Yellow Dogs, Blue Dogs and Politics

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Tue Jul 31 21:24:26 UTC 2001

Maybe I missed "Blue Dog Democrats" in the archives, but about three years
ago, we talked about "Yellow Dog Democrats" on this list.

Recently, Dan Hartung at the weblog Lake Effect posted this:

Politics, advertising... it seems to be a trend. Truth is, they're all

The New Orleans folk artist George Rodrigue--professionally trained, but
influenced strongly by his Cajun roots--began
painting blue images of his dog Tiffany, and by the mid-1980s they were a
Big Easy hit (with some international recognition).

Then came the Blue Dog
Democrats (a group of moderates who frequently vote with the Republicans).
The two founding Congressmen were both Louisianans, and both had Rodrigue
Blue Dog paintings in their offices--hence the name. (Gary Condit, now
infamous, posed with future girlfriend Chandra Levy,2933,29029,00.html before his massive Blue
Dog painting). Today, the official logo of the group is a different blue
dog, though.

There's even a Blue Dog painting in the Friends coffeeshop; and Rodrigue did
an obligatory Absolut ad.

The real big-time came when Xerox called. They've used the image of
Tiffany to hype their color printers for the last year or so.

The oddest part of this? The model dog, Tiffany, is dead. In fact, she was
dead when he painted her in blue for the first time!

Further correspondence with Dan promted even more information about Blue Dog

On 31 Jul 01, at 12:55, Grant Barrett wrote:
> I don't doubt you're right about the relationship between all the
> different blue dogs, but as for the Blue Dog Democrats, there's a
> precedent in the term "yellow dog democrat." A bit more information
> can be found here

Yup, I know all about them, I just felt the entry was complicated enough as
it is. But ask Billy Tauzin (founder of the Blue Dogs). That's where they
came up with the name. Really!

I'm sure the term "yellow dog" meant something in this process. Mainly I
think they wanted a term that was better than "boll weevils" ... what they
(similar ones, anyway) were called in the 80s when they "spoiled" the Dem
majority in Congress by siding with the GOP.


Plante: "Could you please explain the origin and meaning of 'yellow dog' and
'blue dog' Democrats?" asks Jay Dagostari.

Garin: The term "Yellow Dog Democrat" was used by Southern Democrats who
claimed they would rather vote for a yellow dog than vote for a Republican.

According to Congressman John Tanner of Tennessee, Blue Dogs are really
"yellow dogs that have been choked by extremes in both political parties to
the point that they have turned blue." The Blue Dog Coalition is a group of
moderate-to-conservative Democrats in Congress that regularly
break with their caucus on fiscal and social issues. In 1994, they began
meeting in the offices of then-Democrats Billy Tauzin and Jimmy Hayes. Both
were from Louisiana and had offices decorated with artwork by George
Rodrigue, a Cajun known for his paintings of blue dogs.,1597,203511-412,00.shtml

I think the painting came first and the "choked by extremes" statement is a
ret-con, myself ...

[second email message]

This article is a little more agnostic about the origin:

I'd be suspicious myself, but since the acknowledged founders
were from Louisiana, I think the Rodrigue explanation has merit. It's
not a new story, either.

[third email message]

I would say the citations given then gave the impression the term
had died out. It's hard to tell, but my feeling is that the Blue Dogs
have given the "yellow dog" term a new lease on life.

I would also note that while it's generally cited as a Southern term,
it's most often used in reference to Texas.



Grant Barrett
gbarrett at
78 South Third Street Apt. No. 1
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718 384 8271
Mobile 646 286 2260

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