CSotD: Crib-Sheet Cartooning

(Tim Campbell – WPWG)


(Jimmy Margulies – KFS)


(Tom Stiglich – Creators)

This Juxtaposition places the cartoonists in alphabetical order, because I have no intention of ranking them in terms of political insight and, on another day, three completely other cartoonists might have popped up in their place.

That latter point being the issue: The growing trend of cartoonists who have discovered that Joe Biden likes ice cream.


Which is apparently true, but, then again — as noted here before — so has every president for at least the past 70 years. I say “at least,” because I couldn’t find a picture of Harry Truman or FDR eating ice cream, which doesn’t prove they never did.


For instance, here’s Calvin Coolidge enjoying some ice cream, which pushes the timeline back nearly to the century mark, but doesn’t prove that it’s an unbroken string.

And Thomas Jefferson also enjoyed ice cream, but that was before photography, so we don’t have visual confirmation.

The point is that “Aha! Joe Biden eats ice cream!” is every bit as clever and insightful as “Aha! Joe Biden lives in the White House!”

When this first came up, I said “I don’t know if that makes it a conspiracy or a mass delusion or simply a case of playing follow-the-leader.”

But since it keeps coming up, I’m going with follow-the-leader, which wouldn’t matter if it were an idiosyncrasy: Ronald Reagan liked jelly beans, made a point of it and, as far as I know, was the first president to publicly declare his love of them. Cartoons linking Reagan to jelly beans were fair game and should be judged individually: Some were more creative than others, as you would expect.

The problem with follow-the-leader commentary comes, first of all, when it lacks insight.


For instance, when a swimming rabbit approached Jimmy Carter’s canoe, he did what any intelligent country boy would do: He fended it off with a paddle, on the principle that “friendly” wild animals may be rabid or otherwise diseased.

Apparently, however, the press corps was made up of city slickers more familiar with Central Park squirrels, and so a mocking legend was born.

The hoopla died down and is more of a footnote to Carter’s one-term presidency. This pack mentality, however, did real damage to Al Gore’s candidacy, when the flock determined that he had lied about “inventing the Internet,” which he had not, and about having “discovered Love Canal,” which he hadn’t said.

Similarly, the mean kids had descended on John Kerry, accepting that he had not served honorably in Vietnam, based on the falsehoods of an organized 527 group of Bush supporters.

Ditto with all the giggling over Dan Quayle, who made the fatal error of assuming the teacher who misspelled “potato” on an index card expected her students to spell it that way, and who never said most of the idiotic things credited to him.

Point being that political cartoonists should be journalists, not late-night comedians, though in recent years the late-night comedians have been behaving like journalists.

Moreso than political cartoonists who dwell upon presidential ice cream.


Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Dave Granlund)


(Drew Sheneman)


(Mike Luckovich)

By contrast, these are only the early entrants in what is likely to be a flood of cartoons about the revelations in “Peril,” the upcoming book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, and it is precisely the sort of commentary that political cartoonists should be putting forth.

There will likely be some pro-forma denials, but indications are that the book is well-sourced, and that, while we all have backsides to cover, those who did not speak out when contacted by Simon & Shuster’s fact-checkers should probably forever hold their peace.

Woodward is a bit of a gossip, and his book on Nixon’s final days was largely fluff, while “Fear,” his earlier book on the Trump White House, seemed like a recycling of stories we’d already heard from better writers.

But the General Milley business is substantive, even if — as some who have seen advance copies suggest — it needs to be seen in complete context rather than through the snippets of early reviews.

Here, we see Granlund making a joke about Trump’s love of junk food, with a suggestion of those accusations that he did very little real work, while Sheneman (love the phone!) plays upon reports that he ignored briefings and didn’t know what he was doing.

Bear in mind that “Warning,” one of the earliest books about his administration, included reports of staffers sneaking things off his desk so he wouldn’t sign them, knowing he’d forget about them soon enough. It’s hard for cartoonists to come up with anything that makes him look more out of his depth than the reports of people who worked with him.

But Luckovich capitalizes on the Toddler-in-Chief nickname that has sprung up, and, in this case, he gets a laugh from a situation that ought to scare the living bejeezus out of us.

Though, as has been so often the case over the past five years or so, the really frightening thing is how his loyalists cling to him. They’re now echoing his accusations that attempting to avoid nuclear war with China is “treason” and that Milley should be court martialed for stepping in when the President appeared to be losing his grip on reality.

Milley has not denied his actions, and, while calls for investigation are well-based, they should look into the full picture, which seems unlikely, given that Republicans have already refused to examine the January 6 insurrection.

Anybody still drawing ice cream cones at this stage doesn’t understand the job description.


Which doesn’t mean everything else is off the table, and John Darkow offers a nice spin on mandates. He’s not the first to point out other mandates that sensible, civilized people take for granted, but it’s a funny take that includes the central theme of mindlessly endangering other people.


Similarly, Paul Berge joins a chorus citing things we make kids do that are more burdensome than wearing masks, but adds substance by noting that the same crew is needlessly, ignorantly harassing transgender kids.

Cruelty being the point, also, of exposing them to a potentially lethal virus in order to score political points.


6 thoughts on “CSotD: Crib-Sheet Cartooning

  1. The part I find funny (in this day and age aka scary) is that 45ers find the book 99% FALSE…except for the Milley story.

  2. Wow, that Stiglich toon is certainly…tortured I guess.

    You’ve got a reference to a group with somewhat limited pop culture significance (Gen Xers like me would be familiar enough with Milli Vanilli enough to remember their *other* song that wasn’t “Girl You Know It’s True”, but I’d bet that the older generation might only remember them as a group involved in some sort of scandal. I know my kid has heard of them mostly as an answer to a trivia question because of the lip syncing thing but couldn’t tell you any of their songs.) And then you’ve got a punch line that doesn’t even match the rhythm of the song he’s trying to parody. And then the only visual thing to connect the two guys with Milli Vanilli is the caption and the leather jackets and…the dreadlocks? I guess? (I suppose I should count myself lucky he didn’t use brownface.)

    I’ve seen lamer jokes but…yikes.

  3. As I mentioned when you shared the Presidential ice cream eaters on Facebook, the real scandal is that Dwight Eisenhower is eating what looks like an Eskimo Pie using a plate. How our great nation ever elected a man like that to be its president is a mystery to me. I mean, a plate?!

    I take the Granlund cartoon to be a riff on the actual red button that Trump installed on the actual Resolute Desk that he could push to summon an actual Diet Coke. All things considered, it was probably the least harm a red button on that desk could have done.

  4. I’m going to assume that Harry’s discussion of eating ice cream while passing through Midway indicates that he ate it while in office, though 1957 is a bit late to be considered definitive, though it’s persuasive, combined with his earlier job at a soda shop. On to FDR!

    As for Ike sheltering his trousers while eating an ice cream treat notorious for falling apart, I say “Piffle!” Of course he would. A remnant of his years maintaining the integrity of his uniform.

    And I purposely did not comment on the content of the ice cream cartoons because their intentions were secondary to the unwarranted imagery, which I intend to continue to note whenever it is dragged out.

  5. Last week after GW Bush spoke at Shanksville on 9/11, Rev. Al Sharpton praised the speech on MSNBC and then added wryly that he probably had never praised GW Bush before. I not only felt the same way (though I have felt it for several years now ) but I now acknowledge that Dan Quayle can spell “potatoe” any damn way he pleases because he knows what C-O-N-S-T-I-T-U-T-I-O-N means and managed to tutor Mike Pence on it.

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