The pen vs a thousand words

When I recently wrote about President Bush's preposterous campaign assertion that the economy is "turning the corner, and we're not going back," I was forced to rely for illustration bastardizing previously published editorial cartoons. Although I could see "in my mind's eye" a good image, I have no ability to draw it. In fact, I'm probably the only person ever to receive a rejection letter from the Matchbook School of Art.

Ben Sargent cartoon
Ben Sargent, 10-Aug-04 (Click picture to enlarge.)

This past week Ben Sargent drew almost exactly what I was thinking. There was Bush in a maze, just turning the corner. Perfect! In my "virtual cartoon" I had Bush marching resolutely toward the center of a spiraling maze toward a dead end black hole. But it was such a feeble attempt that I took my woefully inadequate representation off the page less than 24 hours after I posted it.

Stuart Carlson cartoon Stuart Carlson, 14-Aug-04 (Click picture to enlarge.)

A couple of days later, Stuart Carlson appropriated a classic Escher illusion (see sidebar) as the basis for his cartoon. Both Carlson and Sargent chose to put a single, hapless follower behind Bush. Alas, the followers of Bush seem to be legion — at least they're vocal!

Pat Oliphant cartoon
Pat Oliphant, 12-Aug-04 (Click picture to enlarge.)

Pat Oliphant took a different tack, using a careering 18-wheeler as his metaphor. There is so much to love about this cartoon. We see Bush insisting they "have turned the corner," despite ample evidence that this is a major wreck in the happening. Then, in the inset, we discover that Cheney is actually driving, and Oliphant puts the defiant words, "and we're not turning back," in Cheney's mouth. In a final bit of commentary, we see Kerry hemming and hawing when asked his opinion. And of course, salt is rubbed in the wound by the incredulous questions of the tiny Oliphant figure.

Ben Sargent cartoon
Ben Sargent, 8-Aug-04 (Click picture to enlarge.)

In another comment on the state of the economy, Ben Sargent shows a couple of self-satisfied, fat-cat suits sporting "W" and "GOP" buttons, pleased that the "economy's turnin' the corner" and "trained, experienced machinists an' computer programmers" are working again. They are, of course, oblivious to the fact that the machinists and programmers are on the other side of the counter in the burger joint. I've never been able to draw chins, and now I see a way to handle the problem — just leave the chin out! Having the tycoons holding fat cigars would have been a nice touch. Not that I'm critiquing!

Meanwhile on the Kerry front

The Democratic convention in Boston was a week-long love-fest to enhance John Kerry's image as a strong, resolute potential commander-in-chief. The whole week was about Kerry's service in Vietnam, contrasting his decision to volunteer to put his life on the line in the service of his country with W's service in the Air National Guard, during most of which time he worked on a campaign and didn't even fly training missions.

Tony Auth cartoon Tony Auth, 1-Aug-04 (Click picture to enlarge.)

Tony Auth highlighted the dilemma this forced onto W: How can he portray Kerry as a feckless wimp in the face of the Vietnam biography?

We have since learned the answer to that question. Namely, get your buddy and campaign contributor Bob Perry to form an organization — Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — and fund a commercial in which veterans allege that Kerry has embellished and lied about his Vietnam record. This was so scurrilous that even John McCain, out campaigning for Bush, condemned the ad. We've seen this tactic before.

Stuart Carlson cartoon Stuart Carlson, 31-Jul-04 (Click picture to enlarge.)

Stuart Carlson picked up on the "in your face" attitude of the Democrats: "You wanna talk national security? Bring it on!" He shows Kerry as commando in full attack.

What I find rather depressing is that we're having to fight the whole Vietnam war all over again, just when it seemed that the country was finally "healing" from the experience. (I put healing in quotes because I despise the pervasive psycho babble.)

Stay tuned! There are just over 80 campaign days before the election!