My Only Cabinet Meeting
By Patrick F. Cannon
Although not much shocks me at my age, I confess I was taken aback a bit when I got the call from the White House. In retrospect, I now see they had little choice, since President Trump always expects to have the “best” of everything.
Let me explain. It seems he was watching a feature on the hated CNN called “The Pets of the Presidents.” He was particularly struck by scenes of former occupants being followed to and from their Marine helicopters by their tail-wagging canines. Even Franklin Roosevelt, who didn’t have a helicopter and didn’t do much walking, was often photographed with his Scotty Fala. It occurred to Trump that he didn’t have any kind of pet, much less a dog trotting adoringly along behind him.
He thus ordered his loyal staff to find him the “greatest” dog in the world. Their researches uncovered the Border Collie as the smartest of all dogs, but noted that these fine dogs were given to running instead of trotting and were almighty shedders. Next on the list was the noble Poodle, which not only didn’t shed, but was content to run or trot as the occasion demanded. After several staff meetings, the decision was made and Reince Priebus picked up his phone.
(Let me interject here that I think the claim that the Border collie is the smartest breed is dubious at best. Who indeed is smarter: the dog that spends his or her days chasing around after smelly sheep in all weathers, or the dog that whiles away the day either playing or lounging on a soft bed?)
My bona fides as a pet expert are widely known, but let me remind you. I have owned eight dogs, four of them poodles. In addition, little fishies have swum in bubbling aquariums in my house from time to time. Rodents I have owned include hamsters, rats and rabbits. Mice have also lived with me, but not by my choice. I recall owning three birds, one of which, a small and colorful parrot, had a squawk of a volume that belied its size.
Obviously, my fame had reached the White House, thus the phone call. Priebus sounded desperate when I answered the phone. “The boss wants a poodle and he wants it yesterday. Can you help? We’ll pay any price!”
“Calm down,” says I. “Give me few hours and I’ll get back to you.”
I immediately spread my poodle net wide, and soon located a rescue standard poodle who seemed to fit the bill. When I saw him, he was a bit shaggy, but nothing a quick $100 grooming wouldn’t fix. Late the next day, I was on the road to our nation’s capital, the now spiffy black dog happily beside me.
When I drove up to the White House gate, I was rushed through security, and soon found myself in the chief of staff’s office. “Thank God you’re here,” says the sweating Priebus, “how long to you think it’ll take to train him?”
“He’s pretty well trained already. Will the president be available to get the dog used to trailing along behind him?”
“No, but we have a double with a wig. By the way, we’re going to call him Tower! Get it? Trump’s Tower? Ha Ha! Anyway, the president doesn’t much like dogs, but the White House dogs have always been taken care of by the permanent staff anyway, and only show up for photo ops. Believe me, this pooch will be living high on the hog.”
It only took a few days, and Tower got his first gig when Trump took the Marine helicopter for a weekend at one of his golf resorts. Tower dutifully tagged along behind him. Before boarding, Trump turned around and gave the dog a little pat. On cue, Tower wagged his tail. Needless to say, the president’s new dog made all the evening news shows, even the BBC!
Trump was delighted and came up with a brilliant idea. Vice President Pence was out of the country visiting the administration’s favorite strongman, Philippine president Duterte, so to double down on the great press coverage, the poodle would take Pence’s place next to the president at the cabinet meeting. Just in case Tower did something goofy, I was directed to attend and given a chair at the back of the room.
In addition to President Trump and his faithful pooch, at the table were the sixteen members of the cabinet, and a couple of staff members, including Priebus and the new press secretary, Otto Nowlbetter. After the photo op was completed and the purveyors of “fake” news were gone – and beginning by tradition with the secretary of state — each member of the cabinet in turn extolled the great things they were able to accomplish due entirely to the wisdom of the great boss.
It took quite a long time, since each seemed to want to out do the others in the fulsome praise department. Finally, the chief of staff was about to out do all the others, when he noticed that Nowlbetter seemed to be staring straight ahead, oblivious to what was happening. Priebus waved his hand in front of the press secretary’s face, but got no reaction. He then nudged him on the back, whereupon Otto pitched forward on his face. “Jesus,” says Priebus, “I think he’s dead!”
There was a corporate gasp, and then the president yelled “dead, what could he have died of?
“Wait,” says the loyal chief of staff, “he wrote something on his note pad.”
“What’s it say, for Christ’s sake,” a frantic president responds.
“It’s just one word, let’s see…it looks like s…h…a…m…e.”
Copyright 2017, Patrick F. Cannon