Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Bruce Wilson Headshot

Dare To Discipline: How Obama-Critic Whipped The Mini Weiner Dog Rebellion

Posted: Updated:

Lately there's been a bit of a flap over Dr. James Dobson's public declaration that Barack Obama has "fruitcake ideas" about the US Constitution and church-state separation. Although he has no degree in Constitutional Law, in choosing to go head to head with Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, who taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago for twelve years, Dr. Dobson is at less of a disadvantage than it might seem at first. No intellectual lightweight, he is a pioneer and titan in the field of child-rearing. Dobson's blockbuster books "The Strong Willed Child", which sold over 1.75 million copies and "Dare To Discipline", which sold a whopping 3.5 million copies, have informed an entire generation of parents and empowered them with Dr. Dobson's core insight that, from a disciplinary standpoint, children are like dogs. But, Dobson's revolutionary "child-whisperer" child-rearing methods did not arise from floofy navel gazing. As described by Dr. Dobson, in "Dare To Discipline", his new theory was born in praxis and struggle, out of hard-won insights gained duiring an epic battle between Dobson and his 12 pound miniature Dachshund "Siggie" - to force the little Weiner Dog off its napping spot on a fuzzy toilet seat cover. For Dobson, the incident gave rise to a core insight into the need for parents, and society, to forcefully combat, overcome and whip those satanic urges which drive all rebellions and rebelliousness - against parental authority, against society, against President George W. Bush.

In "The Strong Willed Child" the nationally celebrated child-rearing expert and Christian family values champion James Dobson describes the titanic clash, between man and vicious, snarling miniature weiner dog - which led to Dobson's breathtaking, radical insight into core, basic behavioral similarities between human children and Dachshunds or, more generally, dogs:

"That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt."

From that description would seem that in a certain stage of the struggle the Dachshund had wrested control of the belt, to whip Dobson, but that is almost certainly a stylistic flourish on Dr. Dobson's part. The high pitch of the drama suggests the saga might be grist for a musical, even an opera, especially for the added complexity of the almost Oedipal cast of the narrative - which seems to concern what was, at base, a sexual and dominance struggle:

"The greatest confrontation occurred a few years ago when I had been in Miami for a three-day conference. I returned to observe that Siggie had become boss of the house while I was gone. But I didn't realize until later that evening just how strongly he felt about his new position as Captain."

Who knows what that dog had been up to while Dobson was away ? To the those inclined toward such crude perspectives (which is to say almost anyone, at least on a subconscious level) Dachshunds are in effect mobile phallic symbols, on legs. Dr. James Dobson was thus compelled, forced to reassert his Biblical and God-given authority over wife and family, and over his suggestively elongated mini weiner dog:

"At eleven o'clock that night, I told Siggie to go get into his bed, which is a permanent enclosure in the family room [sounds like a doghouse]. For six years I had given him that order at the end of each day, and for six years Siggie had obeyed.

On this occasion, however, he refused to budge. You see, he was in the bathroom, seated comfortably on the furry lid of the toilet seat. That is his favorite spot in the house, because it allows him to bask in the warmth of a nearby electric heater. . ."

As any colonial power with staying power well knows, rebellions are to be put down with absolute, prejudicial brutality. In the movie "Burn!", about a Nineteenth-Century Caribbean Island slave revolt, British Colonial authorities were too timid to put down the rebellion and had to call in Marlin Brando to care of the mess. Which he did. But, by the time of the 1920's British occupation of Iraq, the British had learned better and showed the Iraqis "tough love" - by bombing and strafing Iraqi villages for non-payment of taxes. Had the British lacked such disciplinary resolve it's hard to even imagine what a mess Iraq might be in today.

As did Marlin Brando, Dr. James Dobson, faced with a similarly dire, even apocalyptic rebellion, rose to the challenge. Dobson, now head of the over $200 million dollar a year nonprofit behemoth, Focus On The Family, wisely made a tactical decision to integrate a force-multiplier (a belt that is) into his counterinsurgency battle plan:

"When I told Sigmund to leave his warm seat and go to bed, he flattened his ears and slowly turned his head toward me. He deliberately braced himself by placing one paw on the edge of the furry lid, then hunched his shoulders, raised his lips to reveal the molars on both sides, and uttered his most threatening growl. That was Siggie's way of saying. "Get lost!"

"I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me 'reason' with Mr. Freud."

James Dobson seems to have been concerned that his rebellious miniature Dachshund "Siggie" (short for "Sigmund Freud") might usurp Dobson's spot as head of the family and the household, and the sexual danger and threat of mini weiner dogs is legendary - as is their tenacity in battle. A relative of mine has a miniature wire-haired miniature Dachshund that obsessively fetches rocks, even fairly big ones, thrown into the pond in her backyard. I've seen firsthand how single mindedly tenacious and fierce these wee Dachshunds truly are. One wouldn't want to be on their bad side or allow them to get the upper hand - ever.

