Remembering Buddy

Accident ... or murder? Conservative Web sites react to the death of the Clintons' dog.

Published January 3, 2002 4:41PM (EST)

The most active threads on the conservative bulletin board Web sites Thursday were the ones dedicated to the death of Bill and Hillary Clinton's chocolate Labrador, Buddy. The dog was struck by a car and killed near the Clintons' home in Chappaqua, N.Y. In a brief obituary, the Associated Press remembered Buddy by evoking the time the pooch "sniffed out a box of reporters' doughnuts and quickly ate three. Another time, when playing fetch with Clinton, Buddy became entangled in the ex-president's legs and knocked him down in full view of the cameras."

But don't expect the folks at the Free Republic to reminisce fondly about Buddy or send sympathy to the Clintons. As when Vince Foster died, the right wingers see a conspiracy behind Buddy's unfortunate demise.

"Buddy learned the hard lesson," writes one poster. "Don't play 'go fetch the stick' in Ft. Marcy Park with anyone named Clinton."

"In a way, this is good news for the Klintoons," writes another, "as it will no doubtedly get them some front page coverage for a while. Anything to keep them in front of the public seems to be their motto."

In a thread with dozens of postings, at least one Freeper was able to separate the pooch from politics. "Labrador retrievers are the greatest dog breed man has ever seen. Period. They are gentle, smart, fun, great with children, fierce defenders of the home, excellent hunters, and utterly loyal. Poor Buddy had owners who rarely spent time with him, and now he is dead. I care nothing for the Clintons, but I am sad at the passing of what was doubtless a darn fine dog."

Not much of that sentiment over at, where they got the ol' big Breaking News Siren out to announce Buddy's death, under the headline "ADD BUDDY TO CLINTON DEATH LIST." The story comes complete with a photo of President Bush holding his dog Barney. Beneath the photo is the caption, "Barney doesn't walk at the ranch, either."

Lucianne posters followed this lead with another well-populated thread. One poster said the death, if nothing else, was an allegory for the difference between Clinton and Bush. "Last year sometime, someone on another site posted side-by-side pics of Buddy jumping up on Bill Clinton, and Spot standing at attention while W bent over to pet him. Mention was made of the parallel between a man's self-discipline and the behavior of his dog. Alas, poor Buddy is a victim of the poor discipline he learned from his master."

But most posters followed the Freepers' lead, convinced that Buddy was "disposed with" because he no longer held any political value for the Clintons. Responding to the Clintons' statement that Buddy was a "loyal companion" who will be missed dearly, Lucianne poster "Grouper" cried foul.

"Horse sheet!" he writes. "Buddy was just another prop for photo op's, and served his purpose well. The liberal/socialist bought into the 'Clinton family values' story, but Socks & Buddy were merely appendages that served their masters political aims. After serving, they were summarily cast aside because they no longer served any purpose. (Sir Edmund) Hillary and Bubba are both narcissistic sociopaths who manipulate both people and animals for their personal gain."

Democratic sites reacted with hurt and outrage to the conservative line on Buddy's death. From Democratic Underground:

"What a rag !!! They just cannot resist against all things anti-Clinton. If those mutts that Dubya has got killed, they would insist on a moment of silence. FRICKIN' FASCISTS !!!"

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By Anthony York

Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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