CSotD: Simply Put

Sometimes, as discussed here yesterday, you can be too smart for the room, and that doesn’t necessarily require making jokes about the Brontë Sisters.

My first response to this Prickly City (UFS) was to shrug it off, but, while it is obvious, it is also compact and concise. Granted, depicting Trump as a skunk is insulting, but he’s been a skunk in the strip for a very long time, so that, while it’s clear that Scott Stantis doesn’t admire him, it’s an established character.

The strip is a simple gag with a clear message: This isn’t how the game is played.

Carmen looks at him with a fairly blank expression, which makes her stand in for the reader. It’s not “Boy are you stupid!” or “You’re really a cheat!” but simply puzzlement.

In terms of changing minds, that approach might be more effective than one which is more combative and certainly than one which is more complex.


For instance, I’m already on Fauci’s side, so I really liked, and certainly understood, David Rowe’s cartoon. I also agree that he’s retaining his power and influence despite the forces arrayed against him.

But it’s not a mind-changer. I can’t imagine someone who suspects that the experts are wrong, and who thinks changing theories indicates dishonesty rather than further research, is going to look at this and shift sides.

It’s complicated and wonderful, but it’s a matter of preaching to the choir (which is a perfectly acceptable goal, BTW).

John Deering’s piece is insulting — which isn’t always persuasive — but silly, which takes the edge off the insult, as does the timing. We start with a straightforward statement, pause, pause, then say something ridiculous, which totally undercuts the first statement.

We’ve all heard by now that Trump didn’t actually have his pants on backwards. But it’s still out there, and Deering can still use it to signify foolishness. Trump wasn’t holding that Bible upside down, either, but try to have that argument with someone.

IMHO, the fact that we thought perhaps he had put his pants on backwards is a statement in itself, and Deering capitalizes not on what actually happened but on the fact that we thought maybe it did.


Simplicity works both ways, of course. Al Goodwyn (Creators) attacks the For The People Act not by stating why he thinks it’s a bad idea but simply by saying that it will cause, and is intended to cause, voter fraud.

As we all know, incidents of voter fraud are so rare as to be meaningless, except that we don’t all know that after all, because the GOP began loudly crying fraud before any ballots were cast.

They’ve shown no proof, but nobody showed proof that Trump held the Bible upside down, or, for that matter, that John Kerry didn’t earn his medals or that Bob Dole was too old to be president.

It doesn’t matter. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.

Note, too, that Goodwyn frames the issue not as Democrats vs. Republicans but as Democrats vs America.

You don’t have to agree with him to recognize that this is a simple, concise, persuasive piece of work.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Jeff Stahler – AMS)


(Xolo – CartoonArtsInt)

Kamala Harris traveled to Guatemala to try to reach some sort of agreement that would help stem the tide of desperate people coming to the United States, and while we haven’t heard details of whatever agreements were hammered out or initiated or hinted at, we all heard her message to the Guatemalan people that they shouldn’t risk their lives trying to get to the United States.

Again, the simple message stood out, and it didn’t go well in a lot of quarters, though it’s actually no different than what our leaders have been telling the refugees for several years.

Like Goodwyn, Stahler frames his objection not in partisan terms but in terms of the entire country. There’s nothing wrong with that: Both parties have urged refugees not to put themselves in danger. Between them, they speak for the nation.

Whether the current administration has anything going on that will change things either in Guatemala or on this end or both remains to be seen, but Mexican cartoonist Xolo suggests that nobody’s listening, and it’s difficult to argue otherwise.

Both cartoons are simple, though Stahler says the warnings go against our national traditions, while Xolo simply dismisses them as useless.

Either way, Harris takes a drubbing, and whatever she may have accomplished on her trip, this may well be what her effort is remembered for.


Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Michael de Adder)


(John Darkow – Cagle)

(Ed Hall)

The Joe Manchin issue is complex, or, at least, it should be. It appears that Manchin is catering to a pro-Trump crowd in a Red State, despite his party affiliation, and, if that’s the case, he’s certainly not the only Congresscritter more concerned with re-election than with the fate of the nation.

But he’s the swing vote, and these three cartoonists take him on in very different ways.

Michael de Adder may well be too smart for the room, citing an event from more than 80 years ago. Chamberlain, his umbrella and that proudly waved, meaningless paper were powerful symbols to our parents’ parents.

It’s not an issue of whether or not you agree with his analogy — I think it’s brilliant — but whether or not you even know WTF he’s talking about, and I’m not sure the name “Neville Chamberlain” rings a lot of bells anymore.

Darkow takes a simpler approach, suggesting that Manchin, however well-intentioned, is being trampled by the uncaring bullies, which, as in de Adder’s cartoon, paints him as naive, but does so with an analogy that is easier to translate.

But Ed Hall goes for the simplest attack, and, while it is an insult and might turn off some Manchin supporters, I’m not sure Manchin has a lot of loyal supporters outside of West Virginia.

And, in a world in which people can name the Simpsons but not the Cabinet, turning the RINO label around with a Flintstone reference may be the most productive approach.

Message to cartoonists: Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.



9 thoughts on “CSotD: Simply Put

  1. I thought de Adder’s cartoon was great, but, yeah. I suppose in a nation where all three contestants on Jeopardy fail to recognize one of the key phrases in Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, citing any historical event that took place prior to last Thursday might be going over a lot of people’s heads.

  2. Someone asked Mel Brooks’ 2000 Year Old Man who the greatest comedy team was, and he said:

    “I would have to say Wilt and Neville Chamberlain. What a hysterical team. Neville would read the Nuremberg Pact, then Wilt would stuff him through a basket.”

    (For you youngsters, Mel Brooks voiced the elephant in Toy Story 4.)

  3. I find the term “in name only” quite problematic. It implies that correct action within a party can only correlate to complete adherence to the party’s ideology. That feels like a recipe for radicalization, a feedback loop that could excise moderate thought. Liberals ought to be better than to knee-jerk condemn anyone who votes to the right of them.

  4. @Ira Faerber

    I was following you up until that last line and then you lost me. The only people that I have ever heard using the term “RINO” are republicans. Most recently it was Trump using it as an insult against Mitt Romney.

  5. @Kevin Tolman

    I was writing in reaction to Ed Hall’s DINO cartoon. I’ve also heard -INO most often in association with Republicans, so I was irked at seeing it come from my own side of the aisle.

  6. Al Goodwyn’s “Republican Sam” is perplexed, because he’s never seen a red highlighter, and in fact prefers the opaque black ones usually employed by his party.

  7. I watched “Trump with the Bible” live as it was happening, and I swear he first brandished the Bible upside down (the cross on the cover had the short part down and the long part up) but after reading this I checked all the info & videos and I was wrong. Though having to rewatch TFG handle the Bible as awkwardly as if it were liable to combust, it did sort of make the same point. Too bad there wasn’t a lightning strike.

  8. @Mary McNeil—- Agreed. When I saw it I could care less about which way that man was holding the Bible—I was more incensed to find out that he completely ignored the rector and the staff that were still inside that church trying to work. A normal human being who actually gave a rip about others would’ve at least tried to check in with the rector to see if they needed anything. He still treated a functioning church (that he probably hadn’t set foot in for the rest of his term) as an empty backdrop.

  9. @Ira & @Kevin, the term DINO goes at least as far back as the days of Sen. Sam Nunn, and maybe even Sen. Scoop Jackson.

    Before that, there were enough Suthun Demmacrats who kept the Democratic Party from attempting to declare progressivism the orthodox party policy. As Will Rogers famously said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

    A quotation that is as relevant today as it ever was.

Comments are closed.