Once the presidency was over, there was no room for Socks anymore. After years of loyal service at the White House, the black and white cat was dumped on Betty Currie, Bill Clinton’s personal secretary, who also had an embarrassing clean-up role in the saga of his relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.
Some believe the abandoned pet could now come between Hillary Clinton and her ambition to return to the White House as America’s first female president.
Clinton has been boosting her prospects in the past week with some homespun references to her gender as part of a series of events with the theme Women Changing America, during which she chatted girlfriend-to-girlfriend and mom-to-mom with female voters.
The softening of Clinton’s image seems to be working. Her chief strategist, Mark Penn, predicts that up to a quarter of Republican women will vote for her. She leads Democratic rivals in the polls by 26 points and is scooping up more donations to her war chest from Wall Street and defense contractors than any candidate from either party – an unmistakable indicator of who they think will win in 2008.
Clinton’s treatment of Socks cuts to the heart of the questions about her candidacy. Is she too cold and calculating to win the presidency? Or does it signify political invincibility by showing she is willing to deploy every weapon to get what she wants?
“In the annals of human evil, off-loading a pet is nowhere near the top of the list,” writes Caitlin Flanagan in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine. “But neither is it dead last, and it is especially galling when said pet has been deployed for years as an all-purpose character reference.”
It's worth noting that Buddy, Hillary's chocolate labrador suffered the same fate that so many former friends of the Clintons experience once they are of no further use to the Clintons.