Long Eared Enemies

The events of 20 April, 1979, left America with one of the most peculiar moments in Presidential History. Jimmy Carter was vacationing in Plaines, Georgia, and took the opportunity to do some fishing. It was on this trip that Carter, in a boat, became aware of a large rabbit that had scampered from shore (apparently after being chased by some hounds or other animal) leapt into the water and began swimming towards the boat of the President. Carter said that he used his paddle to splash the rabbit and prevent it from getting into the boat. The report of the incident was met with a combination of amusement at the absurdity of it all, disbelief that a rabbit could one, swim, and two, threaten a boat, and frustration that an increasing hapless President couldn’t even take a vacation without turning it into an episode of embarrassment. Aides attempted to defend the actions of the President and described the rabbit not as a fluffy Easter-iconic character but rather a ‘hissing swamp rabbit’ with large feet and teeth. Newspapers had a field day, from headline writers who screamed – ‘Rabbit Attacks President’ to cartoonists that re-imagined the rabbit as everything from the shark from JAWS (renamed in this case – PAWS) to an agent of Carter Democratic rival, US Senator Ted Kennedy. As the illustration above indicates, the legend and the laughter has lived on into the 21st Century.