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.”
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.