The Passing Scene

Posted by on February 11th, 2011 at 11:22 AM

The excitement in Egypt has provoked editorial cartoonists to deploy an unusually large number of pictures of pyramids. And sphinxes. The sphinxes all look astonishingly like Hosni Mubarak. The pyramids are all pointed. At, you can find an entire section devoted to editorial cartoons with pyramids in them. You have to look around more for sphinxes. They’re harder to find because they don’t talk at all. Sphinx-like, you might say.

One of the best editoons about the Egyptian Predicament is this one by David Fitzsimmons at the Arizona Daily Star:

Using an image that alludes to the iconic toppling of Sadam’s statue in Baghdad, Fitz has deftly encapsulated the U.S. dilemma. As Egyptians try to pull Mubarak off his pedestal, we see that Mubarak is being supported by Uncle Sam, who, his posture to the contrary notwithstanding, keeps repeating, “Mubarak must go.”

And indeed, that was the puzzling posture of the U.S. until quite recently. O’Bama, however, has moved steadily, if not quite so visibly, to support of the Egyptian uprising. Considering the number of U.S. allies who might doubt American allegiance if we turned too quickly on Mubarak, slow and steady is probably the best course.

This morning’s paper, however, published a pretty outspoken statement from the White House: “The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized the opportunity.”

Not much equivocation there.

On the domestic landscape, thankfully, we have more genuine comedy to celebrate, and the nation’s editorial cartooners have not disappointed us in reporting it. Here we have Chris Britt with one of his patented panicky mob scenes in which the jubilant hysteria on the faces of the participants adequately captures Britt’s opinion of the proceedings in the nation’s capital.

Below Britt, Mike Luckovich conveys another interpretation of what John “Blubberer” Boehner and his cronies have been up to. Luckovich’s cartoon is essentially a verbal message: the picture adds little except locale, which, in turn, identifies the “speaker” as the Beloved Grand Old Pachydermist Congresspersons en masse.

And Pat Bagley’s take on the same issue is another fundamentally verbal joke: the picture adds little. But the situation Bagley’s envisioned is a hoot.

But Tom Toles in the cartoon below Bagley’s resorts to imagery as well as verbiage to show us the “opposite of filibuster.” An empty speech balloon. Canny. And memorable. Just what an editorial cartoon is supposed to be.

Apropos the health care repeal, Thom Zajac, co-publisher of the Santa Cruz Comic News (a monthly newspaper of editorial cartoons) tells this tale:

“A little while back I had a conversation with an elderly couple regarding the health reform plan passed by Congress. It was a friendly and light conversation, but they did offer that they were not happy about it, and they mentioned their fear of ‘death panels.’ To which I said: ‘Maybe you can help me out on this one. A lot of people share that concern. I currently have insurance, but if I need a life-saving operation, I can be denied by my insurance company. Isn’t that a death panel?’

“‘Well, yes,’ the husband said as he took his wife’s hand and prepared to walk away, ‘but it’s not a death panel operated by the government.’”

Takes all kinds, I say. Live and let live.

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