CSotD: Peanuts Envy

Bob Gorrell accuses Democrats of a double standard when it comes to truth and accuracy. I can’t agree.

I’m not a Biden supporter, but his gaffes tend to be immaterial.

And let’s remember that it was the Amazon-owned Libtard Fake News Washington Post that examined his story of the soldier and the medal and exposed its numerous errors.

But Biden shrugged it off, admitted he’d screwed up the details and said it didn’t change the point off the story, which itself was somewhat inconsequential.

And when he was here in Keene and remarked that it was great to be in Vermont, everyone snickered and shook their heads because what the hell difference did it make?

He didn’t get out a Sharpie, draw on the map and insist that Keene is in Vermont, not New Hampshire, no matter what the fake geographers say.

If you don’t mind having a fumblemouth in the White House, vote for him. If it bothers you, don’t vote for him. (shrug)

But he doesn’t say crazy things that pull us out of carefully crafted international treaties, or lead to jackboot raids or kids in cages, or let us ignore murdered journalists and they don’t require …


… as Steve Benson puts it, that simple, obvious facts be altered for political purposes and that the fact-finders we rely on for safety and economic stability be dragooned into covering up the nonsensical things that fall out of Dear Leader’s mouth.

This latest Orwellian transformation of truth reminds me of a conversation I had with a State Trooper about a kid they had brought in for questioning in some burglaries:

“If he tells you it’s raining, you’d better look out the window.”

He was kidding. It was a metaphor. The kid may not have been the most honest person on the planet, but he wasn’t pathological enough to lie about the weather.

Much less to simply get it wrong and then have a prolonged hissy fit rather than shrug it off and move on.

Here’s the thing: Joe Biden has a well-established reputation for foolish, inconsequential verbal gaffes.

He does not have a well-established reputation for not listening during briefings, for not studying the materials his staff prepares for him, for re-tweeting items from toxic white supremacist sites, for firing staff members who correct him when he’s wrong, for believing and passing along idiotic conspiracy theories and for spending way too much time watching television instead of doing his damn job.

So there’s that.


Juxtaposition of the Facts


(Prickly City)

Sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always best to get it right.

And right now Dan Thompson is banging his head on his drawingboard because he meant to draw Doc from the Seven Dwarves but — as the comments on his strip quickly pointed out — drew Smee from Peter Pan.

Meanwhile, the comments in Prickly City discuss the fact that Giant Auks, which once strolled the beach in Greenland, are extinct but could be distinguished from penguins by their heavier bills and the white spot on their faces.

Now, given all the foolish cartoonists who keep putting penguins at the North Pole, if I were Scott Stantis, I’d have featured a walrus. Maybe he was testing his readers. Maybe he inked over something to give it a broader bill and a white spot.

But an auk makes a good symbol of Greenland and it doesn’t change the gag and, in both cases, I note that the sun appears to have risen this morning anyway.


Which brings us to this piece from the Nib, in which Charles Schulz is raked over the coals for failing to halt the spread of measles.

The piece criticizes him for the lack of impact a series of strips he did in 1967 — which they incorrectly say ran a year later — had on vaccination rates among poor people and minorities.

The dating error wouldn’t matter, except that they make a vague point about Franklin, the strip’s ground-breaking black character, not appearing until six months later, when he didn’t appear until a full year and a half after the sequence.

Getting that right might have strengthened their point, but they were on thin ice to start with, since they argue that, while kids read the strip, poor kids didn’t have access to pediatricians.

True, but I wonder how many middleclass kids brought the paper to their parents and said, “I want to do this.”

By the way, here’s the sequence of strips we’re talking about:

I loved Peanuts when I was a kid, though I was a senior in high school when this arc ran. But I learned the term “ophthalmologist” when I was much younger and Linus got glasses.

However, I don’t know when I got my measles vaccination but it wasn’t because I asked my parents for it.


And here’s part of the problem. Comic strips were fun but, much as they reflected popular culture and helped boost sales of one paper over its cross-town rival, they were not powerful drivers of social change.

They simply weren’t a terribly bully pulpit, and this extravagant claim at best needed footnotes.

So, is this odd attack on Schulz simply a Biden gaffe or an outrageous Trump lie?

As an off-the-cuff theory in a sophomore dormitory at midnight, it would be a Biden gaffe.

And the Peanuts story arc might have been one good example —  among several others — of how mainstream attempts to promote vaccination didn’t reach into poor neighborhoods.

But as the centerpiece, first of all, it required much more rigorous research and verification, and, absent that, felt more like clickbait than a serious talking point.

Am I just a grumpy old Boomer?

No. I’m being a responsible journalist and I won’t insult young practitioners of the craft by patting them on the head and excusing sloppy work.

Some errors matter, some are, in the long run, inconsequential.

But responsibility and personal pride demand you get it right.

Truth matters, and even moreso in Trump World.


4 thoughts on “CSotD: Peanuts Envy

  1. Mike: it’s most probable that you did not receive a measles vaccine. I’m about ten years younger than you. After my grandson was born last year, I checked my “baby book” to see what my mom might have recorded about childhood vaccinations. Turned out, I had the measles in April 1961 when I was about 20 months old.

    “In 1963, John Enders and colleagues transformed their Edmonston-B strain of measles virus into a vaccine and licensed it in the United States.”


  2. Roosevelt’s mention of ‘bully pulpit’ used slang of the day. He meant that the Presidency is a ‘swell’ pulpit, couldn’t be beat, was the cat’s meow for advocacy, was sweet. More recently, it was the bomb.
    I agree that with Trump in office, the accepted concept of ‘bully’ pulpit is appropriate.

  3. Well, bully for him.

    I suspect the etymological change came from Big Man On Campus types who, though often hailed as “great guys,” tended to also be overbearing jerks.

    Which is to say, I agree with your observation. And, BTW, I’m not sure anyone since his cousin Franklin has effectively used that pulpit to inspire rather than to harangue.

  4. A teensy bit excessive, I think, to call the Nib piece an “attack on Schulz” that “rakes (him) over the coals.” The article makes the plausible point that Schulz’s message didn’t reach everyone it could have because not everyone reads the comics or has the means to do something about whatever call to action there is, but what’s Schulz supposed to do?
    Was it his job to transport people to vaccines, or vaccines to people, and see to it the vaccines were administered?
    He used his “bully (in the Rooseveltian sense) pulpit” to spread the message that much farther, planting the idea of getting a measles shot in the minds of readers young and old (comics aren’t just for the kiddies, you see …), including a few that might not have thought about it.
    The Nib pretty much observes that inherent “shortcoming” (If you want to call it that) — that Schulz was a comic strip artist and not a vaccine van driver.
    I’ve sometimes thought the Nib over the top, but not this time … at least not in the way the TDC author seems to mean.

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