As everyone knows by now, the First Family has a new puppy named Sunny. According to the White House announcement, the Obamas named the Portuguese Water Dog based on her “cheerful personality.” We’ll have to see whether the name still applies after a couple of years of living in Washington D.C., where it seems even dogs are subject to political attacks.
First there was PETA’s attention-grabbing condemnation of the President for getting a dog from a breeder rather than a shelter. Not mincing words, the head of PETA equated it to “kicking a hobo.” She dismissed the fact that the Obamas made a donation to the Washington Humane Society in Sunny’s honor, arguing that the money doesn’t erase the bad example being set.
Next came the vetting process. New York Magazine delved into Sunny’s background, learning that she’s likely the same dog once known as Pink. It took some serious digging to uncover the dog’s origins based on the few details that were provided by the White House. The article asks why the White House didn’t release more information, including the breeder’s name. In a sane world, we might wonder why this stuff is important enough to warrant a Watergate-style investigation.
Of course, over-analysis is par for the course in Washington, especially where the President is involved. The Washington Post joined others in suggesting there was a political motive for the Obamas getting another dog. To their credit, they concluded that getting a dog probably wouldn’t make anyone forget about the NSA scandal or the sluggish economy. In fact, the expert they interviewed said that Presidential dogs are generally absent from the public eye during hard times, possibly because the President doesn’t want to seem out of touch by putting his pampered pooch on display.
From the darker corners of the internet, there was even some race-baiting in reaction to the Obama’s selection of a second black dog. The conservative website The Daily Caller concluded its article on Sunny with the strange observation that “the Obamas do not have any white dogs.” Now that’s what you call dog whistle politics. But for the record, it should be noted that Bo Obama has prominent white markings on his… eh, what’s the point?
Speaking of Bo, Sunny may want to lean on her big brother for advice on coping with Washington scandal-mongering. The elder Obama canine was the subject of “controversy” when it was alleged that the Obamas had him transported on his own plane at taxpayer expense. Snopes.com has thoroughly debunked this claim, which won’t stop your Uncle Jim from sending it to you in an email previously forwarded by approximately a bazillion other people.
Lest you think this is a new phenomenon, the Snopes article notes that “Bo-gate” was similar to a rumor that was once spread about FDR’s Scottish Terrier Fala. Just goes to show that politics has always been a dog-eat-dog business.