Seamus and 'shame us'

Shorter Rick Santorum: How 'bout that dog?

WASHINGTON -- If the way Mitt Romney treated his dog 30 years ago is not an important part of the 2012 presidential election, Rick Santorum's campaign didn't get the memo.

Twice last week top Santorum adviser John Brabender reminded voters that Romney once drove to Canada with the family dog, Seamus, in a crate fastened to the roof of the car. And on Sunday, in response to a question from Jonathan Karl on ABC's "This Week," Santorum said the Seamus story is important.

"As far as Seamus the dog, look, all I would say is, the issues of character are important in this election, and we need to look at all of those issues and make a determination as to whether that's the kind of person you want to be president of the United States," Santorum said.

OK, OK, I get it. There's a long history in American politics of using incidents like this as a kind of shorthand for something that's hard to say otherwise (Ask "Gary Hartpence.") It might be hard for an "objective journalist" or for a candidate like Rick Santorum to come out and say that Mitt Romney is clueless and out-of-touch, but the Seamus the Dog anecdote gets the job done. (Just ask Gail Collins of the New York Times, who's bucking for a Pulitzer Prize for dog-on-roof journalism).

Meanwhile, while it's nice that a candidate like Santorum is suddenly so concerned about animal welfare, I haven't heard any of the GOP White House wannabes weigh in about this case involving human welfare.

Forget Seamus. This shocking incident should shame us:

Trayvon had left the house he and his father were visiting to walk to the local 7-Eleven. On his way back, he caught the attention of George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain, who was in a sport-utility vehicle. Zimmerman called the police because the boy looked “real suspicious,” according to a 911 call released late Friday. The operator told Zimmerman that officers were being dispatched and not to pursue the boy.

Zimmerman apparently pursued him anyway, at some point getting out of his car and confronting the boy. Trayvon had a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman had a 9 millimeter handgun.

The two allegedly engaged in a physical altercation. There was yelling, and then a gunshot.

When police arrived, Trayvon was face down in the grass with a fatal bullet wound to the chest. Zimmerman was standing with blood on his face and the back of his head and grass stains on his back, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

Let's be honest; The only thing that was "real suspicious" about Trayvon Martin walking past a gated community to bring home a bag of Skittles for his brother was the color of his skin. And the biggest crime here is why the police still haven't charged Zimmerman, who looks more and more like a cold-blooded killer the more that comes out about this case. Yeah, maybe it tells us something about Mitt Romney that he left his dog on the roof. But it tells us a lot more about America that we left an innocent unamed teenager to die in the street of a gated community.

And our so-called leaders have nothing to say about it.