Teddy Kennedy returned to the Senate yesterday, as the New York Times put it, "flanked by his wife Vicki and his two Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Splash." Much speculation has been raised about the role of these influential, rare and intelligent dogs in the new Obama administration. I'm not surprised about this. Sunny and Splash delivered a critical endorsement in the primary season that some have credited with turning the Obama campaign around, and they worked unstintingly for our current President-elect while Teddy was being treated for brain cancer. Right now, the Radical's informants are silent on what offices Sunny and Splash have been offered, but the advantages to appointing the Kennedy dogs are obvious: neither has ever sent an email that could embarrass them, their family or the administration. And they are Kennedys, underlining the point the national press seems to be going to town on lately, which is that the Obamas should not be scary to anybody because they are really just African American Kennedys (think Black Barbie.) Try Googling "Bamelot" and see how many hits you come up with.
But what Sunny and Splash will have to overcome are the three most common misunderstandings about the propriety of Portuguese water dogs participating in politics in the first place, and this, at least, is a serious issue.
Portuguese water dogs are already powerful movers and shakers in the Senate: why give them more influence? If Portuguese water dogs were as powerful as they would like to be , we would have national health care, bailing out the Big Three auto makers would not even be a question, banks would have been regulated up the wazoo, and the troops would be home from Iraq and Afghanistan now. We would also have a national "time out" every day at 11 a.m. when all citizens went outside, rain or shine, and chased tennis balls.
Portuguese water dogs are politically divisive figures and well-known biters of reporters. Also not true: in fact, they have hardly seen a reporter in the last eight years, having been crowded out by special interests and a variety of terriers who work for Dick Cheney (but who claim to be George and Laura Bush's "pets.") In fact, Portuguese water dogs dedicate themselves to currying favor with everyone and will continue to negotiate even after the bill is passed. They are well-known for constantly crossing --and re-crossing -- the aisle in true non-partisan fashion, particularly if Orrin Hatch has left an old potato chip bag in the wastebasket under his desk but Harry Reid dumped donut crumbs in his.
There was once a political scandal when a Portuguese water dog received a $400 haircut and it was reported in the national news; Obama will thus be endangered by the specter of gay hairdressers coalescing as a special interest to demand national bad hair insurance. There is some truth to this. But the cost of the haircut in question was exaggerated. How do these lies get spread? The top price for a wash, blow dry, clip, ear-plucking, and toe-nail trim is about $135, probably less at the Senate barbershop. And although it was repeatedly suppressed during the campaign, liberal as well as conservative policy makers are well aware that bad hair is a critical national security issue.