Get the red, white and blue bunting ready because Wednesday is National Dogs In Politics Day. Why this date? On September 23, 1952, California Senator and then Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Richard Nixon gave his “Checkers Speech.” Back then, long before Watergate, Nixon was accused of improper use of money contributed for official political purposes. In his televised defense, Nixon attacked his political opponents, declared his innocence and good moral character (we all saw how that worked out!), and bragged that regardless the consequences he was going to keep the one and (he claimed) only gift he had accepted: the little dog his children had named Checkers. Oddly enough, FDR gave his own dog-in-politics speech on the same exact date back in 1945 in which he mocked Republicans for claiming that he had sent a U.S. Battleship to retrieve his dog, Fala, supposedly left behind in the Aleutian Islands. If the fact that those two speeches both happened September 23, but 8 years apart, isn’t deserving of a National Day celebrating dogs in politics, I don’t know what is.

Internet searches deliver a lot of fun stuff on the topic, noteworthy during this most un-fun period in our nation’s political life. For example, some sources claim the Clinton’s Chocolate Lab Buddy came into their lives to help sweeten the image at the urging of advisors anticipating the Monica Lewinsky scandal. True or not, that’s one hell of an example of dogs in politics. No question about the fact that President Trump is the first occupant of the White House to live there without a dog, but there’s also lots of gossipy stuff when it comes to why. Dog issues…? Well, his lengthy track-record of insults includes many unfavorable dog-related putdowns (people are “fired like a dog,” “dumped like a dog,” and have “the face of a dog”), and first ex-wife Ivana claims he absolutely loathes them (the dislike apparently mutual, since her poodle Chappy barked territorially whenever The Donald went near her closet).

Personally, I’d welcome more dogs in politics, or at least politicians who can evidence dog-like loyalty, empathy, and joyfulness. Dogs may sniff their own butts, but at least they don’t get their heads permanently stuck up there!

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