Getting a Presidential Pet Is a Great Distraction From Scandal

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Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty

When we think of presidential pets, we think of their cute moments and endless photo-ops on the White House lawn—but the reality is you sometimes need to acquire a pet to distract from a scandal.

So it was in the 1990s, CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Mo Rocca explains on the latest episode of The New Abnormal, when the Clintons got Buddy the dog.

“The Clintons had Socks,” Rocca tells co-host Molly Jong-Fast. “And then in the depths of the Lewinsky affair, when Clinton was in real turmoil, Dick Morris advised him to get a dog. This is totally true. And because dogs were more popular, they got a chocolate lab, Buddy. Labrador retrievers were at that point the No. 1 breed in America for 17 years running. And so the cat was given, I believe, to [Clinton personal secretary] Betty Currie. I mean the cat, it was like, ‘Exit, stage right.’”

Rocca also explains why he enjoys writing his popular podcast Mobituaries: “In general, I deal with dead people because they don’t have publicists, so they’re a lot easier to deal with.”

Molly and co-host Jesse Cannon are then joined by civil rights activist and host of Pod Save the People DeRay Mckesson, who tells them that police violence is actually getting worse, not better, despite increased public scrutiny.

“Police actually killed more people in suburban communities in almost all our communities combined,” Mckesson says, adding that the public perception of what is happening in legislative changes to policing is not reflected in the actual practices of policing. “New York City has never banned strangleholds. So when [Eric] Garner gets killed, the police immediately say, ‘We didn’t choke him.’ They’re like, ‘We strangled him.’ But that’s essentially their argument right there: ‘We did not use the “banned” technique.’”

Listen to Bonus Episodes of The New Abnormal Podcast

The conversation then turns to school reopenings amid the pandemic, with Molly and Jesse joined by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who is none too happy about New York City mayoral frontrunner Andrew Yang leading educational policy.

“I think that people are very, very intrigued by the universal basic income proposal that he’s made,” Weingarten says. “...And what Yang is raising by basically undermining the public schools at the same time as he has lifted up privatization charters and yeshivas is actually walking away from the common good and the public good of what a city needs to run.”

And then for the people’s favorite New Abnormal segment, “Fuck That Guy,” Molly aims her ire at New York Times bestselling author turned aspiring Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who is trying to up his chances of getting that seat by firing off tweets flirting with white nationalist tropes.

Listen to The New Abnormal on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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