In her Saturday column for the New York Times, Gail Collins, who has made a smug little cottage industry out of her obsession (a few dozen column mentions) with Mitt Romney securing the family dog in a hutch on the roof of his car on a family vacation over 20 years ago, finally, if reluctantly, referenced the fact that Obama ate dog as a boy in Indonesia. Romney's story was much worse, she insisted, in "Obama's Wonderful Town."
Collins, the paper's former editorial page editor, also fawned over revelations in an upcoming biography of Obama by David Maraniss excerpted in Vanity Fair.
Today, the story of the bare-chested crossword-puzzle solver.
Barack Obama barely mentions his New York years in his autobiography, “Dreams From My Father.” I have always wanted to know more, ever since I learned that in 1981, when he was a student at Columbia, we lived within a few blocks of each other. Also, we patronized the same diner, and his first book editor was the editor of one of my books. So, really, we are practically the same person.
The Barack Obama the New York women describe seems more appropriate for a Noël Coward play than The National Enquirer. He accuses one girlfriend of sharing T.S. Eliot’s “irreconcilable ambivalence.” The other depicts him on Sunday mornings “drinking coffee and solving The New York Times crossword puzzle, bare-chested, wearing a blue and white sarong.” For cheap thrills, he does once appear clad in a “T-shirt depicting buxom women.”
Obama was still rather young to have that T-shirt held against him in 2012, but his New York period is fair game for reasonable amounts of scrutiny. The only absolute rule is to discount things a presidential candidate did before age 18. If Mitt Romney names Marco Rubio as his vice presidential nominee, it is not fair to point out that Rubio was also once a Mormon because the conversion and deconversion happened between the ages of 8 and 13.
Also eating dog meat when you are a child in Indonesia is not the same thing as driving to Canada with the family Irish setter strapped to the roof of the car when you are 36.
Jim Treacher, the Daily Caller blogger who brought Obama's dog-eating (from his first autobiography) into the spotlight, previously responded to that sort of argument: "...a note to Andrea Mitchell and everyone else bleating, 'He was 6!' Obama wasn’t 6 when he bragged about it in his book. He wasn’t 6 when he read the audiobook with the amusing anecdote about eating the same sort of animal that his genius campaign manager claims to be so concerned about."