As Our National Comedians Reconvene…

Posted by on November 22nd, 2010 at 4:12 PM

We interrupt our survey of new comic strips to sample the wares of the nation’s editorial cartoonists in the aftermath of the recent upheaval on November 2. First, here’s Ed Stein (whom we met at his new comic strip, Freshly Squeezed, just last week) depicting the voter turnout.

A nicely persuasive image, I submit. And below that, Steve Breen with another potent description of what the election actually meant. (And if you can’t read the fine print, the voter is wearing one of those stickers that, instead of saying “I voted,” says “I vented.” How much truth can we take? Anger is all the rage.)

Mike Keefe assesses the implications of the recent victorious electioneering slogans in a telling image.

The inherent contradiction he dramatizes between reducing a deficit and, at the same time, extending tax cuts—where or where, then, are we to get the funding that will reduce the deficit if not from taxes?—is but one of several irrationalities that have infested the electorate of late. In December’s Vanity Fair, editor Graydon Carter puts his finger expertly on the difficulty:

“What do you call an electorate that seems prone to acting out irrationally, is full of inchoate rage, and is constantly throwing fits and tantrums? You call it teenaged. Is voting for a deranged Tea Party candidate such as Christine O’Donnell, who has no demonstrable talent for lawmaking, or much else, so different from shouting ‘Whatever!’ and slamming the bedroom door? Is moaning that Obama doesn’t emote enough or get sufficiently angry so different from screaming, ‘You don’t understand!!!’”

Clay Bennett, just below Keefe, concocts a similar symbol of inherently counterproductive impulses to describe the new Congress.

And the allegiances of those now convening as a Congress will make the art of politics—i.e., compromise—impossible, as Bill Schorr envisions in an adroit metaphor.

Only when pigs can fly will the Republicans be working with O’Bama. Instead, we’ll have the immutable gridlock that Keefe so aptly conjures up (with echoes of M.C. Escher).

The logic of all this is deftly captured in Tom Tomorrow’s This Modern World, as we see here.

This comic strip approach, heavily laden with sarcasm, doesn’t use the customary weapons of editooning–visual metaphor and image; instead, it heaps up the indictment, revealing, at last, the pile of crap we’ve had to contend with.

Next, diverting us from such Important Matters, we have the flap over “junk” at airport security. Gary Varvel and John Trevor have some fun with the pat-down obsession.

And ridicule is the best response to what is now universally described as “security theater”: not real security but a show of security. (A person of my acquaintance has been traveling with a box-cutter knife in his briefcase ever since 9/11; no one’s found him out yet.)

Delightful as Varvel and Trevor’s jocular treatment is as a relief from such serious matters as “Twitch” McConnell’s endorsement of earmark bans, I was disappointed to have encountered only one cartoon on the subject that deployed a nude. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

No, next time, we’ll go back to the real funnies.

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