November 10, 2008
Seen by an Ass, Dimly

Let’s take a stroll down history lane with Irving Kristol’s little boy Billy, okay?

In other words, this was a good Democratic year, but it is still a center-right country. Conservatives and the Republican Party will have a real chance for a comeback — unless the skills of the new president turn what was primarily an anti-Bush vote into the basis for a new liberal governing era.

Those were my thoughts when, a few minutes into his victory speech, just after midnight, Obama told his daughters, “And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the new White House.”

I gulped.

Not out of my deep affection for dogs, fond of them though I am. But because while we’ve all known that Obama is a very skillful politician, he hasn’t until now been a particularly empathetic one. Competence plus warmth is a pretty potent combination. Suddenly visions of the two great modern realigning presidents — Franklin Roosevelt (with his Scottish terrier Fala) and Ronald Reagan (with his Cavalier King Charles spaniel Rex) — flashed before my eyes. Maybe a realignment could be coming.

And let’s not forget the great political realignments sparked by George W. Bush’s Scottish Terrier Barney, Clinton’s Chocolate Lab, Buddy; Poppy Bush’s Springer Spaniel, Millie; Amy Carter’s Grits; Gerald Ford’s Golden Retriever, Liberty; Nixon’s Irish Setter, King Timahoe; Johnson’s Beagle and Little Beagle; Caroline Kennedy’s Welsh terrier, Charlie; Eisenhower’s Weimaraner, Heidi; Truman’s Irish Setter, Mike; and Hoover’s police dog, King Tut.

And, most notably of all, Coolidge’s Terrier Peter Pan, Airedale Paul Pry, white collie Rob Roy, Shetland sheepdog Calamity Jane, his two Chows, Tiny Tim and Blackberry, the brown collie Ruby Rough, the bulldog Boston Beans, King Kole, a police dog, Bessie, a yellow collie, and the family bird dog, Palo Alto.

This menagerie led directly to the political realignment, tectonic in its scope, which occurred when Hoover succeeded Coolidge. The latter, historians agree, was the only president Vermont has ever produced. He was known as “Silent Cal.” Cal (along with Calif) was then a common abbreviation for California, but in this case it was short for the president’s given name, which was “Calvin.”

No other president has borne the name Calvin, although there have been five Jameses, four Williams, four Johns, three Georges, and one Ulysses. The significance of this is unclear.


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at November 10, 2008 11:57 AM
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What - no shoutout for our single Rutherford???

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on November 10, 2008 2:06 PM

I never knew Reagan even had a dog. Certainly not a signature, like Roosevelt's.

And, neither am I too impressed with the claim that Reagan was a "realigning" president. Four years after he left office, the Dems were back in.

Otherwise, another useless column by Kristol. I hold to my view that someone at the NYT who has a say in hiring columnists makes it a point to pick out the weakest and least convincing ones when they select the conservatives. While on the good-guy side, they hire Nobel laureates.

Posted by: on November 10, 2008 2:09 PM

The someone in charge of hiring NYT columnists is unfortunately the son of an old pal of Billy's father. I have heard, however, that Billy's contract will not be renewed; the friendships aren't deep enough to overlook a dimwit whose very first column required one of those official corrections and who thinks a country is center-right when it's just resoundingly elected a president labeled "socialist" by all of Billy's friends.

Posted by: Joyful Alternative on November 10, 2008 11:32 PM

I think Kristol may be correct in suggesting there could be a realignment coming. I saw him on The Daily Show last week - he looked tired and worn out. I actually think that Kristol and the other "sensible" neocons know that the Republican party needs a long spell in the wilderness. Obama may be the one that can unite the nation at a time when it is desperately needed. Hopefully the bitter Republican base will be so marginalized that it is not capable of getting in the way. SplendidMarbles

Posted by: SplendidMarbles on November 11, 2008 10:42 AM

I had heard that Kristol's NYTimes contract stipulated that he actually write his own columns. *gulp* Also, that the editors let them be printed 'as-is' as their little joke. A terrible writer. A poor thinker. More neo-con nepotism. Looking forward to some talented people in the news business, or at least, here's hoping.

Posted by: deepsouth on November 12, 2008 11:48 AM
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