PARIS — Barack Obama's family searched the country for a dog at the beginning of his presidency. Bo's first paw steps turned the Obama White House into a home. Is it time now that his successor, President Donald Trump, should also acquire a pet?
Caitlin Gibson wrote in the Washington Post that getting a dog would generate good press for the president; it would make him more likeable, bridge political divides, lower stress and satiate Trump's need for loyalty. Remember Richard Nixon's infamous "Checkers speech" in 1952 that mentioned the family cocker spaniel? Nixon, then a senator accused of abusing a political expense fund, turned around public opinion when he referred to the "black-and-white, spotted" dog.
Could this work for Trump? Unlike Nixon, Trump doesn't have just one financial scandal to distract his audience from right now. He'd need a pack of dogs for the number of controversies he's embroiled in: tax compliance, antitrust violations, Trump University court cases, four bankruptcies. And those are just those related to his finances.
Gibson's suggestion has stirred debate. Trump's temperament could be compared to that of a dog. When a dog barks, it won't stop until it gets your attention. But it could also be argued that a cat is a better fit for the president considering his feline attributes. He is known to have late-night spurts of energy scratching on Twitter; he also has the same orange and yellow coloring as Garfield.
But Trump is not likely to be able to look after a cat. Cats take time to win over. They don't like loud, boisterous humans chasing after them; they prefer to cuddle up to the one person who ignores them. If you want a cat to like you, the best strategy would be to act aloof and pretend to be uninterested. Such subtlety isn't really the Trump administration's style. For instance, confronted with North Korea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the country that U.S. would consider military action. So much for playing coy.
It doesn't look like Trump is well suited for a dog or a cat. Maybe he should leave animals alone. Humans too.