Crossposted from The Field.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, NOVEMBER 20, 2008: George Stephanopoulos' report last week on ABC that the Obama family had secretly met with "Rex" at the Hyde Park Humane Society Kennel has touched off a firestorm of conflicting reports, rumor, gossip, innuendo, drama and questions about whether the young golden retriever could be vetted in time for Inauguration Day next January 20.
President-elect Barack Obama had, on the night of November 4, issued a vague set of promises involving "change" to his two daughters, Sasha and Malia, that they had earned a new puppy that would be coming with them to the White House. But serious questions remained as to what kind of puppy, from what region of the country, whether it would be a mutt (the president-elect's personal choice) or hold a pedigree, and its level of experience at tackling the tough White House challenges ahead...
Rex did not return phone calls from this reporter, directing us to the Transition Team, which declined to respond. But speculation swirled across Washington today about the implications of the rumors.
But shortly after attempting to contact the Rex camp, the newsroom phone lit up like a Christmas tree with unnamed sources to fill in the blanks.
"Barney, the lame duck dog of the Bush White House, leaves heavy paw prints to fill," two Democratic Party sources told Andrea Mitchell of NBC. "It is unknown whether the puppy to be chosen by the Obamas will be able to tackle the challenges of knowing which members of the White House press corps to bite, where the bones are buried in the Rose Garden, and solving the Middle East peace process."
The New York Times reported earlier this week that Malia Obama had officially offered the job to Rex. The Guardian then published a story stating that Rex had agreed to the position. But now tensions have erupted between the Rex and the Obama camps over a constant stream of leaks, and a high placed source reveals that Michelle Obama is concerned that those leaks could continue to trickle over the carpet in the Oval Office come January.
The Huffington Post has cited three sources close to Rex revealing that he is undecided about the job, "because there is so much important work yet to be done at the kennel." But high placed kennel sources note that Rex, at six weeks old, is very low on the seniority totem pole and will have to wait months before the possibility of becoming alpha-puppy in any of the cages there. Rex is also reportedly concerned that his possible role in an Obama White House will be curtailed by infighting and competition from the pitbull already chosen (said to be named "Rahm") and a lack of clarity as to whether he would be able to choose his own team of under-puppies and assistant puppies.
"Rex is worried about Obama's pledge of bipartisanship," a highly placed source told The Drudge Report. "I mean, think about it: Obama reaches out to Mitt Romney and the next thing you know Rex ends up on the roof of the family car in a cage on the way to Camp David."
The long trail left by Rex’s controversial mate (said to be named “Big Dog”) is at the center of the drama. The National Fire Hydrants Association has warned that if the 900-pound tail-wagger in the room, Big Dog, gets in the door he’ll also bring the pack he runs with (Terrier McAuliffe, Ron Bark-le, Malamute Penn, Antolian Villaraigosa, Shih Tzu Blumenthal, Collie Rangel, Elliot Schnauzer and Lahsa Davis, among others) and there will four years of yapping and stepping in it ahead for the White House’s new residents.
The speculation about Rex - will he or won't he? - has been the major topic in the media and across the blogosphere. Michelle Malkin of Hot Air called it "an affirmative action appointment" and questioned whether Rex is in fact a US citizen or a Golden Labrador. ‘If they allow a Canadian puppy onto US soil illegally, next thing you know Obama will be negotiating with terriers, and without preconditions," she told Fox News. "Furthermore, Rex should be required to learn English first." And Dick Morris told the Sean Hannity that passing up the black Labrador in the next kennel will definitively end the honeymoon between Obama and civil rights leaders.
But the editorial board at National Review has cheered the possibility that Rex will become the White House puppy, stating: "The last Democrat in the White House had a cat named Socks, clearly a wealth redistributor, and we're encouraged that the Obamas have chosen a symbol of capitalism in a dog, although we would have preferred a pig... with lipstick."
In other news, the big three automobile manufacturers went into bankruptcy today, the Dow tumbled 1500 points, and Vice President Dick Cheney signed an executive order making his fourth branch of government permanent.
But, wait, we have a breaking story, this just in: Sources close to Rex have said that the puppy has already passed the vetting process, the Big Dog is now scratching at the White House back door, and they will be leaking more important news tomorrow and for the next four years (on all of our legs) about Rex's preconditions for accepting the post. Film at 11!