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CSotD: On Beyond Schadenfreude

Leading off with John Deering (Creators) today, not because it’s a brilliant cartoon but because it isn’t.

While others are either showing an unbecoming wish for revenge or a distinctly unflattering hint of hypocrisy, Deering simply depicts the country waiting for news, with the only moral value attached being a somewhat understated element of sorrow, which, I suppose, you could interpret as confusion or foreboding if you’d like.

Tim  Campbell (WashPost Syndicate) is right that a lot of people on the left side of the aisle — though hardly all — are consciously avoiding saying what’s on their minds.

As noted here yesterday, after three and a half years of loudly criticizing Trump’s Evangelicals for failing to live up to Christ’s teachings, there’s a test now of whether progressive Christians can do any better.

But good for those who have bitten their tongues, because there’s a lot to criticize and carp over, with the moral dividing line being, IMHO, whether you express anger with presidential policies or dire wishes for the man himself.

Pia Guerra (The Nib) treads the safe side of that line, I think, and she’s not the only person furious with the president for having spread the virus through bad advice and ill-conceived gatherings.

I also think, by making it a general statement rather than referring to a specific event, she’s safe from having to backtrack in light of new information, given that there seems to be confusion over, as the phrase goes, what the president knew and when he knew it.

Certainly, the Rose Garden gathering to announce his choice of Amy Coney Barrett appears to have been a major superspreader, and images of GOP bigwigs not simply unmasked, not simply in close proximity, but actually hugging each other, calls into question both his policies and their common sense.

It almost doesn’t matter, as we untangle the muddled timeline, whether the President knew he was positive when he held the event, because it was a goddam stupid thing anyway, marked with the same arrogance that caused his party to refuse to wear the masks that had been agreed to at the debate in Cleveland.

But seeing the Barrett children sitting next to an infectious First Lady, all unmasked, puts a chilling spin on things: You may be able to justify hoping how Bill Barr’s tete-a-tete with an infectious Kellyanne Conway turns out, but you’d have to be particularly vile to wish the same for those kids.

 

Still, Rod Emmerson (New Zealand Herald) is not wrong to hurl scripture back in the faces of those who quote the Bible to justify cruel, heartless and ill-conceived policies and attitudes.

On a personal level, there are tragic times you simply don’t ask, “What the hell were you thinking?”

However, it’s a perfectly appropriate question related to policies, and, while Emmerson comes extremely close to gloating over the president’s illness, putting it on a MAGA hat is an accusation about the lies that brought all of us, not just Donald and Melania Trump, to this place.

And there have been plenty of postings on social media from people who have lost loved ones to a disease that could have been better contained if it had not become an anti-science political pawn.

As well as from some who, unlike Chris Christie, did not have the influence or insurance coverage to be able to check into a hospital on a precautionary basis.

As a cause for demanding better healthcare for all Americans, their fury is not misplaced.

 

It’s a tangled web, and there’s a difference between asking for consistency and indulging in whataboutism, but I think some of the tongues that need to be bitten now are those that giggled over Hillary Clinton’s bout with the flu, snickered over Joe Biden’s speech impediment and failed to criticize Dear Leader for mocking a reporter’s disability.

Steve Breen (Creators) doesn’t make a full mea culpa — and I don’t recall how or even if he addressed those particular issues — but what works here is that, while he asks mercy for the Trumps on a personal level, he adds a plea to de-weaponize science and common sense.

It’s a reminder that the middle of the road is not a bad place after all.

 

I find it much harder to accept Gary Varvel (Creators)‘s decision to resurrect the Yellow Peril aspect of the pandemic, with a cartoon in which he not only repeats the dubious conspiracy theory of coronavirus as a manufactured bioweapon but adds the touch of Xi wearing a Biden campaign button.

It’s one thing for conservatives to suddenly remember the lyrics to Kumbaya and demand we sing along, quite another to turn their own potential tragedy into further divisive attacks on their opponents.

 

Morten Morland (London Times) offers a combination of criticism and hope, which is that the president, and the leadership he represents, has awakened to the foolishness not only of denial but — in swapping out “e pluribus unum” for “e virus bunkum” — of using that denial to divide the nation.

By depicting the Eagle as having fallen ill, he not only moves away from attacking Donald Trump the man, but sweeps in the rest of the West Wing faithful and GOP brass who have begun testing positive.

 

And then David Rowe (Financial Review) bookends the Deering piece we led with, not depicting Uncle Sam as standing watch outside the White House but as going on his way, anxiously trying to remain updated in a world that has changed.

And while Rowe is rarely who I turn to for uplifting, hopeful thoughts, there is, lurking behind what is, for him, a decidedly neutral take on things, this: Our attitude towards AIDS changed markedly when famous people like Rock Hudson and Arthur Ashe contracted the disease.

