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April 21, 2009

Your Turn: Just Bo

StaakeNewYorkerObama Dog cover.jpg

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Your read?

(illustration: Bob Staake. New Yorker cover. April 27, 2009)

  • ggb

    Love it! Innocense we have lost … take care of me … because our pets need us to care for them and love them, this makes me feel good after a lot of years of feeling REAL BAD about the White House.

  • DennisQ

    There’s no animation in the picture. The little dog is sitting alone on the vast lawn in front of the mansion. I get a sense of loneliness and isolation although it is a bright Spring day.
    It’s not a cheerful picture at all. It has even a Charles Addams feel to it. Is this Springtime in America? Stoic. Lonely. Motionless.

  • ratfood

    Bo is all alone. The Obamas are much too busy to give a pet the attention it deserves. This dog will be raised by servants and trotted out occasionally for a photo op.

  • terraformer

    I read it differently:
    A vast, clean lawn.
    A bright, white White House.
    A blue sky, with white puffy clouds.
    A cute little puppy.
    = a fresh slate, a clean House, the sky’s the limit, there is hope for the future.

  • JayDenver

    A riff on “Get off my lawn”?

  • Genevieve

    “Oh, the places you’ll go.” Literally.

  • jmac

    It’s all about the dog. I believe this is a comment on the press and our pop culture.

  • thomas

    Like everything that is scrupulously designed and magnificently clever it is ultimately self-referential. It reads “what a thoroughly arch and deliberate crowd are we at the New Yorker.”

  • jtfromBC

    I like DennisQ’s take, but I respectfully differ with ratoods opinion. The Obama parents I believe have high expectations for the girls in terms of active participation in the daily caring for “their dog”. Consequently they will learn valuable and unique lessons as a result of this involvement with BO, experiencing both the joys and the inconveniences which are a consequence of having a pet.

  • joeradish

    Bo knows nothing of the hype surrounding him, but he hit pay dirt when the Obamas chose him. What a great back yard to poop in. I think this will be a happy dog.
    I also am thinking about meteoric rise of Barack Obama. It feels like I watched his speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, and the next thing I know, he’s the president. It’s hard to process.
    The picture feels like a deep breath. After eight grueling years, the house is restored to dignity.

  • ratfood

    Click to see the larger image and zoom in on Bo. Mind you, this is only an artist’s depiction, not a real dog, however it does not appear to me to depict a happy dog. Loneliness is what I see.

  • ely

    you’re blind. the dog is smiling if you zoom in.

  • ratfood

    Your assertion while tactless is correct. I hadn’t zoomed in sufficiently close, the dog is smiling, all is right in the world. You should be very proud.

  • Ryan

    I hope terraformer (above) is really correct, but…
    I like to think the artist is making fun of right-wingers. Bo is the only animal at the White House who can’t be a socialist (or fascist, depending on what phase the moon is in).

  • Robot Eating

    Oh…let’s read negative for a second: The cute young little dog is isolated and unprotected (if smiling) and…wait for it…black. Obama as cute and ineffectual novelty?

  • lytom

    Dog is cute and has been used for public appearances of the family so citizens have something to talk about that is pleasant.
    This perception is not going to make things better in the world. I cannot see how just bombed out villagers in the far out places in Pakistan or Afghanistan can have any pleasant thought about this picture. Let see, the dogs roaming Iraq looking for food and occasionally used as targets for that matter are also images not seen in this pleasant cover. Another image of Abu Ghraib dog comes to mind… Of course, most of the inhabitants of the world will not get to see the New Yorker.

  • rob

    Bo’s is saying..
    Hey I thought I hit the motherlode with this new family. The President is too busy trying to keep this country from imploding, the First lady is busy helping him and the girls are in some place called school. Think I’ll go to the new garden and see if the tomatoes have come in.

  • JLW

    It looks to me like Bo owns the place.

  • Progresssive Mom

    Hey, we’ve all seen the White House, and its occupants, before…and its power and majesty and blah, blah, blah….BUT LOOK! It’s a cute doggie! O-o–oh, let’s all look at the doggie…
    I dunno: is the artist’s point that we’re looking at the cute doggie because it’s easier, simpler, and better for the collective blood pressure than looking at anything else in Washington?

  • Antonio

    When walking the dog, Mr. Obama would do well to disconnect from the background and just do the dog, the grass and the breeze.

  • ceenik

    I think progressivemom and a few others got it right–it’s satire on the press’s obsession with the dog. Almost everything Obama does is problematic to the press, Michelle’s clothing can be nitpicked, etc. But the lawn and the dog? Perfect–so just look at them!

