CSotD: Ladies & Gentlemen, the Unprecedent

Pedro X. Molina (Counterpoint) offers a provocative — in the best sense of the word — response to yesterday’s arraignment.

The timing is good, with Holy Week coming up, in which Christians will be hearing once more the story of how Pontius Pilate offered the crowd a choice of which condemned prisoner to free and they shouted for Barabbas, leaving Jesus to die.

And, while he includes a harsh criticism of the Christian Right for embracing a criminal, Molina depicts them not as a slavering horde but as a cross-section of conservatives, from Q-Anon fanatics to well-dressed preachers to average Trump supporters. These are your neighbors and perhaps your relatives. And perhaps you.

Political cartoons should provoke thought and discussion, and the Barabbas story is a reminder that, while the story of Holy Week is looked back upon as an example of injustice, it is presented as a case in which — however regrettable in hindsight — the choice was made.

There is a point at which the story becomes problematic, because, while it can be read as a conflict between rural Zealots and an urban population more acclimated to the Roman occupation, it has more often been used by Anti-Semites, an accusation against the Jews for condemning Christ.

Molina does a nice job of skirting that interpretation by leaving Jesus out of it and simply focusing on the mob’s loyalty to a criminal, and their choice to ignore morality in favor of celebrity.

At the other end of the scale, Gary Varvel (Creators) makes an accusation that Trump cannot hope for a fair trial in a city where a Democratic DA places his fate in the hands of a jury also made up of Democrats.

Certainly, in the 2020 elections, Manhattan voters wiped the floor in favor of Biden, 78% to 11% for Trump.

But the entire state went 61/38 for Biden, and seeking a change of venue to offset that factor would amount to venue-shopping, not a search for equity. Trump’s attorneys would do better to conduct a competent voir dire to cast out the obviously prejudiced jurors Varvel anticipates.

When I sat on a jury, the defendant was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and we were asked if we’d ever been in a bar fight. You could ask these jurors about adultery.

Though I’m not sure you’d get a frank response from “Have any of you ever bribed a porn star or a Playboy Playmate to deny that you’d had sex with her?”

Unless you put some reverse spin on the question.

Juxtaposition of the Day

The number of counts against Donald Trump suggests a solid case, or, at least, a solid chance for bringing some of them home, but Bennett and Alcaraz seem to be counting chickens before they’re hatched.

It’s good to see the charges as proof that nobody is above the law. But, so far, we’ve only seen that nobody is above being charged, not being held to account.

Even Donald Trump never said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not be arrested for the murder. What he said is that he wouldn’t lose a single vote.

So far, he’s being proven right. We’ve had seven years of obvious lies, of admitted adultery and of generally slovenly behavior and he’s as popular as ever.

Bob Gorrell claims that the Democrats protested against prosecuting Bill Clinton for sexual misconduct, perhaps forgetting that he was only charged with having lied about adultery, and that by Congress, not a court. Similarly, the attempts to link Hillary Clinton to illegal storage of classified information fell apart for lack of evidence, and the Hunter Biden laptop issue has been a political stunt from the start.

Trump, by contrast, has been charged after a grand jury process, not a hearing by political opponents.

Is it political? It’s fair to ask if he would have been charged in a jurisdiction dominated by Republicans, such as Tennessee, where the Republican-led legislature is voting to expel members for having joined in a public protest, or Wisconsin, where Republicans are already threatening to impeach the judge elected in yesterday’s election.

It’s fair, also, to ask what laws those legislators, and that judge, broke.

Meanwhile, the whole world is watching, and Peter Brookes didn’t even have to invent an image of Trump embracing and kissing the flag, though he did, apparently, wear pants for last night’s discussion of the day’s events.

Nor did Dave Brown have to put words in the President’s mouth, though he is anticipating the grip of Justice well before the trial has begun.

Nor does it seem likely that Trump will ever apologize or express regret for his cheerful “locker room” talk on that Access Hollywood tape. A generation ago, such vulgarity would have cost him the election; today, it cost him no more votes than if he’d shot someone on Fifth Avenue.

Joel Pett offers the most clear-eyed view so far, which is that, whether or not Trump manages to escape the 34 charges of illegal campaign expenditures in New York, he’s got more serious charges presumably pending in Georgia.

People have observed that Eugene Debs campaigned for the presidency while he was serving time for having counseled young men to refuse the draft, as seen in this Clifford Berryman cartoon. However, he only received 3.4% of the vote, not enough for a single Electoral vote and thus no test for whether you could actually serve from inside a prison cell.

Note, by the way, that the man who campaigned that year from his front porch was Warren G. Harding, who, had he not had the great good luck to drop dead just as Teapot Dome was about to explode, might have been the first president indicted for, and perhaps even convicted of, a crime.

Though probably not for having paid hush money to mistresses, though he did that, too.

But at least he wasn’t a socialist.

4 thoughts on “CSotD: Ladies & Gentlemen, the Unprecedent

    1. In the movie “My Fellow Americans” ex-President Matt Douglas (James Garner) refers to “the First Penis,” but actually calls it “Blinky.”

  1. A friend of mine hails from Marion, OH, Harding’s home town. She said after 2016 was the first time she had ever heard anyone say “Where is Warren G. Harding now that we need him ?” And also when he lost the distinction of being the worst president.

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