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The $60 fish dinner (07/11/2004)
By Frances Edstrom

The dog-who-must-not-be-written-about, aka The Presidential Candidate (TPC), put himself heart, soul and stomach into the celebration of this nation's independence over the Fourth of July weekend.

He is just now getting over it, with help from the vet. I am just getting over it with help from my credit card and the carpet cleaner.

TPC was so obviously suffering that I felt it would be cruel to confront him immediately about this rather uncandidately incident. But after $60 worth of medicine and plenty of rest time, I took the bull by the horns and sat down next to his pillow for a little talk.

"You know," I said, "this behavior won't exactly boost your ratings in the polls." I thought it best to approach this from a tactical slant, rather than swatting him with yesterday's newspaper.

He raised his head slightly from the pillow. "I knew you wouldn't be able to restrain yourself from using my illness to dissuade me from my run for the presidency," he said.

"Now that's not fair," I said. "That is not what I am doing. I just think that if you are running for office, you must go out of your way to act in a way that won't give offense."

"How was I to know?" he asked plaintively.

"Well, when we came running at you, yelling, and threw the rotten fish carcass into the woods " that might have been a clue that you were being unwise. But no, you ran into the woods and retrieved it, the first retrieving instinct you've exhibited in four years."

"I thought you were just trying to spoil my fun."

"Fun! You call chewing up a rotten fish fun?" I asked. "Boy, you better not let that hit the media. You'll be deader in the water than that old dogfish."

"Dogfish? I had no idea. I was sick, that's all," he said defiantly. "There's a history of sickness in the U.S. presidency, you know."

"Um," I said, "you might want to think of a different way of expressing that thought before you hit the press conference."

"You know what I mean," said TPC. "Kennedy was famous for a bad back. Johnson showed everybody his gallbladder scars. But he also held up his dogs by the ears, so what do you expect? And the first George Bush threw up his sushi."

"Oh, a history buff," I said with some sarcasm. "But there is a fundamental difference between having a bad back and a self-induced gastric bacterial attack."

"Yes, but the nation likes a celebrity with faults," he pointed out. "Jackie married Ari. Look at Betty Ford, Bill Clinton. Heck, look at O.J. How about Mary-Kate Olsen?"

"They aren't running for president, though," I pointed out. "You have to be more careful. Really, humans can forgive a human frailty, but they have a fundamental problem with pet frailty. Humans can understand lying, cheating, using foul language""

"Fowl language? Since when, except for turkey hunters?" he asked, puzzled.

"No, foul language as in bad words, swearing," I explained. "They can even understand hanky-panky in the Oval Office."

"Well, I wouldn't do that!" he said.

"No, but I bet there's a big oval rug in the Oval Office. And people would have no tolerance if it got out that the carpet cleaner had to be called because the President of the United States, you know, soiled the rug."

"You don't think that ever happened before?" he challenged.

"It depends on the definition of the word ‘soiled,'" I said. 


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