Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

from a dog's perspective -

Somehow I missed that Ben Greenman helped Bo, the White House dog, give his comment on his first 100 days in the White House. Here it is.

Op-Ed Contributor

The First Hundred (Dog) Days

Published: July 16, 2009

BEFORE my arrival in the White House in April, I was not well known to the American people. Perhaps understandably, I was greeted with some suspicion. “Portuguese water dog” has a foreign sound to it. My hair covers my eyes, which can create the impression that I am not trustworthy. From the first, I took it upon myself not only to illustrate my own belief in clear thinking and accountability, but to give the American people a sense of what their lives would be like during my time in the White House. As I approach the milestone of my first 100 days in office, I want to reiterate some of my basic convictions.

Historically, my breed is used to herd fish in shallows or carry messages from ships to the nearby shore, and I have tried to show the American people that I will continue that tradition, both leading (the fish) and communicating (the messages). I have succeeded more than I have failed, but there have been lapses. Remember when I bit that reporter’s microphone? I had a sudden urge to get that thing. I thought it was a fish. Even thinking about it now makes me jumpy. Another time the president almost tripped over my leash, and even though that wasn’t technically my fault, I take full responsibility.

My time in the White House thus far has had one driving theme: we all share the same world. There have been those who have criticized my willingness to sniff in an exploratory manner around hostile breeds from foreign lands. But remember, we are all one species, from the tiniest Chihuahua to the mightiest mastiff. I have tried to practice this openness closer to home as well, by spending more time with Joe Biden’s German shepherd puppy, despite our considerable difference in temperament and bite force.

The press likes to play a game where it compares my record with that of other presidential pets. I find that premature and unhelpful. Other presidential pets came to power in different times, and faced different challenges.

Still, I would like to remark briefly upon the pet to whom I am most often compared. Fala came to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in November 1940, and quickly captured the national imagination. But Fala lived in a time when there was an understanding between the press and politicians, and many of his peccadilloes (his habit of eating garbage, his eye for the ladies) were simply overlooked.

By comparison, consider the way that the news media scrutinized Buddy, the Clintons’ Labrador. Before his untimely death by car accident in 2002, Buddy was persistently maligned by rumors that he did not get along with Socks the cat, as if that were his fault. (Cats, need I remind you, are jerks.)

In the end, while it is all well and good to compare this dog with that dog, any honest and forthright White House pet must acknowledge that we are all standing in the long shadow cast by Dash, the brilliant, charming, perfect-tailed collie mix owned by President Benjamin Harrison’s wife, Caroline. Dash responded to voice commands with great efficiency, never demonstrated undue unruliness and still found time to pursue his own interests. I use his example to remind myself that there is always room for improvement, and that we should never fail to aspire to perfection, even as we know that we cannot reach it. Excuse me: I must chase a ball.

O.K., I’m back. As we head into the second hundred days of my administration, I feel more pride and pleasure than ever at the prospect of serving the American people and finding ways to make this nation, and this planet, a better place for our children and our children’s children. I am speaking metaphorically here, of course, as I am neutered.

This has been a rewarding but difficult time for our nation, yet I remain confident of our prospects so long as I spend every day with at least three feet on the ground — four is a little optimistic, if you know what I mean. Thank you.

Ben Greenman, an editor at The New Yorker, is the author most recently of the novel “Please Step Back.”

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