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Nate Beeler talks about his Golden Spike

This year’s Golden Spike Award went to Nate Beeler, editorial cartoonist for the Washington Examiner. The Golden Spike is an award given out during the annual AAEC convention to recognize a worthy cartoon that was rejected by an otherwise timid editor. Over on Daryl Cagle’s blog, he’s posted a copy of the toon – which this year was a sketch rather than a fully drawn cartoon. Along with the toon is Nate’s commentary about the killed editorial cartoon.

When I approached my editor with the “Artificial deadlines” cartoon idea, the Walter Reed scandal was raging and troop surge funding was in fierce contention. I was struck by the Catch-22 in which America was caught: Setting deadlines for withdrawal “emboldens” the insurgents, but rising U.S. casualties do, as well. It’s a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” and I wanted to make people think about both sides of the debate as they formed their own opinions.

My editor explained he wouldn’t run the cartoon because he saw it as insensitively using wounded veterans to make a political point. I didn’t agree, of course, and after some discussion we still couldn’t reconcile our positions. Typically, I submit multiple sketches — pointing out my favorites — and we’ll come to an agreement on which cartoon I’ll draw for the next day. When we don’t see eye to eye on my top picks, I’ll go to one of the other sketches. It doesn’t happen often, but that was one of those days.

Daryl also has video of Nate talking about his award.

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