CSotD: Playing ‘What if?’

The game of “What if?” can be silly. Here, Lisa Benson plays “What if libruls didn’t want the entire trove of Jan 6 tapes released?”

Of course, there were objections to releasing the entire video record, because it could reveal security information. But the main objection from liberals was that, rather than release it to all media, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy released it only to one media outlet, which has recently been revealed to be a tool of the Republican Party.

Benson’s cartoon is dated March 9, after Tucker Carlson aired a report in which he not only cherry-picked quiet moments in the coup attempt, but then denied the obvious, violent, chaotic portions of the event that are also on the record and which most of us saw either live or in the Jan 6 Committee hearings.

So this variation of the game of “What if?” is foolish, because nobody who has been paying attention could possibly even imagine Tucker Carlson’s alternative reality.

It goes too far from the original facts to be even entertaining, much less credible.

Juxtaposition of the Day

This pair of cartoons invites a different type of speculation. They are an example of partisan cheap shots, since the president’s stumble was the result of his placing his toes but not the ball of his foot on the next step.

Pretty unexciting, and we’ve all done it.

Some sources combined it with a fall by a member of his staff two days earlier, which they said was Biden, but which wasn’t. That goes beyond the giggles Kelley and Summers offer.

I recall some merriment, too, from the left when then-President Trump barely made it down a ramp at West Point, and when he needed to hold a water glass in two hands. Cartoons from that side did not play the ageism game with Trump, but, rather, capitalized on general buffoonery, like orange makeup that didn’t extend to his jaw line.

However, the notion that “Biden is old” has been a topic among both conservatives and liberals, ignoring the fact that he’s only four years older than Donald Trump.

The “What if?” we should play in this particular case is this: “What if Mitch McConnell, who is the same age as Joe Biden, took a more dramatic fall?”

Will cartoonists flock to turn his stumble into jokes about his age and incapacity?

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Michael De Adder prompts a more mundane “What if?” by being one of several cartoonists to point out that Republicans in the House are unlikely to approve Biden’s budget proposal.

The “What if?” here being what if you looked back into history to find out how often a House with an opposition majority approved the president’s budget as written? How many examples would you find?

I’m confident enough in the answer not to bother with the research, but it would, I suspect, yield a very small number.

But, as with a stumble on the steps, and continued references to his approval ratings, it does fit in the “Biden is a failure” narrative that seems popular.

Political cartooning often includes a lot of “What if?” in deciding which examples are valid and relevant.

Let’s play a more serious ‘What if?’

Here’s a game of “What if?” by cartoonists that raises a far more grim alternative reality: What if the January 6 coup attempt had succeeded?”

The four-part comic book series, 1/6, written by Alan Jenkins and Gan Golan and illustrated by Will Rosado and others, is set in the aftermath of a successful coup in which, as depicted on the cover of Volume One, the Jan 6 mob had hanged Mike Pence and overthrown the 2020 elections.

That first volume goes on sale this month, and, at $2.99, is priced along with other floppies, though it is also being offered in digital format, either at ISSUU or Amazon Kindle.

The first issue is a scene-setter, introducing both the situation, in which the resulting dictatorship is being opposed by a rebel underground, and the major characters in that underground, starting with Xara, a parkour-leaping superhero type on a mission of both political and personal revenge.

There’s almost a nod to Q-Anon’s Comet Pizzeria fraud in that the revolutionaries have a headquarters in the basement of a diner.

And there’s a definite homage to Three Days of the Condor, when a television newsroom is massacred, except for a reporter who was in the bathroom at the fatal moment and who flees to find safety among the rebels, though he struggles to maintain his journalistic neutrality.

The conservative balance in this collection of would-be heroes is provided by a MAGA veteran who went to the Capitol with his son and is overwhelmed by the twisting of the overall narrative.

The storyline is exaggerated, but, of course, the premise begins with a successful coup, so any hyperbole beyond that is part of the “What if?” game.

And, as with all dystopian fables, it is a warning of what could be. Jenkins and Golan conceived the project as a way to wake up the quiet center to the real dangers of an autocratic government by showing the worst that could happen.

They’re hoping that at least some people will want to read the comics in a sort of book club setting, and come together to talk about the rising dangers of anti-democratic governance, using the guide provided by their sponsoring organization.

A decade ago, it might have been an activity for an AP high school class alongside readings of “Animal Farm” and “Fahrenheit 451,” but today that teacher would risk being fired.

Which is a sign of why the project matters.

I asked about their intended audience and Alan Jenkins responded:

What if they succeed?

What if they don’t?

4 thoughts on “CSotD: Playing ‘What if?’

  1. Ha ha ha clumsy ol’ Joe Biden trips ! But Mitch McConnell (who is 81 to Biden’s 80) falls at an indoor assembly of backers and gets such a concussion that he is hospitalized for a couple days. No comments from Benson or Bok or Varvel, Kelly or Summers or the rest of the Magats.

    Kudos to the guys doing the 1/6 Comix.

  2. “one media outlet, which has recently been revealed to be a tool of the Republican Party”
    ??? Recently!? What?

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