CSotD: Yes, we have some opinions

DD Degg recently posted two round-ups (here and here) of remarks from people who are of the opinion that political cartoonists should not have opinions. Or at least not strong opinions with which others might disagree.

And yet they do, and as proof, here are some examples. Get’em before more publishers decide it’s not worth offending anyone.

One thing I’ll grant you is that political cartoonists need to be careful with their facts, and many of the cartoons I criticize most strongly are those where the cartoonist hasn’t bothered to do any homework. I’ll give Darrin Bell a conditional pass on today’s Candorville (KFS), however, because it’s harder to know when a strip was drawn, given their longer lead times.

Still, Musk, for all his many horrific faults, did not turn off the Starlink communication satellites in order to keep Ukraine from attacking Sevastopol. Rather, he refused to extend their range in order to assist the effort.

It may be a subtle distinction and he has still left his lip prints on Vladimir Putin’s buttocks, but Walter Isaacson has withdrawn the accusation and his publisher is correcting future editions of the book. Strippers who dip a toe into politics risk being overtaken by facts between inspiration and publication.

Meanwhile, over in the editorial cartooning department, I don’t disagree with Benjamin Slyngstad that Lauren Boebert’s outrageous behavior at a family musical shows a stunning combination of garbage manners and hypocrisy, but I hope he doesn’t think there are very many editors who would run this cartoon. If he’d asked me, I’d have suggested he use “grope,” which is not only less vulgar but describes both her actions and those of her date.

I’ll grant you that voters need to know she was doing more than singing. And vaping. And flipping off ushers. And asking them if they knew who she was.

Though when you’re a star, they let you do that.

By contrast, Ella Baron expresses even more fury in a family friendly way. Russell Brand went ahead with a sold-out stage appearance despite multiple, credible accusations of rape, and his fans greeted him with applause and laughter.

Baron does a nice job, IMHO, of focusing on their shameful acceptance rather than on his apparent guilt. It’s one thing to assume innocence until proven guilty, but there’s a distinction between his saying “There are obviously some things that I absolutely cannot talk about, and I appreciate that you will understand,” and their eager acceptance.

You can’t accuse Baron of pulling her punches, but, at the same time, she expresses herself in a manner that is not, itself, offensive and forces readers to focus on the message.

Jeff Stahler offers a much gentler cartoon focused on the foolishness of voters who cannot distinguish between the president and his family.

It’s a simple cartoon but there’s a lot behind it, because the extremists in the GOP have used terms like “Biden Crime Family” to drum up a connection they have failed to prove exists between the president and his son. We’ve gone a long way since the days of “Have you no sense of decency?” and not in a good direction.

Certainly, Republicans chortled over the antics of Billy Carter and were no doubt happy to see Roger Clinton behave badly, just as Democrats had enjoyed watching Donald Nixon accept questionable favors. Even Lincoln had a step-brother of dubious judgment, though it doesn’t appear to have aroused any political waves.

But that was then and this is now.

I wouldn’t make excuses for Hunter’s behavior, and I was raised to despise and reject nepotism in all its forms, but I have a great deal more patience for the parents of addicts than I have for the practitioners of smear and unsupported innuendo.

And speaking of hypocrisy, Adam Zyglis notes the logical gap between people who are Second Amendment hardliners but are eager to see Hunter Biden convicted of lying about drug use on a gun permit. Their reasoning might be easier to swallow if they adopted “Enforce the laws we have” rather than disputing even those weak guardrails, but as long as they defend the gun show loophole, their attacks on Hunter seem more partisan than sensible.

As it happens, their efforts may get the lad off the hook. According to this article in the National Review, Hunter’s attorneys plan to use a pro-gun Supreme Court decision to overturn the accusations against him.

Which would just go to show that, if you go off half-cocked, you’re apt to be hoist with your own petard.

John Darkow puts a fresh spin on a worn-out cliche, a lovely tool in the cartoonist’s toolbox, to describe Kevin McCarthy’s hapless position in all this. The technique works because it begins with something everyone understands and then adds an element to put it on its head, a form of jiu-jitsu that uses the familiarity to magnify the force.

It’s particularly applicable here because McCarthy is both the leader and the victim of a totally disorganized group. People who enjoy betting the over/under on football games or playing the red at roulette might want to put some coins down on whether McCarthy will still be House Speaker when Hunter’s case is decided.

But they’d better be prepared to offer some odds, because McCarthy could be out before Hunter even gets to enter a plea. Those cats have claws.

Juxtaposition of Timing

Ellis Rosen

Gary Huck

We started with a cartoon in which events overtook timing, and we’ll end with a pair that split the phenomenon.

Ellis Rosen was probably right that whoever went on Drew Barrymore’s strikebreaking talk show would want to do so anonymously, but she has reversed fields since this ran as a New Yorker Daily Cartoon and has decided to postpone her show until the writer’s and actor’s strikes have been resolved.

Barrymore frankly admitted she’d had better advice and changed her mind.

But it comes as no surprise that Bill Maher, who takes particular pride in going against the flow, has, with tears in his eyes, decided to produce a truncated version of his show, due to factors which revolt him but leave him no choice, poor soul, but to be a scab:

While I pause to weep in gratitude, here’s a song from my second-favorite Richard Thompson:

UPDATE: Maher has now announced postponement of his show. I still like the song.

9 thoughts on “CSotD: Yes, we have some opinions

  1. My favorite Hunter cartoon is still the one where the MAGA guy can’t reconcile his hatred of Biden with his support of the things he’s being charged with, tax evasion and gun ownership.

  2. I seem to remember that during the last writers strike both the Daily Show and the Colbert Report came back without writers.

  3. Boebert has emphasized that she is the mother of 4 boys. Ya gotta teach ’em the facts of life somehow.

    Loved Darkow’s cartoon, except that even a tom cat is more morally conscious than the dipsticks McCarthy is “managing.”

  4. Maher’s and probably Barrymore’s excuse is that if they do shows without monologues and “bits,” there are no writers involved.

    Back in the height of COVID, I thought that if Colbert cobbled together some shows consisting entirely of the numbers Jon Batiste’s band played during commercials, I’d watch that. Ditto for full-length interviews from the Daily Show archives. But those wouldn’t have required someone to cross a picket line.

  5. “Rather, he refused to extend their range in order to assist the effort. ”

    OK, fair point.


    Did anyone, especially any cartoonist, notice that a private citizen is making decisions instead of our military?

    We have always assumed that our giant corporations would assist the military in time of war (or cold- or quasi- war). That no longer seems like a valid assumption.

    I have no idea whether the military agrees with Musx’ decision, but I am (insert strong expletive) alarmed the he gets to make it.

  6. The thing with the Bell cartoon is you can change LeMont’s opening sally to “Elon Musk refused to extend StarLink’s reach to support Ukraine,” and nothing is really lost. Every one of Clyde’s lines underscores everything that is wrong with the forty year push to privatization.

    1. True, but errors undermine credibility. Trump wasn’t holding that Bible upside down, Al Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet. You have to avoid that kind of thing if you want your larger message to get through. Journalism 101.

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