Kathleen Parker / Politics

Pardon My Zeitgeist

NEW YORK -- I think it is fair to say that the shark has been permanently displaced by the dog.

When scriptwriters have run out of mustard, the show hasn't "jumped the shark," as we've been saying since the Fonz literally jumped a shark while water-skiing. These days, the political show has eaten the dog.

Yes, it has come to this.

It's the most pivotal presidential race in human history (staying true to our apocalyptic tendencies), and we're debating which candidate cares most about dogs. I did my best in a previous column to illustrate the silliness of the Obama campaign's focus on a 30-year-old Romney/dog travel episode, but, alas, I misjudged our capacity for the absurd.

As I was hitting "send," the Romney campaign was touting an anecdote from Barack Obama's memoir in which he mentions having once consumed dog meat. (Confession: I only scanned the memoir and failed to seek out "dog eating" in the index.)

Rarely do I return so soon to a topic, but the zeitgeist is a persistent nag, and the volume of my mail suggests that this story has become more than a political metaphor. Not to overstate, but it has become a measure of our national sanity. Things are not looking good, my friends.

Republicans were so gleeful to have found a worse dog story about Obama that they have lashed out with Kujoesque rabidity. Sure, Romney may have carted his dog Seamus in a crate strapped to the roof of his car, but Obama ATE DOG!

"So there, Ms. Parker. Why didn't you mention THAT in your little column, you (female canine)!"

Even a close friend, who usually can be relied upon to tackle complex issues with calm, intellectual reserve, emailed: "I guess it's better to eat your dog!"

Are we really arguing about whether eating a dog is worse than putting one in a kennel?

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