Open Letter to Barack Obama and Family

A modest proposal on the critical issue of White House pets

By Tobin Hack

Dear Senator and Mrs. Obama,

We at Plenty Magazine applaud you and your family for your recent decision to make a canine addition to the Obama clan. The “Obama Family: Adopt a dog!” Facebook group had to pay off eventually, and what a sigh of relief we all breathed when it did. We have no doubt that you, far and away the greener candidate for President, will take office come November, and it is our hope that you will bring with you as many pets as you can possibly cram into the White House.

What’s more thrilling is that you’ve decided to adopt a shelter mutt instead of a purebred, once again honoring America’s proud legacy as a cultural melting pot. We would like to humbly suggest some politically advantageous breeds you might look for in Fido hopefuls. Perhaps, for example, you could find a mutt with some Afghan Hound (originating in Afghanistan) in his extended family. As Sarah Palin has been quick to remind us all, she lives near Russia, so you’ll want to make every effort to clear the high bar she’s set for her ticket on the international relations front. You might also keep an eye out for dogs with German shepherd, Irish setter, Norwegian Elkhound, or English bulldog blood.

But historically, commanders in chief have gone much further than just one puppy-faced mutt—albeit of diverse ancestry—in their presidential efforts to explore and promote biodiversity. Old Abe had a pig, for example. John Quincy Adams had an alligator as well as silkworms which his wife, Louisa, kept. Thomas Jefferson, apparently a fan of Harper Lee, kept a mockingbird. Buchanan had a pair of bald eagles and a herd of elephants given to him by the King of Siam. John Adams, that guy from the HBO series, had a horse named Cleopatra.

We have therefore taken the liberty of consulting our team of top endangered species experts, and compiled a list of suggestions for your consideration. So please, don't stop at just one pet, and don't stick to cats and dogs. (Bear in mind that Biden has a cat, and smiles like one too, so you need not worry about snaring the single-matrons-over 50 demographic.)

In fact, once Fido is settled comfortably into his new DC residence, we urge you to immediately install a beehive on the White House grounds. What is the Rose Garden for, if not beekeeping? You’ve heard about the honey bee’s plight, or “colony collapse disorder” (CCD), in the news. Bees are dropping like flies, and we need them—not just to produce honey, but to pollinate important crops like California almonds. Think of the national attention you could bring to this agricultural crisis! Additionally, the beehive is emblematic of many qualities you, too, possess in spades—industry, perseverance, and self-reliance, to name a few. Furthermore, the skills you’ll take away from protecting your hive from CCD will serve you well when it comes time to protect the American people from the ramifications of a tanking economy. Just as we don’t know whether it’s genetically modified crops, varroa mites, poor nutrition, cell phone radiation, or general stress that’s causing worker bees to die off, we don’t know if the current economic crisis was caused by corporate greed, high foreclosure rates, high oil and commodity prices, or President Bush. What’s more, McCain supporters have called attention to the lack of military service on your record. You’ll deflate their argument each time you don your military-esque beekeepers’ mask. Lastly—and perhaps most importantly—bees dance to communicate. So do you.

But please, don’t feel obliged to stop there. Nearly a quarter of the world’s wild mammal species are endangered today. This of course means that you can pick practically any animal out of a hat and feel confident that it is most likely in desperate need of your help. Consider the grey wolf, a species which, according to the World Wildlife Foundation, is known for its “intelligence and adaptability.” If that doesn’t say “Obama,” we don’t know what does. Just make sure not to let Wolfie near Sarah Palin—one never knows when she’ll whip out her rifle or Sarah-Cuda Hunting Bow and take a cheap shot from a low-flying plane above the White House lawn.

Physically, Senator Obama, you’d probably relate well to a meercat or giraffe, both statuesque in a wiry, Abe Lincoln sort of way. It’s often said that people start to look like their pets. Our feeling on the matter is: Why not get a head start?

Next, you could do worse than to add a Darwin’s fox to your presidential menagerie. Bring him along to scientific research conferences as a reminder to the American people that they almost elected a creationist for Vice President. Matter of fact, why not take a page out of Lyndon Johnson’s book and get a Beagle puppy while you’re at it, to really drive the point home. “HMS” seems to suggest itself as a logical name.

Why not throw in a lion—Columbia University’s mascot—and a tigress for Princeton alum Michelle? We might have suggested you adopt a Pilgrim (Harvard’s mascot) as well, but they tragically went extinct circa 1750.

Finally, a word on age. McCain supporters have continually harped on your relative youth. Let us call to your attention the emperor tamarin—an endangered primate which sports a massive grey beard fit for the likes of Santa Claus. Surely an animal of such elderly visage would lend a bit more of the weight of age to your first term. Male tamarins are also celebrated for their willingness to help out with childrearing, and for their playful, active lifestyles. These traits seem in keeping with your parenting philosophy. As to names, we suggest “Methusela,” after the oldest man in the Bible (he lived to 969), or, alternatively, “McCain.”

Thank you for considering our modest proposal, and best of luck running America.


Plenty Magazine

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Great idea HacK, everybody need to do thier share... including the leaders...

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