It was man against brute beast, touch and go:

"What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!"

Dobson chose to showcase this gripping personal account in his book of child rearing advice, on how to cope with "strong-willed" children, and the saga fits perfectly - as many relevant experts, enlightened by Dobson's bold insights, have come to appreciate, Dachshunds are remarkably like human children. Both are bilaterally symmetrical chordates, mammals with four limbs and relatively large brains, both are more or less omnivorous, both are highly social and travel in packs, both engage in dominance struggles. Both respond to operant conditioning. The similarities would seem endless.

As a recent episode of "South Park" has amply demonstrated, dog training techniques work marvelously well on troublesome children and James Dobson was an early pioneer and leader of this revolutionary, breakthrough school of child rearing:

"But this is not a book about the discipline of dogs; there is an important moral to my story that is highly relevant to the world of children. JUST AS SURELY AS A DOG WILL OCCASIONALLY CHALLENGE THE AUTHORITY OF HIS LEADERS, SO WILL A LITTLE CHILD -- ONLY MORE SO." (emphasis Dobson's)"

Woof. Woof woof.

There's a religious, metaphysical component to this as well, and it is that textual, narrative richness which could lend the story to the musical/opera format - moving past the mere mechanics of human/Dachshund mortal combat and also the realm of canine/toddler psychology, Dobson brings the discussion into the realm of deep metaphysical, theological inquiry:

"Perhaps this tendency toward self-will is the essence of 'original sin' which has infiltrated the human family. It certainly explains why I place such stress on the proper response to willful defiance during childhood, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of personal disaster."

As with the invention of the wheel, or fire, or the principles of geometry and basic math, many revolutionary human breakthrough discoveries seem transparently obvious in retrospect such that all look back, in astonishment, with the same question: "Why didn't I think of that ?"

But, no one had grasped it before James Dobson and the insight may well place Dr. Dobson in the pantheon of greats such as Einstein, Fermi, Leonardo, Tesla, Madam Curie and other such pioneers of human inquiry. Dobson's hypothesis, ventured in "The Strong Willed Child", places blame for human conflict, wars and strife, historical evils of all sorts, stemming from the breakdown of the core human social institution, the family, squarely where it truly belongs: on toddlers.

Dr. James Dobson's epiphany, his satori was the realization that because the family is the most basic, irreducible element and building block of the human social order, the very genesis of evil in human family life, the original sin, the first taint, has to therefore originate in the blasphemous refusal of very young children to toe the line and obey parental authority. That is why it is of such paramount importance to beat such inclinations out of children - with each and every mother and father who choose to mollycoddle their children rather than practice the discipline of tough love, the very social order and fate of the world as we know it are put at risk.

For James Dobson and a growing cadre of supporters armed with Dobson's breakthrough theory and insight, the only sane approach parents can take towards childhood rebellion is to beat it out of them. Otherwise chaos, socialism and Satan will prevail.

In truth it's the moral duty, the obligation of Christian parents who take their faith seriously, unlike those alleged Christians who merely mumble the tenets of their faith during their sporadic Sunday forays to degenerate liberal church services rife with pagan ritual and coded Satanic-sexual symbolism, to break the will of their children to resist and rebel much like torturers break the wills of prisoners to resist and rebel - in the end, it's for their own, and society's, best interest. The enterprise is, in a very real sense, the project of chasing out the devil, demonic spirits that otherwise can infest children and lead them into ruin, into future lives corrupted with iniquity and sin, drug and alcohol abuse, gayness and liberal political opinions, feminazi bigotry and eco-terrorism, into apartments in New York or San Fransisco and the wearing of sexually suggestive or sexually ambiguous clothing, into the consumption of tofu and tempeh rather than proper sirloin, proper bacon, into seductive lifestyles leading inexorably to eternal torment in the flaming pits of Hell.

That cosmic battle of Good versus Evil, writ small, is one in which one party alone, you the parents, must come out on top; so give no quarter; crush their resistance! - if you don't they'll take over and through them Satan will rule. The family, society even, will break down and devolve into a Hobbesian war of all against all. Chaos will rule. Cannibalism and Buddhism will flourish, as will gay marriage. Teletubbies will proliferate on Television and gays in Black Helicopters will swoop down to seize our guns, take our property, sodomize us and teach our women and wives to talk back to our authority. . .

So, Dr. James Dobson had to conquer the little weiner dog. Thus was The Family, and perhaps even Christianity itself, saved on that day.

Register To Vote