It’s depressing to think that Covid is, as he suggests, part of our new-normal, but, then again, perhaps that’s how we put behind us the toxic politics of masks and the empty promises of vaccines based not on science but on the date of the election.

Whatever the fate of Donald Trump, either the president or the man.

 

Community Comments

#1 Mary Ella
October/4/2020
@ 8:51 am

My little sister is a Korean adoptee who is living in Texas right now. She has talked about getting plenty of “no, where are you REALLY from” nonsense from strangers on a good day—when COVID first hit, she did start getting funny looks and people moving away from her on the bus. I haven’t heard of anything untoward happening with her lately but I worry—redneck idiots can’t tell Korean from Chinese on a good day, much less a recent immigrant from an American citizen who’s been here since infancy. All it’ll take is one susceptible whack job to here the right message from the right racist shock jock personality and that’ll be it.

This “Chinese virus” crap makes her less safe. That idiot in the WH is making her less safe. And Gary Varvel can p$ss up a rope for doing the same, as far as I’m concerned.

#2 Richard Marcej
October/4/2020
@ 10:26 am

Deering’s comic would have been more effective and truthful, IMO, had he depicted the White House as it currently is. Hidden behind several rows of high walls and fences.

#3 Katherine Collins
October/4/2020
@ 12:22 pm

For good or ill, I am NOT a good-hearted, painfully fair and deeply decent citizen who can drop my scorched-earth hatred of Drumpf while he is ill. No, I hope he suffers and dies. He has done so much damage in the world that he deserves no sympathy at all. Some people do not deserve forgiveness or charity, and he is certainly one. It would be fate’s own justice if he writhes in agony and drops dead. He is nothing but a scourge of humanity, an indecent and worthless parasite and bully. I hope we can be done with him very soon. People who take a deep breath, straighten their spines, and express the pious wish that he will soon recover and get back to being himself are no doubt being fine Christians (or whatever), but they are also being stupid. Would they, in WWII, have intoned that Hitler was a human being who deserved our outstretched hand of friendship? Too much random kindness does not do the world a favour.

#4 Mike Peterson
October/4/2020
@ 12:31 pm

To answer a question I assume was rhetorical, there were prominent political and military officials in Germany who proposed a coup to remove Hitler from power and restore the situation before his rise, on condition England go easy on the rest of the nation for what he had done.

Churchill gave them the cold shoulder instead of assistance and the war went on and more people died on battlefields and in the concentration camps.

Eventually, of course, Hitler died, but don’t we all?

Trump in Mar A Lago doesn’t disturb me. I’d rather focus on getting him out of Washington.

#5 Becky
October/4/2020
@ 12:49 pm

If Trump dies before the election, the prevailing opinion that I’ve gotten from various news sources is that the courts would end up deciding who is the next president. I surely don’t want that. So no matter what my base feelings are about Trump, I would rather he live and lose the election.

#6 Mary McNeil
October/4/2020
@ 1:05 pm

The plot against Hiter came from within his own “party.” Don’t think that’s gonna happen here.

#7 Lost in A**2
October/4/2020
@ 2:00 pm

I just (re)read the Twelfth, Twenty-second and Twenty-fifth Amendments. The Constitution would appear to be silent on the question of a nominee dying before the election. The question of what to do if a President-elect dies is covered.

However, it probably would not be the first time that a candidate for office died before an election. So there should be some precedent to follow.

My best guess is that Mr. Pence would become the nominee. But that is really up to the States and the Republican Party, I think.

#8 Mark Jackson
October/4/2020
@ 3:28 pm

It’s not really a question of who would “become the nominee” at this point – many votes have already been cast and in other cases it may be too late to reprint ballots. We’re in the zone of “what can the electors do and what would be the result” – not a lot of clear answers here.

I can’t summon up any sympathy for Trump – there are several hundred thousand excess Covid victims and numerous broken refugee families in line ahead of him – but neither am I pulling for him to suffer or die.

#9 gezorkin
October/4/2020
@ 5:20 pm

I have sympathy for Trump.

The exact amount of sympathy he would have for me if I contracted the virus, especially in a stupid manner as he did.

Just how much sympathy that entails is to be worked out by the reader.

#10 phil von neupert
October/4/2020
@ 7:49 pm

I’m not 100% sure of this, but Succession would make Pence the President if Trump died now. Since Pence is on the ballot, and so many ballots have already been cast, I believe he would become President automatically, if Trump won. Uncharted territory, to be sure, but the current Supreme Court would probably see it this way. I don’t see a “do over” as being an option.

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