Prop No Longer Useful, Thrown Away

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The Times of London is reporting that Hillary and Bill Clinton gave Socks, their White House pet, away when the cat was no longer publicly needed as a prop. Ah, the soft, maternal side of the woman who would be president.

AS THE “first pet” of the Clinton era, Socks, the White House cat, allowed “chilly” Hillary Clinton to show a caring, maternal side as well as bringing joy to her daughter Chelsea. So where is Socks today?

Once the presidency was over, there was no room for Socks any more. After years of loyal service at the White House, the black and white cat was dumped on Betty Currie, Bill Clinton’s personal secretary, who also had an embarrassing clean-up role in the saga of his relationship with the intern Monica Lewinsky.

Some believe the abandoned pet could now come between Hillary Clinton and her ambition to return to the White House as America’s first woman president.

Clinton has been boosting her prospects in the past week with some homespun references to her gender as part of a series of events with the theme Women Changing America, during which she chatted girlfriend-to-girlfriend and mom-to-mom with female voters.

The softening of Clinton’s image seems to be working. Her chief strategist, Mark Penn, predicts that up to a quarter of Republican women will vote for her. She leads Democratic rivals in the polls by 26 points and is scooping up more donations to her war chest from Wall Street and defence contractors than any candidate from either party – an unmistakable indicator of who they think will win in 2008.

Clinton’s treatment of Socks cuts to the heart of the questions about her candidacy. Is she too cold and calculating to win the presidency? Or does it signify political invincibility by showing she is willing to deploy every weapon to get what she wants?

“In the annals of human evil, off-loading a pet is nowhere near the top of the list,” writes Caitlin Flanagan in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine. “But neither is it dead last, and it is especially galling when said pet has been deployed for years as an all-purpose character reference.”

Flanagan’s article, headed No Girlfriend of Mine, points out that Clinton wrote a crowd-pleas-ing book Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets, in which she claimed that only with the arrival of Socks and his “toy mouse” did the White House “become a home”.

Wow. Talk about cold-blooded calculation. The cat as prop for exactly as long as required and not a moment longer. Then dump the poor creature on someone else. I doubt my wife would have voted for Hillary before this. Now? Not a chance in hell. Is this a tempest in a kitty litter box? I don't think it will be. Some people are going to take a lot of offense to this. And if she'd dump a totally dependent animal, how do you think she treats humans?

UPDATE: Thanks to The Pirate's Cove for the link, I'm glad you like the new look! (He always has the best pinups.)

UPDATE: Others: Say AnythingAlthouse, GINA COBB, Don Surber, Sweetness & Light, BitsBlog, normblog, Neptunus Lex, Vox Popoli, Suitably Flipsmall dead animals, Best line of all of the links is from Gina Cobb: First the Hsus; then the Socks. Brilliant, bravo, Gina. Bustardblog, meanwhile, springs to Hillary's defense by trying to misdirect onto Republicans. The point here is that Hillary is already at a 50% negative rating. 50% of voters say they would not vote for her. The loss of even a few votes is a real problem for her.

(Side note, my wife was revolted by Hillary's actions. My wife is a cat lover – I am extremely allergic to cats. Consequently, we have a cat (down from two after one met an untimely demise). You do not want to mess with a cat lover. You will lose.)

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8 Responses to Prop No Longer Useful, Thrown Away

  1. feeblemind says:

    Good points all Gaius, but it is 13 months to the election. Will this be long forgotten by then? Someone will need to keep this story alive. Think the MSM will?

  2. Gaius says:

    I dunno – people have long memories about this sort of thing – it could really hurt.

  3. Now that Mel Martinez is stepping down as RNC Chairman, hopefully the new on will have some cajones, and attack Hillary and the Dems with stories like this, and remember them next year.

    Where’s PETA when you need them?

  4. Pingback: Pirate's Cove

  5. feeblemind says:

    Anyone know the fate of the cat? I think HRC can plausibly argue that her work/travel schedule would be such that she would not have time for a pet. Therefore the best thing for the cat would be to give it a new home. On the other hand, if her secretary just took the cat to the vet or local animal shelter and had it put to sleep, that would be an entirely different matter.

  6. Gaius says:

    I’m quite sure that the Clinton war room is busy as heck figuring how to spin this and that the usual suspects will all be bleating in unison by this time tommorow with virtually identically worded posts. Which will eventually end up, word-for-word in the MSM.

    (None of which will generate a drop of sympathy from true cat lovers.)

  7. Matt Brown says:

    Any outrage, feigned or otherwise, on this matter is quite ridiculous. Someone (Hillary Clinton) who owned a pet (Socks the cat) realized that, for whatever reasons (she’d be spending time in Washington, away from her home; her husband would be spending time traveling the country and working in his Harlem office), she could no longer keep it and so she gave it to someone (her husband’s former secretary) that could care more adequately care for it. Why is this an issue? It’s not like she had it killed or threw it down the river or something. It’s certainly not like Socks went to some park in Washington, D.C. and committed suicide.

  8. Gaius says:

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    Is that the talking point that will make the rounds? Gee, do I rate a trial balloon?

    Talk to any cat person and ask what they think of someone abandoning a cat under all but the most extreme circumstances. Political expediency is not going to cut it with them. Period.

    I can see this now. Socks will be tearfully reunited with Hillary. She’ll hold socks up to her face and Socks will savage her. It will be a “Checkers” speech with an evil twist.

    No matter how this is spun, it cost Hilary a few votes, bet on it. And with a 50% “would NEVER vote for” against her, every vote she loses hurts.

    UPDATED: Incidentally, Matt, going around and dropping the same comment in multiple blogs via cut and paste makes you look like an astroturfer dispensing talking points. But you knew that, right?

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