At Large : Dogged by decisions
Diesel is the most political dog I've ever owned. You may recall that Ping, the first pug we kept house with, focused his mandarin's eye on serious public policy matters and developed his own stern positions on national issues, especially war and peace. He kept his own quiet, watchful counsel. He played his cards close to his chest. You had the feeling that given his ancestry, Ping was a Republican at heart. His exalted though diminutive breed has not descended through the ages with a working-dog, I'll-make-my-own-way-in-life attitude. He had more of a loafing dog approach. He expected servants to provide for him. He came from an elitist background. He had the I'm-just-hanging-out-here-among-the-imperial-dynasty-with-the-emperor air about him, I guess you'd say. I never heard him speak kindly about dogs whose pedigrees were less bejeweled than his own. I thought for sure he must side with the rich and powerful the way the GOP does.
And I was right. For instance, he was addicted to Rin Tin Tin reruns. Apparently Rinty was a big Bush fan who was gung ho for invading Iraq, and Afghanistan, and anywhere else for that matter. Rinty said, in an interview, that when you have identified the villain, the thing to do is to run right at him and take him down.
For a long time, Rinty's views, though not his instinct for violent action, dominated Ping's development of his own position on the Iraq thing, and if he were alive today, he would be quietly disdainful of the Afghanis and the Pakistanis. And, though I am certain he would not have voted for the White House's current occupant, he would be sympathetic to the Obama surge. Ping had a hard edge to his political views. I don't want to say Cheney-like, but it's on the tip of my tongue.
Diesel, the mastiff, is very different. When he emerged from the voting stall at the Chilmark Community Center Tuesday morning, he looked like a dog who had done his duty, a dog whose sympathetic heart bursts for the broken and overburdened among us, a big yellow, blubbering softy who'd wrapped that enormous floor-defacing paw around one of Chilmark's stubby pencils and struck his mark for income redistribution. Diesel is a Democrat. He picked up a Democrat ballot, and he was unashamed. I told him he had no need to feel self-conscious about his political leanings in Chilmark. He is among the like-minded.
Diesel, who doesn't work for his keep, is a big fan of Keith Olbermann and the Maddow woman. I think he has a heart-thumping, romantic thing for her. It may be her blunt features and linebacker's hairdo. Who knows?
Diesel drools over the Daily Kos, well, daily. He searches for instructive commentary on the issues wherever he can find it. Like you and me, he wants desperately to know what celebrities, especially film and TV stars, say about these issues. He wrote to Marley to inquire what that impetuous yellow Lab thought about the fact that the $1 trillion health care overhaul legislation provided no coverage for canine companions. Hollywood Marley, too big for his dog bed I suppose, couldn't be bothered to write back, but he did send an 8 by 10 glossy, with his paw mark and the inscription, "To my fan Diesel, you big lug."
Diesel adores Spot, the federal agent mastiff in the movie. Spot was a trained government enforcer, but he wanted nothing more than to be a kid's dog. Diesel, charged with enforcing territorial boundaries at home, doesn't work a lick. He hopes one day to get a government job. He has the freeloading, mildly retarded soul of an animal who just wants to love and be loved. That leads him to worry about innocent casualties in Afghanistan, just like in Iraq. Unlike Ping, who dismissed collateral damage as merely one of the prices someone else had to pay, Diesel is not entirely comfortable with President Obama's decision to ramp up in Afghanistan.
Diesel, with his heavy body and thick coat, is frightfully alarmed at all the global warming stuff. He supports global cooling. He seems to identify with Al Gore, who is overstuffed, sleek, and puffy - Diesel can be impatient and a little didactic toward UPS men or global warming deniers, just like Al can - and, just like Al, Diesel is determined to bring temperatures down, no matter the cost to the economy. He doesn't drive, doesn't do anything at all after sundown, doesn't go jetting to Copenhagen, expanding his carbon footprint the way Al does, so increasing costs to rid the American way of life from energy derived from fossil fuels mean nothing to him. But, when Diesel looks at Al, he sees a comfortably upholstered Democrat who wants the world to cool not warm, and it speaks to him.
Diesel wouldn't tell me who he voted for in the primary, but I'm pretty sure who he's going for in January. It will be Martha Coakley. He's heard a lot about her. She gave the commencement speech at a law school graduation in May, and one of the people he loves best received a degree. Diesel heard about her speech, nicely constructed, built upon the alphabet - with which he's unfamiliar, of course. That was mildly interesting to him, I suppose, but then he heard that in college Attorney General Coakley had been a waitress in Vineyard restaurants, working to pay her way through school. Diesel really likes waitresses, and they seem to love him. They know how to feed his passions, and after a late shift, they come equipped with the scraps necessary to do just that. Plus, they call him "Hon" and say, "Aren't you a big one" and "You're nothing but a big softie." He melts.