- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2002

If the people rumored to be on Bill Clinton's unofficial payroll for "taking out" his enemies ever prove real, they will have been superfluous. It only takes a run-in with any die-hard Clinton supporter to realize that they're ready to kill for the man over so much as a critical word against their patron saint.
Last week, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek article about the untimely death of the Clintons' dog Buddy. Written from the perspective of a dog lover who felt Buddy's death was symptomatic of an unbroken consistency in the cavalier Clinton character, it was published in more than 10 newspapers across the country. And from across the country, I promptly received 600 vitriolic e-mails full of expletives, and misspelled expletives, from folks still bitter over the 2000 election, who advised me to "write about Enron instead." Several wished me a poetically just death "like Barbara Olsen's" while others said people like me should be arrested and shot. (One would think that they might cut down on at least some of the hypocrisy by saying "arrested and stabbed.")
As each pleasant, lyrical ring of my e-mail program spewed forth yet more venomous and vulgar tirades from folks whose very reading comprehension skills proved questionable, more details about the Clintons' dog history were emerging. As with all things Clintonian, truth proved worse than cynical assumption.
It has come out, for instance, that the Clintons' previous dog, a cocker spaniel named and misspelled Zeke, was also hit and killed by a car "after years of near misses," according to Hillary, while the couple were governor of Arkansas. Hillary didn't like the dog indoors, so Zeke was relegated to roaming Little Rock, managing to father some litters before his owners finally neutered him after neighbors complained. Obvious analogies between master and dog aside, here is yet another example that the ex-president didn't set timely spaying or neutering of one's pet, in compliance with the endless implorations of most cities and animal welfare organizations.
As for Buddy, one neighbor was used to seeing the dog roving in her yard unattended. We, meanwhile, got used to seeing footage of the former president walking Buddy off-leash, in a manner suggesting that Bill Clinton was out for a stroll, and the dog decided to follow at his own risk. This, despite Buddy's reputation for being unruly and despite a dog trainer's strict advice that Buddy always be on a leash when outside the home.
Certainly, as my newfound detractors point out, good people lose their dogs; losing a dog doesn't make one a bad person. However, a bad person is more likely to lose his dog. With the Clintons, it wasn't going to be any other way. Buddy's death was more inevitability than tragedy. The tragedy happened in 1997, when the Clintons brought home a puppy. Because even from the distance of four years ago and fresh puppy-hood, the less reluctant observers among us could already discern an untimely death. Buddy lived less than one year since Bill Clinton's entry into private life. If there is any surprise here, it's that the dog lasted that long.
Yes, we've seen plenty of photo-ops of man and dog playing and kissing. Despite Dick Morris's recent assertion to writer Andrew Sullivan that he has never seen this man privately "so much as touch a dog" and despite the nearly scientific poll that decided on the chocolate lab, pinpointing it as the most popular breed and color let's give Mr. Clinton the benefit of the doubt and assume that his affections for Buddy were genuine. And still it misses the point: Children love dogs, too, but they don't love taking care of them. That's why an adult needs to be around. There was none for Buddy. Can anyone sincerely picture the ex-president getting up at 3:00 in the morning to walk his dog if necessary?
While Buddy was rambling into strange yards, the New York Times described his master, post-September 11, as "a frustrated spectator, unable to guide the nation through a crisis that is far bigger than anything he confronted in his eight-year tenure." If only he had started with his dog something that was his immediate responsibility he could have averted a much smaller crisis, and perhaps found himself less frustrated. But instead of preventing another death, he cost another life.
And still we hear of the flurry of offers to the Clintons suggestions from breeders, shelters and well-wishers for their next dog. One transit police sergeant who paid a $2,000 surgery bill when he found a shepherd mix that was run over by a van in East New York just before Christmas says he thinks "Holly," who lost a leg in the accident, would make a fitting choice for the Clintons' new dog. Why? So she can lose the other three? Because she already has one foot in the grave?
Decent folks who assume decent intentions or any intentions at all on the part of others won't get it until a third Clinton dog dies. But Clinton supporters won't get it even then. Just like everything the Clintons did was defensible to them until, as George Will put it, they "stole the toaster," it'll take a fourth dog. So we're still two dogs away. Then, they'll have had enough. Maybe.
So as my jaw drops while I read the 600 letters telling me to get a life, assuring me that I have no professional future, and psychoanalyzing me as bitter that Bill Clinton hasn't had sex with me yet, I remind myself of something that keeps everything in perspective: These are Clinton supporters.

Julia Gorin is a columnist living in New York and a contributing editor to JewishWorldReview.com.

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