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Rating Bo Obama’s job performance

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The First Dog has completed his first year in office, and, as far as we can tell,  he has performed his duties (that’s duties, with a “T”) admirably.

Bo has been cute, playful and photogenic, and he has made the Obamas, who can come across as a little robotic at times, appear a little more down to earth and, though they live in that big white house, a little more like the rest of us.

(You can view a nice Washington Post photo gallery of Bo — it comes up after the annoying advertisement – here.)

There are those who say the White House could be reaping more benefits from Bo, but in our opinion, it’s not about what your dog can do for you, but about what you can do for your dog.

The Obamas held off on getting a dog until they were settled in the White House. Obama was, in fact, the first pet-less president ever elected — a fact some say cost him pet-lover support during the campaign.

Once in office, the family’s scientific — some might say emotionless — approach to getting a dog, one they could be assured wouldn’t trigger their daughter’s allergies, and the fact they didn’t get a dog in need of rescue, may have taken away some of the moment’s charm as well, but not much.

All of this was studied by Diana C. Mutz — yes, Mutz –  the Samuel A. Stouffer Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania who, according to Daniel Rubin in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer column, studied the electoral appeal of Barack Obama in the fall.

Her conclusion, says Rubin: “Dude could have used a dog.”

All of Obama’s pre-election talk about how they were going to get a dog underscored the fact that the presidential contender did not have one, according to Mutz’s research.

Mutz says Obama was the first pet-less elected president (Chester Alan Arthur, the 21st president, didn’t have one, but he was appointed after James Garfield was shot.)

More than 400 pets have occupied the White House, she says, and dog lovers represent a huge chunk of the electorate, with about half of U.S. households owning dogs (Republicans more so than Democrats, by 6 percent.)

Mutz, who has two dogs, three cats and runs an animal rescue out of her home, concluded that  the probability of voting for Obama went down 16 percent if one owned a dog.

Quite possibly, she says, dog owners identify with other dog owners, and  a sort of projection occurs where dog owners prefer the more “doglike” candidate.

I know I do; and by doglike, I mean honest.

As much as Bo — a Portuguese water dog that was a gift to the First Family from the late Ted Kennedy — might have helped in the campaign, the Obama family getting a dog then would have smacked of exploitation. I respect the fact they waited, and that, in the year since his arrival, he has not been overly-foisted on the public.

So keep up the good work, Bo, and just be a dog.

 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Comments

Comment from Tammy
Time April 16, 2010 at 11:31 am

Wow! I didn’t realize that President Obama was the only pet-less president to be elected! That is a very interesting statistic. Thanks for sharing this post!

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