  • Sirius, the Star Dog

    Two observations…
    1) Contrast the large…bright white house with black accent shrubs with the small black dog marked with
    white accents.
    2) Bo looks no better in front a green background than did McCain.
    What’s it all mean? Waiting for Mr. Wizard to return my call.

  • paulo

    I think it is a pretty perfect cartoon in 1) its innocence 2) its nostalgia for a simpler and less frenetic time even at the White House and 3) a puppie taking over the entire national conversation as epitomized by the white house centric perspective.

  • bg

    “Hi, know what? This is the people’s house! Come play with me. It is soooo much fun!!”

  • braidwood

    I don’t know what the artists intended, and I can see all your ideas being valid depending on how you look at it.
    My first reaction: there’s nothing between the dog and the white house. The empty space makes me feel nervous.
    My second reaction: THAT’S whose guarding the White House??

  • bystander

    I have not been charmed by Barack Obama, nor am I likely to be, as I wasn’t by most of his competition. But, I am perfectly open to being charmed by Bo. With Bo, WYSIWYG. That is the way of canines. And, I love ‘em for it. After the New Yorker covers of the campaigns, I’m lovin’ this one in comparison. Bo may be the most honest element in the White House.

  • Russ Nichols

    The White House in the background looks almost like a face albeit with many eyes, and with smiling teeth. It is watching over the dog protectively, as President Obama is watching over us, and over the country.

  • yg

    the kids wanted to name the dog “moose” which i thought was a great name. thought it was unfair to deny them their choice. why can’t they be allowed to name their own dog? michelle seemed to have veto power. did she name the dog BO as a dig at barack?
    non-dog people don’t really understand what it means when a breed is described at rambunctious. i would have gotten a calmer breed for a first timer. hope it isn’t more than they can handle. can’t wait to see him being trained to swim. that’s a sweet moment. my lab took to water like a duck. never even had fear, while my boxer took a lot of coaxing.

  • Nemo

    Bo says, ain’t life grand. I live here; I have all this. To all you other dogs out there – what you got?
    It’s a metaphor.

  • acm

    I see:
    All Alone in the News Cycle

  • acm

    @terraformer — I agree that everything is springy and clear, but the scale can’t be dismissed. at best, perhaps a humorous “what have I gotten into?” for the puppy…
    @BagNews — what was the title of this cover? Is it “Just Bo”?
    I like the comments that it’s about the press — definitely I don’t see loneliness her as much as formality — the perfect lawn, the regal WH backdrop: it’s like a stage. HERE HE IS! :) and the press has definitely been…um…lapping it up! :) )
    @Sirius, thanks for recalling the McCain backdrop. don’t think that’s what they had in mind, but I appreciated the giggle!
    @bystander — maybe you’re right: it’s the part of the first family we can all agree to love. hah!
    fun to mull this one, pretty open-ended…
    one last thought — the specific way the WH is drawn reminds me of decades of Doonesbury cartoons with Nixon/Reagan/pick your President muttering to his aids in dialogue bubbles. perhaps here we have blue skies and birds chirping, but the blank windows are still there…

  • thebewilderness

    Small, isolated, black dog juxtaposed with giant White House. The dog appears to have been shut out.
    Mostly, I just kept hearing, “…and your little dog too!”.

  • Megan

    Oh please let the world become as green as that cover, and the skies as clean and blue.

  • susan

    I think the dog is going to have a great family. When the press was allowed to take pictures of the pup, Michelle turned her back to the cameras and, with her girls, comforted the dog. She didn’t seem to care that the shot of her was unflattering; she was absorbed with meeting the dog’s needs, and maybe, by example, showing the kids how to take care of Bo.
    Try to picture Nancy Reagan in a similar situation. I am pretty sure her first priority would have been offering her “best” profile to the camera.
    The Obamas strike me as refreshingly unpretentious and serious about taking good care of their puppy.

  • Bernie Kasper

    My thoughts are the dog has one hell of a bathroom !!

  • FaustUS


  • Blue Shark

    …You don’t suppose a seven year-old and an eleven year-old set of sisters who have waited years to have this pet won’t find the time for it.
    …How old are you? 200?

  • faustUS


  • Vulture Breath

    The only reaction I have is AWWWWWW!! So adorable!!! I’ve liked all the Obama covers they’ve done with the exception of the one where Barack and Michelle looked like terrorists in the Oval Office which I found infuriatingly distasteful.

  • Wendy

    What about: Bo is the only person in the White House who isn’t busy? I’d rather they were all working than playing with the dog!

  • Mommybrain

    it’s lonely for a black man in the White House.

  • J Alabi

    Looking at this picture a year after the extremely high hopes that the followed the rise Pres. Obama have been battered by partisanship that would make the Founding Fathers wonder at its ferocity, I am reminded of the quote often mistakenly attributed to Harry S Truman: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

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