While on ABC’s This Week, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said that the stories about the Obama’s dog were stupid, and asked who cares? Believe it or not Mr. Speaker, some people, especially kids, care. More importantly, after eight years of gloom and doom, America just wants to have a little fun.
Gingrich had no time for the puppy talk, “I hope that the girls love the dog. I hope the family and all the pressure they are going to be in finds it useful, and I think this whole thing is fairly stupid. It’s great that they have a dog. It’s great that the kids are adjusting, and where they got it from who cares. It was a nice gesture on Sen. Kennedy’s part to give it to them, but who cares, and of course now they have done their liberal gesture because they donated money to the pound.”
From a strictly political point of view this story is total fluff, but I can tell you who cares about this story. Kids care. One of the nice things about having children living in the White House again is that it gives kids around the country an emotional connection to their government. When Mr. and Mrs. Obama are mentioned by kids, they always mention their daughters.
For children, a new puppy is a big deal. It is natural that they would be interested in the kind of dog that the Obamas were going to get. I think that anything, even a puppy, that helps humanize the White House and the government for children is a good thing.
Gingrich is expressing some sour grapes over the kind of pop culture coverage that Obama is getting. After the scandal plagued Clinton years, and the secrecy and mistrust of the Bush years, people are hungry for a president and First Family that they can like. Many Americans want to feel good about the president and the presidency again, and they have embraced Obama much for the same reason that so many were motivated by his message of hope. A majority of people in this country want to believe in the president again.
Sure stories about Bo Obama the First Dog are frivolous, but after all the gloom and doom of the Bush years, the nation wants to have a little fun. It is nice to have a president that is respected around the world, but it is much more important to have a president who lends respect to the office at home.
It is no coincidence that one of the presidents that Obama is compared to most often is Ronald Reagan, because it has been since Reagan that the nation had a president who didn’t embarrass it in some way. I have a hunch that Newt Gingrich would think that the coverage of the First Dog was great if a Republican president was getting the press.