Last week there was much ado about the fact that Barack Obama seems to have bragged, in Dreams from My Father, about having been "introduced to dog..." The main point of this was to blunt the rather ridiculus story about Mitt Romney strapping his dog, Seamus (while in his carrier) to the top of the Romney's station wagon on some vacation over 30 years ago. "Romney strapped his dog to his roof!" "Yeah? Well, Obama ate a freaking dog." See how that worked?
The thing is, we on the conservative side saw neither as anything more than distractions. Democrats pushing the Seamus story were trying to distract from the fact that Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable failure, and Republicans were simply responding in a "tit for tat" "two can play at that game" sort of way. Then something unexpected happened- the Democrats absolutely burst into flames. They were frothing at the metaphorical mouth. They acted like someone had kicked (eaten?) their dog. It was incredibly strange.
So I've given it some thought and I understand, now, why this is important. Why it's important to them and why it should be important to us. I understand, I think, what caused them so to panic. There, as best I can figure out, three reasons.
The first is simple, and even trivial. Democrats are not used to losing a battle over "The Narrative," and so do not react well to so losing. The very fact that Seamus fell to the wayside as jokes about Obama eating dog ("Don't taste me, bro!") were flying furiously was so unreal to them, that they had to lash out. We hate what we fear.
The second reason is slighly more complex, but stems from the first. They were expecting this campaign to be a repeat, in many respects, of 2008. Romney scared Conservatives as being too squishy and ready to "reach across the aisle." Why should this have been any different than John McCain? I was certainly one of those Conservatives concerned that we hadn't learned the lessons of 2008. Both Democrats and those like me were surprised to find out we were wrong. The Romney camp is more than happy to let the claws out, metaphorically speaking, against the Democrats. On the Conservative side this is a reason for joy; on the Democrat side it is a cause to readjust their thinking and strategy- unfortunately there aren't many strategies available to you when the incumbent you're supporting has added more debt than all 43 previous presidents combined, is overseeing chronically high (8%+) Unemployment, has seen the price of gas more than double, and overseen some of the bigest foreign policy disasters in US History.
Which brings us to the third reason. The 2008 campaign was based on roughly two things- Barack Obama as "The One" to rehabilitate America's image abroad, and the war weariness of America laid solidy on John McCain's shoulders. The fact that John McCain ran a terrible campaign certainly didn't help, either. In that campaign, the nation was sold a bill of goods like this: Barack Obama is a world traveller. He grew up outside the US and in a bi-racial family. He's suave and cosmopolitan. And never once did anyone stop to ask, "But is he American?"
I do not, here, mean anything about his place of birth or validity for the office of the President of the United States. I don't mean American in birth or by technical definition. I mean: is he American in his Soul? That question was never asked in 2008, never contemplated. People who tried to bring it up were ignored, if possible, ridiculed if not, and piloried if ridicule did not work. Any question of, "Does he understand us?" was called Racist and ignorant.
Now, however, we have more than three years of evidence suggesting that those who asked those questions in 2008 had a good point. From bowing to Foreign Leaders (Americans bow to no one, and we follow the "sit/stand" customs of England only to humor them), to attempting to equate warm feelings for one's country with believing it is "exceptional" (America is objectively "exceptional" in almost every respect- regardless of what the British or Greeks believe about their own countries), to his domestic tax and spend policies, to the way he runs the government. It is becoming clear that he does not believe, not down in his soul where it matters, in the things that make America great. And if he does not believe in them, how can he lead those who do? How can he help us continue to be that "Shining City on a Hill?"
Added: My apologies for not getting this up in time. Apparently my computer doesn't always like blogger, and will schedule the post without actually, you know, posting.