CSotD: Dole, Crocs, Gore, Legos, Biden

Ted Rall was hardly the only person who, in 1995, pointed out that Bob Dole was old. And, compared to his opponent in the 1996 election, he was, given that Clinton was 50. Clinton was also the incumbent, but I felt at the time, and still believe today, that Johnny Carson’s flood of “Old Bob Dole” jokes were a major factor in Clinton’s victory. (Update: No, Leno. See comments)

Not only did Carson Leno make regular hay out of Dole’s age, but he unloosed a torrent of Old Bob Dole humor and commentary. For the record, Dole lived to be 98, having lived through Clinton’s second term and both terms of George W. Bush and Barack Obama and nearly the entire first year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

We’ve also established that Crocs, though extremely comfortable and popular, are stupid-looking, ugly shoes, that Al Gore was a compulsive liar (though the things he said were true) and that while small children leave lots of toys on the floor, it is Legos that hurt when stepped on in bare feet.

I point this out because neither stand-up comedians nor cartoonists are immune to feeding frenzies.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Moderately Confused — AMS

BC — Creators

Picking up on a commonly accepted punchline doesn’t make the cartoonist necessarily wrong.

It’s true, for instance, that kids spend a lot of time on-line these days, though you could argue over whose fault that is and whether it truly keeps them from also having other types of fun.

But nobody’s going to say that stepping on a Lego in bare feet doesn’t hurt, even though it’s no more fun to step on Matchbox cars and our grandparents somehow survived stepping on jacks.

However, repeating familiar jokes about Legos and Crocs and kids staring at phones doesn’t impact the future of the nation by a whole lot.

By contrast, Al Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet or discovered Love Canal, and Bob Dole not only survived grievous wounds in World War II but a host of serious health issues well after the time his death was declared imminent by jokesters and political commentators.

When he finally did die, RJ Matson wasn’t the only person to remember him as more than an old man.

I come not to bury Joe Biden or to praise him, though I agree with Pat Bagley that he’s done a pretty good job despite the NYTimes’ ongoing campaign to promote questions about his age and despite the number of cartoonists who have drawn fading hourglasses over the past two weeks.

I may have seen more hourglass cartoons from progressive cartoonists than from conservatives. As Jean Hérault, Baron of Gourville said, “Defend me from my friends; I can defend myself from my enemies.”

There is fear that Biden’s low polling numbers foretell defeat in November, though the only polls I’ve seen featuring a better-ranked nominee are for Michelle Obama, who definitely isn’t running. I strongly suspect that if pollsters asked people about Taylor Swift or Leonardo DiCaprio, they’d get similar results.

We can add the media’s fascination with polls to the so-what list along with Crocs and Legos. James Fallows recently posted some poll results from this stage of other campaigns:

Perhaps Democrats shouldn’t quite panic yet, given that Perot didn’t win despite polling well several months out, and that the projected cliff-hanger between Obama and Romney turned into a 332-206 rout, or, if you prefer, a popular vote outcome of 65,915,795 to 60,933,504.

At which point I insert Russell Brockbank’s classic Punch cartoon as a reminder that “rats deserting a sinking ship” refers not to those who leap overboard in midocean as the ship goes down, but to a seaman’s superstition about rats who bail out at dockside, anticipating disaster.

To which I will append Daniel Boris’s reminder of how we elect presidents in this country.

I’m not intending this to be a Joe Biden campaign ad so much as a caution against jumping on a bandwagon or, to reference Broadbank’s cartoon, deserting a ship that doesn’t turn out to be doomed after all.

Nick Anderson (Tribune) points out a major difference between the two major parties and his point is well-taken: The Republicans present a united front while the Democrats appear to be in disarray when, in fact, it used to be rare for a candidate in either party to be unanimously nominated.

Beyond Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Donald Trump in 2024, even incumbents have often faced challenges, and I would suggest that, while it’s good journalism to interview the dissenters, it is bad journalism to pretend they are the only people with outspoken opinions or that they constitute a majority unless you can show that they are and that they do.

