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While the opening paragraph signals possible incoming political fire—“three Democrats” —the topic does not emerge again until four pages into the piece.  Instead, White reminisces about his late dachshund, Fred, who comes off as troublesome and unsavory, yet whimsically appealing:
  He was red and low-posted . . . he certainly gave the quick impression of being a dachshund.  But if you went at him with a tape measure, and forced him onto scales, the dachshund theory collapsed.  The papers that came with him were produced hurriedly and in an illicit atmosphere in a back room of the petshop. . . . So much of his life was given to shady practices, it is only fitting that his pedigree should have been . . . a forgery. (149)
His comically apt characterization of Fred—this dog lives and breathes in these pages—will color all that follows.  In 1956, during the cold war and closely following McCarthyism:
[Fred] watched steadily and managed to give the impression that he was a secret agent of the Department of Justice.  Spotting a flicker or a starling on the wing, he would turn and make a quick report.
     “I just saw an eagle go by,” he would say.  “It was carrying a baby.”
     This was not precisely a lie.  Fred was like a child in many ways, and sought always to blow things up to proportions that satisfied his imagination. . . . He was the Cecil B. deMille of dogs.  He was also a zealot, and I have just been reminded of him by a quote from one of the Democrats sharing my bed—Acheson quoting Brandeis.  “The greatest dangers to liberty,” said Mr. Brandeis, “lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”  Fred. . . . had a dossier on almost every living creature . . . (150)
Then follows two more pages of  dog—“this ignoble old vigilante. . . . held the belief that under the commonplace stone . . . lay the stuff of high adventure and the opportunity to save the nation”—so that when the topic turns to politicians, they compare easily with Fred: “these quick Democrats. . . . have been busy writing and speaking, and sniffing out the truth. . . . they converged on me by the slick device of getting into print. . . . so I make bed space for them” (150, 152, emphasis added).  Readers associate dog and political situations because of their closely drawn resemblance.  In the latter part of the piece, the actions and statements of Truman, Eisenhower, and others are compared with the dog’s behavior:
Fred was an unbeliever.  He worshiped no personal God, no Supreme Being.  He certainly did not worship me.  If he had suddenly taken to worshiping me, I think I would have felt as queer as God must have felt the other day when a minister in California . . . said, “We believe Adlai Stevenson to be Thy choice for President of the United States. Amen.” (155-56)
When “Mr. Truman” complains that “the press sold out in 1948 to ‘the special interests’” and otherwise sabotaged his candidacy, White says “this bold, implausible truth engages my fancy”—and ours, since it closely parallels the dog’s bold, implausible report that preceded it.  The dog comparison is clear in White’s charge of “pure irascibility” in Truman’s “gloomy report.”  Yet the sting of his charge seems downplayed by the indirect connection, conveyed by the dog, between politician and spurious report.  The tight resemblance between dubious dog conduct and slanted political rhetoric makes White’s point doubly explicit, even as humor softens its rhetorical impact.
     Then, perhaps anticipating an overly sensitive reader’s possible indignation that the essay had likened anyone to a dog, White puts himself in the dog’s place: “when I see the first faint shadow of orthodoxy sweep across the sky, feel the first cold whiff of its blinding fog . . . I tremble all over, as though I had just seen an eagle go by, carrying a baby” (156).  I doubt White’s points would come across half as well had he just come right out and stated them plainly—especially in such tremulous times.  One of the greatest feats in writing is to slip past readers’ defenses and deliver serious comment, made palatable, or otherwise tempered, by humor.  (See Huckleberry Finn, for instance.)    The rhetorical aspect of the personal essay is often implicit.  Personal experience is presented as allusion or metaphor to other issues or situations, and it is left to readers to make final connections, to draw their own conclusions.  Also, this allusive business appeals to me because it comes closest to mirroring real experience—which we don’t necessarily understand in abstract so much as we compare one experience with another.  The abstractions come later.
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