We have FDR and Nixon to thank for this — Fala and Checkers. Back in September 1944 during the presidential election, Republicon dirty tricks operatives charged Roosevelt with leaving Fala behind on the Aleutian islands, then sending a Navy destroyer to retrieve the dog. FDR delivered his now famous Fala speech:
These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. [laughter] Well, of course, I don't resent attacks, and my family doesn't resent attacks — but Fala does resent them.FDR had a sense of humor about it all. It's become more serious since then. Eight years after FDR, almost to the day (September 1952), Nixon found himself accused of accepting $18,000 in illegal campaign contributions. (He must have been practicing.) In one of the early great uses of television, Tricky Dick rebutted the allegations but did admit receiving a dog — Checkers. He and his family were going to keep the dog, by gum.
This one is interesting. First, Nixon intuited how to use television. Something he supposedly forgot when he refused make-up in his debate with Kennedy. And something that should sound familiar today, Nixon denied that wife Pat had a mink coat: She had a "respectable Republican cloth coat".
With all the lessons that the Republicons have taken from Tricky, you might have thought that Sarah Palin could have learned that one. But then again, she is a person who thinks Africa is a country. (Probably in the same camp as Bush on that one.)
So now each President has to have a dog, and Obama is milking it for all it's worth. At least his kids really are thrilled.
Isn't it interesting that it's not enough that a President has to have a family — be a nice, straight, going-to-church person. He (someday she) has to have dog. Not a cat. Not fish. Not an iguana. A dog.