As revealed by The Daily Caller, Obama wrote in his autobiography "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance":
"With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chill peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy)."
Lolo Soetoro was Obama's stepfather who was married to Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, from 1965-80. Soetoro was Indonesian and brought Dunham and Obama to live with him in Indonesia from 1967-71, when Obama was roughly six to ten years old.
While many Americans may say "Eeewww" to the thought of eating snake and grasshopper, critics of the President are focusing on the dog meat. The Daily Caller has updated their post over a dozen times with jokes such as "Mitt Romney gave his dog diarrhea. Barack Obama’s dog gave him diarrhea."
Supporters of the President are quick to point out that Obama's dog-eating took place when he was a child. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has tried to downplay the incident, joking, "Making a big deal out of it sounds like somebody who’s trying to get out of the doghouse on something."
According to the New York Post, when Romney was asked about the dog meat controversy, he responded, "This campaign is going to ultimately become about jobs not dogs."
What does this all mean in terms of animal rights? Eating a dog is no better or worse than eating a cow, a pig, a chicken or a lion. To believe that dogs, whales or elephants are special and deserving of more rights than cows is speciesist. And to single out the dog meat when the President eats all kinds of animal products is speciesist. Whether dog meat is an acceptable part of Indonesian culture is debatable, but from an animal rights viewpoint, whether a certain type of animal exploitation is culturally or socially acceptable is irrelevant. Animals have a right to be free of human use and exploitation.
How does Obama eating dog meat compare to Romney strapping Seamus to the roof of the car? Both actions are objectionable to animal advocates. While an animal would almost certainly prefer being strapped to a moving vehicle over being eaten, Romney tied his dog to the roof of his car in addition to eating animals. Obama just ate animals.
As Romney correctly pointed out, these incidents are unlikely to sway voters. Supporters of each candidate will find a way to overlook or even excuse certain transgressions while considering a larger picture of issues they find important. For animal advocates, Obama's disappointing animal protection record is of much more concern than a dog meat incident from the President's childhood. Similarly, the fact that Romney hunts and supports rodeos is more important to animal advocates than a single incident that took place nearly thirty years ago.