CSotD: The Good, the Bad and the Cynical

When I saw that Jimmy Buffett had died, my first reaction was “Well, that’s a shame,” because he was a nice guy who made pleasant music. But my second reaction was “Here we go” and I have to say that the flood of Jimmy Buffett obituary cartoons has far outflowed my expectations.

I don’t much like obituary cartoons to begin with but editors love them and readers seem to expect them and it makes me feel even worse when someone nice dies and I can’t help but have cynical feelings about the easy sales that obituary cartoons represent for cartoonists.

So here’s a Jimmy Buffett obituary cartoon and I chose it to represent the entire group because, in the essay accompanying it, Clay Jones says he hates obituary cartoons and didn’t much like Jimmy Buffett’s music.

And yet here it is.

Good. I’d hate to be the most cynical person in the room.

As long as we’re talking about cynicism, Tom Stiglich (Creators) attacks President Biden for commemorating the deaths on 9/11 at a military base in Alaska as he returns from attending a multinational summit in Asia. Vice-President Harris will attend the solemnities in New York City and the First Lady will represent the president at the Pentagon.

I don’t know how many presidents have flown to Pearl Harbor every December 7 or to Oklahoma City on April 19, nor do I know if Stiglich also did a cartoon when President Trump decided not to go to a World War I commemoration with other world leaders because it was sprinkling.

Fox News was honest enough to note that both George W Bush and Barack Obama had observed the occasion at the White House, though they didn’t point out that this puts Biden among three of the four presidents since the attacks not to make the obligatory pilgrimage each year.

But then they were cynical enough to describe his overseas trip as a meeting with Vietnamese leaders, which is true, but leaves out the fact that Hanoi is a stopover and that the main reason for the trip is to attend the G20 in India, along with a who’s who of heads of state and world leaders.

All of which commentary suits a presidential campaign which, so far, has been about personalities and performative gestures rather than about actual policies and the serious job of being president.

Pardon my cynicism.

And wotthehell, as long as I’m in this mood, here’s a cartoon by Lisa Benson (Counterpoint) in which she salutes the rightwing extremist group, Moms for Liberty, who insist that they represent a majority of parents and not just the loud ones who want to burn books, limit teaching about race and gender issues and install their brand of religion in public classrooms.

She’s got a point, and here’s my suggestion: We should set up a system of public schools which are free for children to attend and where parents and other community members can express their wishes by voting for school board members, attending board meetings and voting to approve budgets.

And those who disagree with the majority in this democracy of ours would have the right to either send their children to private schools that meet their standards, or to home school them.

That’s how parental rights work in a free society.

I don’t know if this Marian Kamensky (Cartoon Movement) cartoon is an example of cynicism or hope. I suppose it depends on whether you see it as a depiction of the moment or of a movement.

The moment is indeed cynical. For those who missed it, Spain won the Women’s World Cup, but what should have been a national celebration of this first-ever triumph became a scandal when, in the celebration after the final game, the Spanish coach grabbed a player by putting both hands on her head and then forcibly kissed her on the mouth.

The good thing is that the response, not just from the women on the team but nearly universal, was shock, outrage and fury. He was suspended by FIFA pending an investigation, but, perhaps more to the point, was roundly condemned by players and coaches on both men’s and women’s teams throughout the futbol world.

Better still, the women on the Spanish team have declared that they will not play for Spain again until he is gone and Spanish authorities are opening a move to get rid of him.

The bad thing is that, as Kamensky depicts it, he continues to hang on, despite the efforts of his entire team and, by extension, women athletes throughout the world.

Still, it’s hard to imagine him holding on forever, despite his protestations of being treated unfairly. And if it touches off a wider response against machismo in Spain and elsewhere, so much the better.

I’m having trouble being cynical about this one.

