having a swell time of it, from hanging out at Stanford with Condi Rice to feeding elephants and pandas at the San Diego Zoo.

Next up: Newt rollerblades and pumps iron on Venice Beach.

Ruff times for Romney: The biggest existential threat to Mitt Romney’s stumbling campaign is not his recent droop in national polls, current struggles in his “home state” of Michigan, or the consistent abuse heaped on him by the heavyweight conservative commentariat.

It’s growing outrage from the owners of America’s 78.2 million dogs.

As every school child knows, Mittens infamously strapped Seamus, his Irish setter, to the top of his station wagon on a family vacation in 1983, with predictable grody effects not suitable to be reported in a family web site such as ours.

While the shaggy dog tale has been oft-told among political hacks since 2007, there is growing evidence that the story is only now entering the nation’s mainstream consciousness. TV talking heads, from Chris Wallace to Rachel Maddow and David Letterman have spread the word, while demonstrators at the Westminster Dog Show picketed to protest Romney as NYT columnist Gail Collins constantly reminds the paper’s 1.2 million daily readers of his weirdo action by referencing the event in every column she writes that mentions his name.

However, the key nagging question – do we want a guy who strapped his dog  onto the roof rack for a 12-hour road trip to be in charge of the nukes? – now extends well beyond the bounds of elite media, thanks to an Alabama-based social networking professional named Scott Crider.

With 39 percent of America’s households owning at least one dog, millions of people by now have visited Crider’s blog, “Dogs Against Romney,” where, among other things, they can shop from among a wide selection of bumper strips, car magnets and dog bandanas, as well as T-shirts in men’s, women’s, canine and cat sizes.

Worse for Mitt, Crider is also mobilizing a “Super Pack” on Facebook, which had 31,057 “likes” at press time, saying he “feels that this just speaks to this guy’s character,” words which, to our erudite ears, echo long-ago sentiments of Calbuzzer Immanuel Kant:

If man is not to stifle his human feelings, he must practice kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.

Chew on that, Mittens.

Read of the week: Just when you thought the repulsive Grover Norquist couldn’t grow any more arrogant and self-important, the little furry monster announced at CPAC that it doesn’t matter how “severely conservative” Romney is or isn’t because all the Republicans need in the White House anyway is a useful idiot anyway:

All we have to do is replace Obama. …  We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate…

Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.

Good to know.

Whither Tony V: Seems we unfairly bashed LA. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in our Democratic convention wrap-up for not showing up at the event, given that he had other things going on, namely the imminent announcement of his selection as the chair of this summer’s national convention. (Although his peeps insist the one had nothing to do with the other — it “just didn’t work out.”)

That said, we’re not sure that the high-profile post is as good a deal for Tony V as it for the party. It wasn’t exactly a launching pad for the pols that chaired the last half-dozen conventions. Nancy Pelosi (2008) managed to lose the Speakership just two years later, while Bill Richardson (2004), Terry McAuliffe (2000), Tom Dachsle and Dick Gephardt (1996), Ann Richards (1992) and Jim Wright (1988) all found defeat, scandal, obscurity or all three soon after performing their ceremonial duties.

The Dems, on the other hand, can’t lose by having Villaraigosa chair, in a year when the Latino vote will be more important than ever, and when Republican wannabes are locked in a close contest to see who can be the most culturally insensitive immigrant basher in the field.

Which unfortunately doesn’t give our old pal Bettina Inclan much to work with.

We apologize for being way overdue in congratulating Bettina on her good news, being selected director of the RNC’s “Hispanic Outreach Effort.” The bad news, of course, is that she’s been named director of the RNC’s “Hispanic Outreach Effort.”

Usted vaya nina!

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