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CSotD: Putin on the Fritz

Overseas cartoonists seem to be doing a better job than the Americans of covering the changing war in Ukraine, though, while Christopher Weyant isn’t the only Yank to draw Putin in a blowed-up tank, he’s given him a facial expression of comical surprise, and he’s done the best job of converting Russia’s Z from a boast to a pratfall. Well played.

We’ve always been somewhat insular, not just in major moments like America Firsters’ willingness to watch World Wars unfold safely distant from our shores, but in more daily non-awareness. When I lived near the border, I watched CBC News because they didn’t consider World Series scores to be the Top Story of the Day.

That’s not to say American cartoonists are all getting this story wrong, or even to say they have a worse record on foreign stories than domestic issues, on which a 50/50 ratio seems typical, as seen in this gob-smacking

 

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Dana Summers — Tribune)

 

(Joe Heller)

It’s astonishing that these two cartoons dropped on the same day, and it makes you wonder if, having not told Martha’s Vineyard what was coming, maybe someone tipped off Summers, since his take is in absolute factual defiance of what happened when kidnapped Venezuelans were dropped onto the surprised but gracious and welcoming residents.

He expertly captures what DeSantis expected but absolutely nothing of the reality that transpired.

Meanwhile, Heller held his pen until reports emerged of how the migrants were lured into the plot, which facts didn’t take long to be revealed and were then available to anybody who wanted to know them.

Now, after being generously fed and sheltered on the island, the Venezuelans have been taken to a military base on the mainland better suited for housing and processing them, which the GOP is spinning into the absurd, nonsensical lie that they’ve been “deported.”

Which fits their notion of two Americas, I suppose.

One America, you’ll note, has also been welcoming Ukrainian refugees, which leads us back to today’s topic and our second

 

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Marian Kamensky — Cartoon Movement)

 

(John Deering — Creators)

 

(Martyn Turner)

Three observers — Kamensky from Austria, Deering from the US and Turner from Ireland — mark a critical issue in the Russian setbacks.

Let’s pause here to note that, while the setbacks are serious, they are not a sign that the end is near or that Ukraine is destined to win. If Russia went into a full mobilization — drafting citizens rather than emptying prisons and hiring mercenaries — they’d have plenty of muscle available. It would likely still be untrained, unmotivated and badly led, but they’ve used a human-wave strategy in the past.

They also have nuclear arms, which is a frightening prospect if you have doubts about Putin’s mental fitness, but, then, as these three cartoonists suggest, he appears to be losing the support of his underlings.

Putin has devoted a lot of effort to surrounding himself with oligarchs and gangsters, which makes less likely the kind of quiet, firm takeover that Khrushchev and Yeltsin experienced, but there have been calls for Putin to resign and, as Deering suggests, Moscow is full of windows and unfortunate accidents.

I wouldn’t count on the definitive solution Deering and Turner hint at, but Kamensky’s graphically humorous vision actually seems closest to reality: Putin is losing support, and even state-run media seems to be backing off the Official Version of Reality.

There would likely be restraints on him if he tried to introduce nuclear weapons.

 

He’s losing support in Russia, that is. As Pedro X. Molina (Counterpoint) points out, Putin still has the backing of America’s rightwing, which isn’t state-run unless you consider Murdochovia to be an actual nation.

Molina having fled Nicaragua, I tend to take his impressions of a submissive press seriously, but, even if I didn’t, I’d still find it both chilling and farcical to have Tucker Carlson, one of the most influential voices on American television, spouting totally nonsensical analysis of Ukraine to a trusting public.

It’s not just Baby Tuckoo, either. Mona Charen — with whom I often disagree on details — posted an insightful piece at the Bulwark headlined “Conservatives Are The New Useful Idiots.”

You can decide for yourself which cliché best fits this development:

“They’re saying the quiet part out loud.”
“The calls are coming from inside the house!”

 

Juxtaposition of the Classical Allusions

(Patrick Blower)

(Adolph Northen)

 

(David Rowe)

(David Low)

Blower didn’t say whom he was acknowledging, but we can assume it was Nothern, with a switch in directions and the more telling shift of Putin being largely on his own, both of which make a great deal of sense under the circumstances.

Rowe somewhat anticipates Xi’s future actions in Taiwan, but, on the more overall topic of human rights, makes much the same comparison between Xi and Putin that Low had made between Hitler and Stalin.

 

To which I’d add that, just as America Firsters like Charles Lindberg and a few overseas dupes like the Duke of Windsor felt Hitler was on the right track, George W, as Ann Telnaes recorded in 2001, declared his support for Putin, saying he found him “very straightforward and trustworthy.”

He later recanted under his well-articulated “fool me twice, won’t be fooled again” policy, while Xi hardly proved to be the pragmatic Westernizer a lot of people assumed he was when he first mounted the stage. His actions regarding Hong Kong and the Uyghurs have washed the stardust from most observers’ eyes, leaving us standing here with yet another

 

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Heng Kim Song — Cartoon Arts Int’l)

 

(Kal Kallaugher)

Matrioskas are more than a little overused in cartoons about Russia, but, as with most such things, they’re a good image in the right hands at the right moment, and this is that combination. Both Heng and Kallaugher note what Xi must surely be thinking, that his great good friend Vladimir is hardly the fellow he once was.

The war in Ukraine is far from over, but, meanwhile, the shifts in power between Moscow and Beijing may be just as big a factor in how Putin’s adventurism impacts potential shifts within the Kremlin.

And around the world.

 

Community Comments

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#1 Don Blakeslee
September/17/2022
@ 3:08 pm

Mike, it might be useful to point out to the youngsters that Weyant’s cartoon is a take on the WWII meme Kilroy was here. Same nose, same eyes. Brilliant.

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