Elsewise you end up looking like the MSM waiter in this Dave Whamond cartoon, and I am dismayed at how well he seems to have captured the moment.

John Darkow echoes Whamond’s charge, though he hardly portrays Biden as a lively contender, which makes it seem a neutral observation.

But again, the search for naysayers is bound to turn up plenty of material among the more contentious Democrats than it will among the Cult of Personality that exiles dissenters like Adam Kinsinger and Liz Cheney.

Yes, it’s come to this and as long as we’re scooping Elon’s litterbox, here’s an another viewpoint from in there:

Yesterday, the NYTimes finally conceded that Trump also should withdraw, though they buried it as a both-sides concession within a long editorial explaining why it is crucial for the Democrats to change horses in midstream.

Meanwhile, a Google News search for “NYtimes” and “withdraw” yields a massive selection of anti-Biden screeds in the newspaper’s on-going crusade.

Clay Jones cuts to the chase and, rather than jerking us around with fanciful election strategies that would be more at home in the sophomore dorm at 2 a.m., explains what needs to be said to frame the election as a debate over principles rather than a popularity contest between two men.

If nobody else knows the growing stakes, Trump does, and is running away from the 900-page document largely written by former members of his administration.

Dennis Goris isn’t buying it.

Now, since the Philadelphia Inquirer was one of the leading papers to oppose swapping horses, we’ll close with some Philly-style advice for voters:

10 thoughts on “CSotD: Dole, Crocs, Gore, Legos, Biden

  1. Johnny Carson’s final Tonight Show aired on May 22, 1992, so he wasn’t on TV every weeknight making jokes about Bob Dole in 1996. Perhaps you are thinking about David Letterman?

  2. Lettermen’s writing staff making jokes about Dole’s age were as one-note and predictable as his horny Clinton jokes shortly thereafter. Though I’d viewed every Letterman episode since his morning show, it’s what finally flipped me back to NBC and Leno–till he did the same Clinton jokes so frequently that I abandoned him too. Today’s barrage of old Clinton jokes have been ubiquitous on all four late-night shows plus SNL for much of the past two years, so if you need to know where the public’s problem with his age came from, it’s certainly not the news or newspapers. The shows’ have wrung the rag out months ago, but it never stops, and won’t after his re-election, which may come despite their pin-headed head writers who believe they owe no one any allegiance no matter the damage they do. (Ahh for the days of Leno’s moronic “JLo’s ass is so big…” daily bon mots. Who had the last laugh there?)

  3. Seriously, this election isn’t about Biden vs Trump. It’s about Democracy vs Authoritarianism, Freedom vs Fascism.

    More people need to realize this, and not get so caught up in “old man is old” melodrama.

    Trump was, is, and will be an utter disaster for this country. I’d vote for Biden even if he were in a coma.

  4. The conversation on Biden’s age needed to have been had a year ago. His camp is now arguing that Democrats made their choice in the primaries — really? There was a choice? That’s news to all of us who don’t live in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina.

    My fear is that Biden didn’t yield to a younger generation because he thought Kamala Harris was either unfit or unelectable (or that a fight between her and Gavin Newsom — two left-coast Californians — would irreparably hurt the chances of either one). I hope to god I’m wrong.

    That debate performance was the wake-up call that came after the White House kept hitting the snooze button instead of having presidential press conferences.

  5. Well, I am a bit tired of al the whining about Kamala Harris. She got elected vice president, didn’t she ? Do the quipsters believe the voters had no idea of how Presidential Succession works ? (Joe Biden was old in 2020 also.) If Presidential Succession really worries them they should question how # 3 – Little Mikey Johnson – got in that position.

  6. Personally, I’d be fine with voting for Harris. But in my more cynical moments, I suspect that Biden, or his inner circle, thinks that she can only get elected president as the incumbent.

Comments are closed.