CSotD: Rules of engagement

Kevin Kallaugher is one of those rare cartoonists whose artistry is so fine that you might like his work even when you don’t agree with his premise. However, he’s in another too-rare category, that of the political cartoonist who does his homework rather than illustrating a myth or resorting to personal insults in place of actual commentary.

In this case, Kal is careful to distinguish between the Trump organization and Trump himself. Cy Vance Jr. definitely has the organization on the ropes, but the extent to which that will reach to the man at the top, in a criminal sense, is undetermined.

For my part, I’ll confess that I didn’t think Nixon would be held accountable for Watergate or the harassment of Daniel Ellsberg, until the tapes were found and ordered released. And I admittedly bought into the story that John Mitchell’s wife Martha was a screwball when it turned out she was a Cassandra.

But Trump without his organization is hardly Trump, though I suppose some of his wealthy loyalists might slip him some walking around money. Otherwise, he may discover that nobody knows you when you’re down and out.

His corporate piggy bank appears to be in deep trouble. People who know about high finance suggest that the charges against the company are more than slightly significant, and Kurt Eichenwald’s Twitter thread on the topic is an excellent read that, if you are anti-Trump, should make you optimistic and, if you’re a Trump fan, should bring you right down.

Point being that Kal lays out the situation without overstepping the probabilities and without resorting to personal insults.

By contrast, consider this


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Michael Ramirez – Creators)

(Lisa Benson – Creators)

(Bob Gorrell – Creators)

Here are three cartoons essentially based on personal insults which were generated by the Trump campaign for the 2020 elections.

Never mind that Trump was barely able to walk down a ramp at West Point, had to use two hands to steady a glass of water and was noted for mispronunciations and foolish off-script factual errors in his speeches, while Biden jogs regularly and has a speech impediment but seems intellectually sharp.

As with Gerald Ford, any slip becomes magnified to fit the agreed-upon narrative, in Ford’s case established by Chevy Chase, in Biden’s case, by Donald Trump.

Ramirez brings in the news story of Britney Spears’ attempt to overturn her conservatorship, while Benson revives the pussy-whipped image previously hung on Bill Clinton and many other men with intelligent wives.

Gorrell doesn’t bother with a fig leaf but simply offers a personal insult with no political significance and no factual backup.

I’ve been pondering this, and have attempted to apply a bit of whatabout, but I don’t see much of a liberal parallel, at least within the confines of mainstream, syndicated editorial cartoonists.

Certainly, Trump has often been mocked for his elaborate hairstyle and his spray-tan and, on a less documented point, rumors of incontinence that put him in Depends.

But, for the most part, these were mockeries attached to more pointed political criticism, which is to say, they were part of the caricature but were not the gist of the critique.

And, after all, when you promise on the campaign trail that you’ll be too busy to play golf and then set records for presidential tee times, and when internal reports suggest that you don’t come down to work until late in the morning, that you don’t read your briefings or pay attention to oral reports and when your Twitter feed shows you are up late at night watching Fox News, it’s hardly surprising to be branded a golf-playing slacker.

Even without rumors of Russian connections, without evidence of disclosing intelligence secrets to Russian diplomats, without advice about Clorox as an antiseptic treatment, Trump opened himself up to all sorts of political attacks, with the personal insults simply adding spice to the commentary.

And he continues to provoke things like this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Carlos Amorim – Cartoonarts Int’l)


(Pat Bagley – Cagle)

Bagley drops back in time a bit, riffing on the Chinese Communist Party by dressing everyone in Mao suits, while Amorim depicts the CCP loyalists currently mirroring Xi’s more Madison Avenue fashion sense.

Perhaps there is a message in Amorim’s implication that the Party is attempting to match Xi’s values and salute China’s growth on the world’s economic stage.

In that case, it may be more fitting to set the GOP’s worship of Trump in the time of the Cultural Revolution, when Mao was slipping past his prime and loyalty to the Chairman was largely a cult of personality.


Which reminds me of a favorite Doonesbury from 1976, a decade later, as Mao’s deterioration was no longer deniable. Which is not to suggest the CCP had stopped denying it. They’d simply begun to edge him out of the spotlight.

As noted before, if Trump is stripped of his funds, perhaps he, too, will find himself sidelined, but it’s not a foregone conclusion, as long as he can continue to pack in the supporters as he apparently did last night in Florida.

Well, as they say out West, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” and we’ll vote to determine the facts in 2022 before we confirm the legend in 2024.

Stay tuned.


In Honor of the Day

Holiday cartoons are generally more mandatory than inventive, but I like Pat Bagley (Cagle)’s take on July 4. Not only is it funny, but it’s not self-righteous and preachy, as a lot of messages about dogs and fireworks have been in this era of self-righteous preaching.

I’ll confess I’m somewhat immune, since I’ve never had a dog who was terrified of fireworks, though I did have one who didn’t like them and would tremble throughout the display. One of the dogs at the park has serious insecurities and fears, but her owner is taking her out of town this evening to avoid proximity to the fanfare, which I realize won’t shelter her from the neighborhood nitwits who can’t read a calendar.

Even then, it’s only a few days. Put on your Thundershirt and take your Doggie Downers before assisting your pooch.

Here’s the mandatory Stan Freberg bit:

4 thoughts on “CSotD: Rules of engagement

  1. My biggest worry regarding Trump is what happens when he dies.

    Think about how right wind media and facebook gossips will claim he was assassinated “by the libs”.

  2. In Ohio this week, Trump couldn’t remember the name of the first man on the moon — er, “plant,” — so QUICK! Ramirez! Benson! Gorrell! Draw us something about Biden’s senescence!

  3. Jebby, remember what they said after Elvis’ death?

    Smart career move.

    Easier to control your legacy if you’re not alive.

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