Politics with a bite: Trump still has time to “Make America Grrr Again”

As Harry Truman said, “You want a friend in Washington?  Get a dog.”   

Most Presidents, when they get a dog, do so for the photo op.  They cuddle, pet and scratch their photogenic pooch.  It revs up the inner juices of canine lovers everywhere.  

But not the Trumans.  Harry and Bess Truman moved to the White House in April 1945 after FDR’s death.  They were determined to remain dogless during Truman’s presidency.  When an admirer sent them a cocker spaniel puppy named “Feller”, Truman thanked his donor but gave Feller away, which raised the (ahem) hackles of  the Dog Lovers of America.  

The present occupant of the White House has a problem.  He also likes dogs.  But like other things, he tends to overlook their inbred lack of social graces.

Mr. Biden’s first problem was Major, a rescue German Shepherd who bites.  Major may or may not issue a warning snarl, depending on the political background of the target.  Senator Tommy Tuberville, whose Senate career has evolved into keeping track of generals and admirals, introduced a Senate resolution denying Major’s promotion to Lt. Colonel.  Tuberville dared not go to the White House – Major was waiting quietly and ferociously.  

Having tasted the sweet nectar of “the chomp” twice, Major’s problem has now mutated.  In the White House hallways, staffers now keep their eyes glued for deposits on the expensive rugs.  Major liked to drop his business card here and there, a reminder to others that Major was still on duty.  

The staff dare not ask the Prez fix the doggie-do-do problem.  The President has been known to insult people with dog references.  Remember the questioner in the 2020 campaign who disagreed with candidate Biden.  Biden then called the man a “lying dog faced pony soldier”.  

Hey, dogs get excited.  There’s a lot of hoopla going on in the White House to excite them.  Why wouldn’t a dog do a … dog thing?  But the ambassador to Upper Calf Slobber Siberia, doesn’t want to come out of the White House diplomatic room and have to clean dog poo off her shoe.  

No one was allowed to discipline Major for his ill-timed alimentary contractions.  

In fairness, Major isn’t the first multi-biting Presidential pooch. Teddy Roosevelt’s English bulldog, “Pete,” attacked a French ambassador, causing a potential international incident.  FDR had a German Shepherd, also named Major, who in 1933 attacked English Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, tearing MacDonald’s pants cuff.  MacDonald had just switched parties, from leading the Labour Party to the Conservatives, which apparently neither Major nor FDR approved of.

Biden’s dog Major’s second attempted bite on a National Park Service fellow was enough for the President.  Major was shipped off to doggie Siberia  in favor of another German Shepherd named Commander.  A Commander is a higher rank than a Major, and Commander felt entitled to more than two bites.  As of July 2023, the White House press corps reports Commander has bitten or attempted to bite ten different people, some of them Secret Service agents, one of them requiring stitches.  

This prompted the White House human resources staff to revise the job description for Secret Service agent:  “Must like children and not bleed much.”  

As one critic put it, “There’s nothing wrong with [Commander], it’s the company he has been keeping.”  The House Judiciary Committee is considering impeachment proceedings against Commander.

Perhaps Trump and Truman are more alike that we think – at least on dogs.  If Trump had included a dog in the White House and milked that association appropriately, we might still be calling him “Mr. President.”  But in 2019, Trump said he would feel a little phony having a dog.  Trump attributes lots of negativism to dogs.  Political enemies “choke like a dog,” or “lie like a dog.”  Trump bragged that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “died like a dog” when a American special ops team found him and took him out.  

On the other hand, Truman was reelected handily even when the pundits thought his daughter couldn’t sing, and Bess was taller.  The great national secret in the 1948 election was that Truman preferred domestic Felis Catus.  House cats.  The cat loving voters reelected him.  

I have a phony picture of Lincoln petting a Goldendale.  I’d have recommended Trump put a picture of a Goldendale next to him on his campaign brochures, and claim the Goldendale is his.  Then with his penchant for thinking upon himself as possessing the traits of kings, he could claim the Goldendale the royal dog of Mar-a-Lago.  

His MAGA hats could stand for “Make America Grrrr Again.”

With the right dog, elections can be salvaged.  I would have told Mr. Trump that.  But he didn’t call for my advice.

Ron Smith – Humor

Dean Halliday Smith is a fifth generation Kansan, an attorney, a grandfather several times over, a Vietnam veteran, and a civil war historian. Territorial Kansas, the Civil War, and the post-Civil War west are his subjects of interest. Manhattan KS graduate, graduated Kansas Wesleyan in ’73.  Worked on Governor John Carlin’s staff in 1980-81.  Lobbied for the Kansas Bar Association for 14 years. His small farm is near where the historic Santa Fe Trail converged on the “Pawnee Fork” along the wet route of the SFT.