Feature

The Obamas and the First Dog

The politics of choosing a presidential pet

“Now that Barack Obama has won the presidency,” said Joe Blundo in Ohio's Columbus Dispatch, “all eyes turn to one of his toughest decisions: the selection of a dog.” Obama promised his daughters a puppy if he was elected—”expect the kids to hold him accountable.” Everyone else is opining on what type of dog they should take to the White House. 

Obama laid out one criterion already, said AP medical reporter Lindsey Tanner in Yahoo! News. At his first post-election press conference, he said that daughter Malia is allergic to dogs, so the First Dog has to be “hypoallergenic.” Sadly, “there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog,” and truly allergic kids should avoid the animals. “How about a fish instead?”

No, presidents have dogs, and the pooches are “not immune from presidential politics,” said Michael Schaffer in Slate. Obama dodged one part of “this puppy political battle” when he said they’d like to adopt “a mutt ‘like me’,” but he now faces a whole host of other charged choices—education (training), health insurance, and the type of food, among others.

So he should skip the dog altogether, said Lauren Beckham Falcone in the Boston Herald online. Like buxom interns, “political pooches are nothin’ but trouble.” President Bush’s terrier Barney recently “chomped down on a Reuters reporter”; Clinton’s dog Buddy piddled on the carpet. And "that pitbull with lipstick didn’t do much for McCain.”

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