President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were the subject of rare scorn by Politico over their handling of their dogs that have repeatedly bitten multiple White House staffers.
Commander, the two-year-old German Shepherd that replaced former first dog Major over aggressive behavior, bit a whopping seven people in a four-month period, according to internal Secret Service communications obtained last week by the New York Post. An incident from November 2022 led to a Secret Service officer being sent to the hospital for treatment after being bitten in the arm and thigh.
On Friday, Politico senior editor Michael Schaffer penned a scathing piece titled “Don’t Blame the Dog. Blame Joe Biden,” calling out how the agency “assigned to take a bullet for the president wind up taking a German Shepherd’s teeth instead.”
Schaffer agreed with the sentiment from one White House staffer who wrote in an email “If it wasn’t their dog he would have already been put down – freaking clown needs a muzzle.”
“The agent may well be right,” Schaffer wrote. “Pets aren’t supposed to bite people, whether those people are guests or postal carriers or neighbors walking past the yard. Morally — and legally, too — it’s the owner’s job to ensure that this doesn’t happen… For regular folks, incidents like the ones with Major and Commander would at the very least lead to an unpleasant visit from animal control and a stern message: Get your dog under control.”
The Politico columnist suggested the media coverage towards this controversy might have been “entirely different” if it occurred in another White House.
“Consider: The most powerful family in the country appeared to sit by as their dog repeatedly menaced scores of anonymous people who work for them. The dog lives in the executive mansion, with all the custodial staff who come with it. He has access to all sorts of training regimens, and, presumably, to doors with pet-proof latches. And yet a frightened Secret Service agent had to wield a chair like a lion-tamer to protect against yet another bite,” Schaffer told readers. “If Commander had belonged to, say, Nancy Reagan, the Marie Antoinette narrative would have written itself: Look at that entitled elitist, smiling for the cameras while her dog terrorizes the help!”
“But the Bidens have spent decades establishing a reputation as middle-class normal people, not out-of-touch elites. They’re not plutocrats like the Trumps or intellectuals like the Obamas or aristocrats like the Bushes, all of whom might have been more seriously singed by a news cycle involving their ill-behaved dog attacking employees who then have to worry about the correct way to file injury paperwork,” he continued.
Schaffer made a dig at conservative “Biden foes” who’ve ran with “convoluted conspiracy-theory stuff” involving allegations of an attempted cover-up of the biting incidents within the White House, suggesting they’re missing the bigger picture and that “all of this represents some awfully insensitive behavior by the first family.”
“Having a dog that bites the staff isn’t corrupt. What it may well be is inconsiderate and entitled and irresponsible. That’s not the stuff of impeachment, but it’s kinda lousy all the same. Yet even Biden foes can’t quite paint it that way,” Schaffer wrote. “Like another surreal story of this summer — Biden’s apparent refusal to acknowledge his seventh grandchild, an out-of-wedlock daughter of Hunter Biden — it’s a case where the power of a long-established reputation (Joe Biden, family man) runs into facts suggesting the contrary… Given the history of political pets, it’s also only natural that this kind of cognitive dissonance would apply to a story about a president’s dog.”
He later added, “Commander is showing the limits of our canine politics. Loving their dog may show the Bidens’ just-folks tastes, and struggling with their dog’s behavior may even make them relatable. But having a dog that lives in a public mansion and gets to bite people again and again is evidence that they’re not really all that much like us, after all. If your public image is centered around being Middle-Class Joe, that’s not a great look.”
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