Opinion: Columnists

America needs more dogs in politics, especially Labs

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Mark Tapscott,Columnists,Campaign 2012

Former Arkansas Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee did something Thursday that ought to remind us of a crucial fact about our politics and politicians. Huckabee shared on Facebook his grief and joy in losing Jet, a handsome black Labrador retriever who was his "inseparable companion and confidante for almost 15 years."

Be forewarned: If you love dogs, Huckabee's description of himself as "inconsolable" as he and his wife, Janet, held Jet in his last moments of life will likely moisten your eyes: "Jet asked for nothing except for basic necessities and a little bit of attention. For that, I enjoyed his unflinching loyalty, fidelity, and his calming presence. I loved that dog and always will. There was never a day that Jet didn't make me laugh in the almost 15 years we were together. Only on his last day with me did he make me cry."

"Jet asked for nothing except for basic necessities and a little bit of attention. For that, I enjoyed his unflinching loyalty, fidelity, and his calming presence. I loved that dog and always will." - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Claudia and I had the same experience a year ago when we had to put down our Abby, a chocolate Lab who was my "sweetheart baby-girl Labbie" for a dozen years.

Like Jet, Abby was special, from her nose (made crooked by a mysterious incident that would have ended her life at seven weeks had Claudia not reserved her for my 50th birthday) to her long, thick tail that wagged at the slightest provocation.

Abby never met another creature, human or otherwise, that she didn't love at first sight. She exulted in running, often with her hindquarters hunkered down as only Labs can. And she loved to ride in the front seat of my truck, eager to go wherever the moment might take us.

She also had a clock in her head. Otherwise, I can't explain why, after discovering Frosty Paws at about age 5, she stood by the refrigerator pawing at the door every evening at 8 expecting the night's treat.

Then at 10, she would get up from wherever she was lying and stand there impatiently waiting for us to follow her to the bedroom for the evening's repose.

I could go on about Abby, but, suffice it to say, hardly a day goes by that I don't think about her and chuckle over something she did. And sometimes shed a little tear.

So what do Abby and Jet have to do with anything in this town? After the 2008 election, Huckabee became a cable TV personality with his successful Saturday evening show on Fox News. As it happens, I usually, though not always, agree with Huckabee on the issues of the day. But when I read about his love for Jet, I was reminded that probably anybody anywhere on the political spectrum could do the same thing, given the right circumstances.

Huckabee shared a part of himself in that post that we rarely glimpse in our public figures these days. It's easy to take them for granted because politicians take predictable positions, deliver predictable speeches, cast predictable votes in Congress.

Ditto for the people in the advocacy groups, lobbying outfits and think tanks. Predictable positions, predictable speeches, predictable, predictable, predictable ...

When everything becomes predictable, we tend to forget that out of the public eye these folks have hearts and emotions, suffer setbacks, hope for victories, and laugh and cry over big things and small, just like the rest of us.

Yes, Mr. Dooley was right. Politics ain't beanbag, but wouldn't it be great if Washington's warring parties and factions could somehow recover and nurture a recognition that we all have our Jets and Abbys?

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.

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Mark Tapscott

Executive Editor
The Washington Examiner