Meanwhile, on a positive note

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton might be a minor figure nationally, were Texas not leading the way in promoting the new approach to American government. So while his impeachment trial, about to kick off, has been a topic of political cartoons in Texas for some time, it’s been a little obscure for those of us in the rest of the country, and yet it likely matters.

Fortunately, Nick Anderson has created this explanation of what’s going on, and, if you have trouble reading it here, you can get a larger format version here.

Not only does the trial itself have national importance as a sign of pushback against arrogant authoritarianism, but the fact that Anderson’s previous employer, the Houston Chronicle, chose to run it full page is a hint that political cartooning still has some appeal not just to the people who read newspapers but to the people who publish them.

Prickly City (AMS) takes a cynical view of the crisis over on the funny pages, and he’s right that the bean counters and stock swappers have so far refused to give the customers what they want.

But that leaves it up to the customers to raise hell and hold their local newspapers accountable.

Just one more place in which that old rule holds true.

Almost ran this on Labor Day, but it applies every day anyway:

15 thoughts on “CSotD: The Good, the Bad and the Cynical

  1. Definitely the best column you’ve run in a while. Have to admit that I’m also not a Jimmy Buffett fan although my disdain for his music is mild. At least he wasn’t turning out Captain and Tennile-ish crap.

  2. Regarding the cartoon by Tom Stiglich: you know very well that there are different rules for Democrats and Republicans. When Reagan put his foot on the Resolute desk he was being folksy and authentic and nobody thought much about it; when Obama put his foot on the Resolute desk, it was a national scandal.

    No matter how cynical you get it’s impossible to keep up.
    –Lily Tomlin

  3. Like him or not–and I did and still do–I’d like you to at least spell his name right. Cheeseburger in Paradise (which he didn’t own, but did license the name to them) wasn’t a buffet, after all.

      1. Before you give up on Jimmy, try Come Monday. Maybe you’ll feel less cynical. I always enjoy your work!

  4. Agree with your observation regarding Lisa Benson cartoon. If this was really about parents rights, then we would have to take into consideration the parents right who AGREE with what their particular schools are teaching, the books they and their gender policies.

  5. The kissing fool is the head of the Spanish soccer federation. The coach of the women’s team (whose relationship with the players is indicated by the number who refused to play in the Cup for him, and his exclusion from team celebrations after victories) initially supported the fool; he was fired today despite back-pedaling.

  6. Interesting that Prickly City’s uplifting comment on newspaper comics features several characters from “zombie” strips, which papers are usually criticized for running rather than “new talent.”

    1. None of those strips qualify as zombies, with the possible exception of Peanuts which is more accurately described as in reruns. Garfield is drawn by staff but Jim Davis is still actively involved in it. The others are either still done by their originators or are no longer in print.

  7. I got a good chuckle out of your solution to the parent’s rights issue. Good golly gee whiz, if ONLY we had a system that worked that way!
    But in all seriousness, Moms For Liberty is just one step away from being a legit terrorist organization.
    If I were in charge, there’d be no private schools or homeschooling, and public schools would all get proper funding and teachers would get the respect they deserve. The idea that any parent who “disagrees” can just keep their kids in a little bubble where they don’t have to learn about that big scary world out there, and instead be fed a bunch of “alternative facts” (thank you SO very much, Betsy DeVos) is ridiculous to me. America’s educational standards have gotten bad enough without these morons screaming “mUH parEnTs RiGHtS!1!!” because their kid saw a picture of ‘David’ in art class.

    It is hard not to be cynical…

    1. Here’s how the system works in my part of the world.

      The school declines all responsibility and passes the buck to the school board.

      The school board declines all responsibility and passes the buck to the province’s Department of Education.

      The Department of Education declines all responsibility and passes the buck to the school.

  8. After spending over a decade battling my local school board over its failure to provide adequate and appropriate education to disabled students, I read the discussion about parents’ rights with some discomfort.

    It baffles me that a malign and mean spirited group like Moms for Liberty can get so much traction, but I and the groups I to which I belonged could not.

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