Cartoon critics Phil Witte and Rex Hesner look behind gags to debate what makes a cartoon tick. This week our intrepid critics take a look at the political season.
The political season is upon us. Unleash the cartoons!
Viewers of the recent Democratic primary debates were struck by the onstage antics of the candidates. Alternately talking over one another or resorting to canned responses, it often made for a bizarre spectacle. Alex Gregory lampoons the peculiar nature of a political debate with an insightful caption.
After months of watching a truly diverse group of Democratic candidates battle for the nomination, many voters are disappointed in the current result: two elderly white males. Warren Miller exposes the uncomfortable truth behind generations of successful politicians.
Incumbent politicians often wish for a crisis during campaign season to mute their opponent’s message. That matter-of-fact cynicism is in play for the presidential campaign advisors in Peter Steiner’s back-room scenario.
While politicians can’t rely on natural catastrophes to sway an election, there’s a good chance that a scandal will erupt to upend a campaign—and what easier scandal to exploit than a sex scandal? William Haefeli, whose cartoons often feature gay characters, skewers hypocritical politicians in a cartoon that The New Yorker unsurprisingly rejected:
Our current president is famous for his brief attention span, especially during fact-laden briefings. Knowing his preference for television, Tom Toro conjures up an innovative way to recapture the Chief Executive’s attention.
Our focus shifts to Congress and its inability to accomplish much due to political infighting. Last year we were privy to months of televised committee hearings that often devolved into partisan squabbling. None other than Jack Ziegler captures that futility with panache.
The clubby confines of the Senate ooze entitlement. Senate races are astronomically expensive propositions typically undertaken by the wealthy elite. Those sentiments are evident in Dana Fradon’s fine drawing featuring high ceilings, ornate trappings, and a puerile outburst.
A relatively new phenomenon has emerged where individuals—and by that we mean older white males—who have made a fortune in one field try their luck in the political arena. Barbara Smaller offers a clue into what motivates them:
J.B. Handelsman’s cartoon, published in 2000, eerily presaged the 2017 Tax Cuts Act. The looming Capitol Building, framed in plush curtains, is almost another guest.
Cartoonists tackle serious subjects head-on at their peril. A lighter touch and less direct angle is required for publications reaching a wide audience. In this case, the colonial setting and be-wigged debaters add distance from contemporary readers in Peter Steiner’s commentary about gun control.
The Second Amendment shows up again, this time in Bob Mankoff’s cocktail party gem. Clearly, the alcohol has lubricated some unconventional logic concerning the Bill of Rights. The polite listener seems concerned and looking for a way to disengage.
We conclude with Leo Lorenz’s pitched battle between incompatible cultures: Superman’s theme of Truth, Justice, and the American Way versus the gaslighting effects of Hype, Glitz, and Spin Control. This clash plays out nightly on cable news channels.