CSotD: Just like starting over

Mike Thompson (USAT) provides a good starting point. The past four years have indeed been a time when a lot of us have begun each morning with “What’s he done now?”

Which would simply be pessimism if our news feeds hadn’t so often produced an answer that, too many times, reinforced that “crushing sense of dread.”

We’ll still check the news each morning, but out of curiosity now, not fear.


Don’t kid yourself, though: There’s still plenty of division in the country, plus, as Steve Sack (AMS) points out, there’s a lot piled up on the Resolute Desk, both in terms of things that should have already happened and things that did happen and shouldn’t have.

Biden’s first trip to his desk was encouraging, and it’s good to be back in the Paris Accords and the World Health Organization, to finally get some action on the pandemic, to see an end to religion-based travel restrictions and so forth, but there’s a lot that can’t simply be done or undone with a stroke of a pen.


Nor will it all go unchallenged. Dana Summers (Tribune) is not the only rightwing cartoonist upset that Biden is allowing those scary people from shithole countries a fair chance at a good, safe life.


My god, the man has even restored the Spanish-language portion of the White House website!

It’s as if he intended to acknowledge that there are people in this country — people BORN in this country — who didn’t learn English until they went to school, perhaps because they lived in the very large portion of this country that was speaking Spanish before the Pilgrims landed.

Or maybe he’s just a polite and decent person. After a few years, you forget what that feels like.


I think Chris Britt (Creators) goes a bit overboard here, not simply because xenophobes and white supremacists are never going to accept people who don’t look, talk and think like them, but because JLo provided one of the few poorly handled moments in the Inaugural Ceremony.

By singing only the first verse of Woody Guthrie’s angry response to Kate Smith’s cheerful, issue-dodging “God Bless America,” she turned his plea for justice into candy-coated feel-good fluff.

One of the verses she left out is particularly relevant to those challenges on Biden’s desk:

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief Office I saw my people —
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
God blessed America for me.


However, on the whole, I agree with Kevin Necessary (AMS)‘s summation of the event, which is also cheerful but points out the sea change from angry, accusatory leadership to a friendly, approachable administration.

He captures the mood of Biden’s inaugural address, which was delivered in a conversational tone that reached through the cameras into the living rooms.

There is the old journalistic bromide about “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable,” and Biden did both, though the comfortable who wanted to be afflicted had to approach the ceremony with a firm intention of being offended.

One of my favorite quotations from Confucius is “How can he be said truly to love (those he directs) who makes no demands of the objects of his love? How can he be said to be loyal (to a superior) who hesitates to criticize the object of his loyalty?”

I think Biden did a pretty good job of promising a better world while not shying away from requiring our help or from admitting there would be those who refused to be reconciled, promising not to punish them for disagreeing with his views.

There are, predictably, plenty who question his speech and his intentions. They now have the option of working towards shared goals or going out to the garden to eat worms.

As for the honest dissenters, most of us can remember a teacher or a boss who was kind and understanding but not afraid to call us on our bullshit. If we’re fair-minded, that was someone we remember with affection and respect.

Biden and Harris will surely be tested. They have set themselves up for just that.

Meanwhile, an important

Juxtaposition of the Next Four Years

(Clay Jones – Ind) 


(Phil Hands – AMS)

The firehose has been disconnected and, as Phil Hands suggests, cartoonists can relax a bit after having been pummeled with topics.

But the idea that they won’t have any ideas at all is well-disputed in the essay with which Clay Jones’ accompanies his cartoon.

He explains that there has been no lack of inspiration:

I can honestly tell you that since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign in 2015, there has not been one day when I didn’t have a subject. Sure, there were days where I struggled for the right idea … but if anything, I usually had too many subjects. Stuff was constantly being pushed aside.

However, he counters it with the loss of sales to editors who hesitated to publish criticism of Dear Leader because the faithful would write furious letters, cancel their subscriptions and even threaten violence.

But here’s another challenge: After four years of drinking from the firehose, cartoonists are going to have to remember how to differentiate between political satire and simply being a wiseass.

It’s a critical distinction for those who take pride in their trade, and it’s a distinction that, as noted here before, Jay Leno never figured out.

His Tonight Show monologues were filled with vapid, repetitive gags about Al Gore’s lies, Bob Dole’s age, Dan Quayle’s spelling and John Kerry’s phony military record.

Lazy, recycled smears from the opposition party.

The only one that was true was Dole’s age — he was 73 — but, 24 years later, he’s still alive, which is more than can be said for Jay Leno’s career.

We’re already seeing campaign smears about Biden’s physical and mental fitness finding their ways into commentary, despite clear contrary evidence.

Cartoonists who claim insight or, simply, self-respect, should dig a little deeper.

Everyone loves good satire, but nobody likes a wiseass.


Meanwhile, we’ll let Jack Ohman (WPWG) and the Beatles wrap up the inaugural:


3 thoughts on “CSotD: Just like starting over

  1. Hey, Mike, you better listen to that Jennifer Lopez medley again. There was nothing candy-coated about that line from the Pledge of Allegiance which she shouted out in Spanish. The dignitaries behind her actually appeared to squirm, and I think Woody would have been pleased.

  2. For a great version of “This Land Is Your Land” check out any rendition by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.

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