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Jewish World Review Jan. 4, 2002 / 20 Teves, 5762

Julia Gorin

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Buddy's Dead. Is Anyone Surprised? -- I OWE my husband fifty bucks. I'd said the dog wouldn't make it to 2002. I guess I underestimated the ex-president's care-taking proclivities.

Buddy was accidentally struck Wednesday afternoon when he darted out in front of a car on a busy two-lane road at the end of the cul-de-sac where the Clinton house stands.

I find myself wondering whether, upon hearing the news about Buddy, Mr. Clinton even remembered that he had a dog. Considering how expendable human life was rumored to be under his watch, what could a canine one count for?

Granted, the dog was mostly under someone else's watch. Still, if you care about the dog, you lay down the law with the caretakers-or with the Secret Service, as the case may be. A dog's babysitters will take their cues from the dog's owner, and will tend to be either as vigilant or as cavalier as the master is. If the master's attitude is lackadaisical, why should theirs be any less so?

I remember the day they told us that the president got a dog. As a dog lover I was more than a little disturbed by the thought of a soft fluffy and genuine thing getting into the clutches of that "family." Does Hillary strike anyone as someone who likes dogs? (Actually, they did have a cocker spaniel when they were Governor, but Hillary reportedly didn't like it in the house.)

It is worth noting that the Clintons got Buddy AFTER they were already First Family and in the public eye, to bolster their image as a real family. In contrast, the first Bushes had had Millie for years before they got into the White House, and the current Bushes likewise were partial to dogs and got Spot (and Barney) BEFORE the world was watching.

What happened to Buddy is precisely what can be expected to happen to a dog when it's meant to be little more than a pawn in its owners' ongoing attempts to impersonate human beings.

However, to give credit where credit is due-at least Bill Clinton didn't entertain photographers and guests by dangling his dog by the ears while it squealed-the way that other great humanitarian, creator of the Great Society, Lyndon Johnson, did to his dogs "Him" and "Her."

So Buddy's dead. Socks they gave away. Has anyone seen Chelsea?

Personally, I was surprised the girl made it past the '93 inauguration, having already done her part to fulfill the minimum quota for a family unit so her parents could have a political life. Of course, she was a self-sufficient adolescent by then, not quite as vulnerable as a dependent canine. The only visible, physical manifestations so far of the stress she's endured from playing her role are the chain smoking and the boozing (although she held off on the latter all through college, until her parents were out of the White House). More symptoms will be sure to manifest themselves as the years go on. But notice how, far from the mischievous Bush daughters, this kid was a stellar child; she never made a wrong move. She must have known her life depended on it.

At any rate, the Clintons most likely won't be getting another dog, seeing as how it wouldn't serve any political end at this point. If they should try, however, one would hope that the animal rights people make a negligence claim against them to prevent it. (More likely, though, the rights groups' ideals will take a backseat to Bill Clinton's whims, just as those of the National Organization for Women did.)

Then again, one shouldn't rush to judgment, since we don't yet know the full story. Maybe Buddy wanted to die. Maybe he pulled a Vince Foster. Perhaps he had seen and heard too much in that house, was privy to too many unspeakable schemes and just couldn't take the guilt.

JWR contributor Julia Gorin is a journalist and stand-up comic residing in Manhattan. Send your comments by clicking here.

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