CSotD: Friday Juxtapositions

(Kevin Kallaugher)


(Matt Wuerker – Politico)

The State of the Union speech was, indeed, a welcome relief from years past. It began on the East Coast well after the bedtime of anyone who has to be up by 4 am, but I decided to catch the first few minutes, hit record and watch the rest in the morning.

But Biden’s informal, conversational tone pulled me in and I watched the whole thing, even waiting for a long shot to make sure he was using Teleprompters. As it turns out, my instincts may have been right: He went off-script quite a bit, but not in the same vein as his predecessor, and the fact-checkers weren’t outraged.

Wuerker and Kal are right in saying it was a comforting contrast, and I’d add that there was an element of “Everything’s gonna be okay” that we needed after four years of perpetual panic, not only panic from the left in a “What’s he done now?” sense, but also from the right, who were leading their troops under the proposal that things were awful and we were continuously under attack.

Which paranoia Biden seeks to soothe, but it’s been deeply embedded and it certainly isn’t over.


As Matt Davies (AMS) points out, Biden not only doesn’t have a veto-proof Senate majority, he has barely any majority at all, and it sometimes seems like Joe Manchin, not Joe Biden, is president, assuming a bill can get to the Senate floor at all.

It’s like that part of the horror film where everyone relaxes and says “Thank god we’re safe now!”

Yeah, right. And if you think the House majority is safe, you aren’t paying attention.


(Rob Rogers – Counterpoint)


(Jeff Stahler – AMS)

As Jeff Stahler suggests, Biden packed an awful lot of ideas — promises — into that speech, and Rob Rogers isn’t the first to draw the comparison with FDR, though he depicts the parallel as only existing in Biden’s mind.

There are a lot of commentators pointing out that FDR wore glasses and had a Scottie, not German shepherds, and a few of them are making even more cogent points in refuting the comparison.

FDR was cleaning up a disaster, and he had to spend a whole lot of money to do it. Biden seems more like someone who bought a long-neglected house, facing massive repairs in order to get a certificate of habitability.

Historians tell us that FDR had good bipartisan support at the start, but ran into strong opposition as he continued his policies, so one way Biden differs is that he’s facing opposition right away.


(Gary Varvel – Creators)


(Pat Bagley)

Republicans are invariably against the tax-and-spend policies of Democrats, and they’re leaping to oppose Biden’s agenda, while even some middle-of-the-road cartoonists are pointing out that our children or grandchildren or somebody is going to have to pay for all this.

And there are, admittedly, historians who say the spending in FDRs anti-Depression measures would have eventually come home to roost if not for World War II, which is not the sort of deus ex machina any of us should wish for.

But there are historians and there are historians, and if Republicans hate tax-and-spend, they have not always minded a policy of don’t-tax-but-spend-anyway, such as we employed in the Persian Gulf Revenge Tour:

And that was written eight years ago. I haven’t done the digging to update the final total and perhaps we don’t yet know what the children of that decision will pay, since we’re only just now withdrawing them from Afghanistan.

But maybe we should keep a little history in mind while we argue over feeding, educating and providing health care for the children of the generation we sent to fight their grandparents’ war.


I was pleasantly surprised — and perhaps the GOP was less pleasantly blindsided — by a passing SOTU remark that Lee Judge (KFS) seized upon and which, if it comes to fruition, might help offset some of the costs of Biden’s agenda.

And the IRS will crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes. That’s estimated to be billions of dollars.

We’ve all known it was going on, but it’s always been in the category of things you don’t talk about.

The idea of sending IRS agents back out to audit taxes is as frightening to the plutocrats as Biden’s promise to restore the top bracket of the one-percent to where it was way back when Dick Cheney and his comical sidekick took office.

And it may require a new law to restore those tax brackets, but Biden doesn’t need Congress’s concurrence to tell the IRS to do their damn job.


Though he probably should also order them to take the stairs.


(Signe Wilkinson – AMS)

(Steve Sack)

And speaking of keeping alert, none of this optimism should suggest letting up. There are moments to celebrate, certainly, but even supportive commentators need to keep their eyes open and their pens sharp.

As Confucius noted, it is disloyal to fail to criticize, and both Wilkinson and Sack point out the potential political wedge issue at our southern border.

Mind you, as long as the GOP and their allies are willing — openly or by implication — to whip up racism and xenophobia, there is nothing short of closing down the border entirely that will please their most devoted followers.

It’s impossible to please that cohort, and morally offensive to try.

A touchier proposition is maintaining the pressure on the current administration to be open and honest about the situation, while acknowledging the progress that is being made.

One of the most difficult parts of reporting is knowing when to pull the trigger on a nascent scandal: Too early and you’re being unfair to somebody trying to address the situation, too late and you’ve let them escape culpability.

Too enthusiastically and you’ve joined the opposition.

And by the way …

Reporting is a tough job that is made no easier when both governments and their partisan supporters seek to avoid scrutiny, in their offices and on the streets.

We need to support both the professional journalists and the Darnella Fraziers.

And not just on Monday, World Press Freedom Day.

3 thoughts on “CSotD: Friday Juxtapositions

  1. Politics aside, what is even going on with that Varvel thing? I get that Biden’s most “charicaturable” feature is his forehead but how one comes up with a head shape like one of those 90’s plastic pacifier necklaces is beyond me.

  2. People like to make their opponents look stupid when they know their argument doesn’t stand up to actual scrutiny.

  3. People like to make their opponents look stupid w?h?e?n? t?h?e?y? k?n?o?w? t?h?e?i?r? a?r?g?u?m?e?n?t? d?o?e?s?n?’?t? s?t?a?n?d? u?p? t?o? a?c?t?u?a?l? s?c?r?u?t?i?n?y

    Cartoonists on both sides do it pretty shamelessly.

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