I'm never going to get the rules of American politics quite right. I have just begun to understand why a live boy in a politician's bed is equal not to a live girl but a dead girl, and now I have to learn all those intricate rules about how to rank the possible ill-treatment of political pets.
For example, Mitt Romney once strapped the dog crate on top of the family car for an eight-hour fun tour, with the dog still in the crate. Is this really no worse, politically speaking, than the Clinton cat, Socks, being given away to a secretary whom the cat loved best anyway?
Perhaps the cautionary tale of Socks the cat will make a difference. "Hillary's insistence that we follow her example in pet ownership, when she really should be on Cat Fancy's Most Wanted List, makes her a tiresome bore," Flanagan writes.
So what are these pet-owning political rules? Do they follow the usual pattern of balance, I wonder, so that a Democratic presidential candidate finding a new home for a pet is as bad as a Republican candidate treating a dog in a way which made the dog's bowels empty themselves all over the station wagon windows?
And what is it that we learn from all these pet stories?
(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)