Why Is Times Columnist Gail Collins So Obsessed With Mitt Romney’s Dog?

Posted by on Dec 20, 2011 at 9:34 am

She has already cited the dog in just shy of three dozen columns. Why would she do that? Collins says such moments can reveal character — in this case, Romney’s rigid emphasis on efficiency.

“When I started writing columns, I thought that my goal would be to get people more interested in politics and to try and do it in a way that did not cause them to want to throw themselves out the nearest window,” Collins told me during an interview at her office in midtown Manhattan. “And Seamus works very well on that front.”

Collins mentioned the dog so often that Dartmouth political science professor Brendan Nyhan started keeping a running tally. “She’s trying to be funny — I get that. I appreciate a good campaign story as much as the next person. but I do think it’s representative of the way that the media focuses on trivia, things that are so inconsequential. Mitt Romney is not running for dogcatcher — he’s running for president of the United States,” Nyhan said.

Nyhan is a Democrat and blogger for the Columbia Journalism Review — and he says he’s not a Romney supporter.

“The deeper problem here is the way that pundits want to put candidates on the couch and psychoanalyze them, so this is being used to illustrate some sort of deeper underlying flaw in Mitt Romney’s personality. But Gail Collins is not a psychologist and I’m not sure how much this really tells us about whether he’d be a good president,” Nyhan says.

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