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Jedediah Purdy @JedediahSPurdy
, 9 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Short thread on norm-breaking & presidential pets.
1/ In How Democracies Die, in many ways an admirable book, Levitsky & Ziblatt inform us that Donald Trump has broken the longstanding norm of Presidential pet-keeping. (According to Wikipedia, James Polk also had no known pets.)
2/ This seems a mercy to the animals. But the Trumps have also passed up an opportunity for extravagant weirdness masked as conspicuous display. Some high points of this fine White House tradition:
3/ The alligators that both Herbert Hoover and John Quincy Adams kept.
Andrew Jackson's fighting cocks, and Calvin Coolidge's goat.
James Buchanan outdid the meme with an actual eagle,
while Andrew Johnson fed two white mice that he found in his bedroom.
4/ Benjamin Harrison also had a goat, as well as opossums called "Mr. Reciprocity" and "Mr. Protection."
Teddy Roosevelt called his garter snake "Emily Spinach" (or perhaps his children did.)
Coolidge had a raccoon, as well, and Kennedy hamsters.
5/ It wasn't until LBJ that Presidential pets got really normcore and were restricted to cats and dogs. For that matter, early Presidential dogs were a little less focus-grouped. For instance,
Sweetlips, Vulcan, and Drunkard, three of Washington's hounds,
6/ and John Adams's dog, which he called Satan.
7/ Ulysses Grant called his wartime horse Jeff Davis, and kept it at the White House, a reminder that the punchy political insult didn't begin with Twitter,
and William McKinley called his yellow-headed parrot The Washington Post.
8/ If we get through these times and nearer justice & democracy, maybe someone will write a children's book about a tea party thrown by Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection, to which Emily Spinach and Satan are both invited.
Did you know that John Adams had a dog named Satan? Seems you might have!
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