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Wagging the Rescue Dog Vote

October 6, 2008 |  9:29 am

Checkers_richard_nixon_library_and_ Great news from the campaign on the rescue front!

Not the economic rescue package. The canine rescue package.

Michelle Obama pledged on ``Entertainment Tonight’’ that when the family gets a dog – Barack Obama has promised one to his daughters once the campaign is over – it will be a rescue dog from a shelter.

Online petitions urging the Obamas to do just that have been circulating, accumulating thousands of signatures from people – most of them probably voters – who want the Obamas to adopt a homeless dog, not buy a purebred. Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, wrote to the senator personally, asking that he adopt a ``Great American Mutt’’ from the thousands upon thousands of dogs doomed to die, ``When you are ready, please adopt a homeless pound puppy – a grateful refugee from a society that has not always treated the true ‘’underdog’’ kindly ...’’

[Personally, I am tickled by the Obamas’ decision, and hope it will set an example. The North Central city shelter I visit is overflowing with strays and dumped dogs – while I was dropping off old newspapers for the puppy and kitten cages the other day, people gave up three dogs in almost as few minutes, because they didn’t want them or couldn’t take care of them any more.]

Icing on the dog-biscuit cake: the Humane Society Legislative Fund is endorsing Obama, in no small part because of Sarah Palin’s support for the appalling practice of aerial hunting of wolves, overruling Alaska voters -- real sportsmanship there -- and that she sued to keep polar bears from being listed as a threatened species.

There have been a lot of Presidential dogs, most of them purebreds. The most famous political dog since FDR’s Fala, however, belonged to a vice presidential candidate – Richard Nixon.

Nixon_apCheckers was a black and white cocker spaniel puppy given to the Nixon family by a Texas supporter, and as accusations boiled that Nixon had accepted illegal campaign contributions, Nixon battled to stay on the ticket with Eisenhower. His televised ‘’Checkers’’ speech, written at the Ambassador Hotel and broadcast from the El Capitan theatre on September 23, 1952, defended his family’s ‘’respectable Republican cloth coat’’ lifestyle. But he admitted that Checkers was a gift, and he wasn’t giving him back.

The speech, both mawkish and defiant, kept Nixon on the ticket.

Checkers wasn’t a rescue dog, but evidently a purebred cocker spaniel.

I take that back. Checkers was a rescue dog of sorts: he rescued Nixon’s political career.

Top photo: The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace; bottom photo: AP

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