Saturday, April 24, 2010

Republicans Have a Suggestion

I drew this cartoon in response to a cartoon by Chuck Asay (a link to that cartoon is in yesterday's blog entry, below). You don't see cartoonists openly referencing other cartoonists in argument the way you see, for example, Keith Olbermann criticizing Glenn Beck, or Ann Coulter mocking Frank Rich.

In part, that's because it's no longer common for a city to have more than one newspaper, let alone more than one editorial cartoonist. Even where that is the case, few readers subscribe to both papers. Olbermann can tell you what Beck said, but I can't necessarily reprint Asay's cartoon within mine. So I tried to draw a cartoon that stands by itself, but I thought it was professional courtesy to indicate that the inspiration for the cartoon derived from someone else's cartoon.

A similar point came up recently over a cartoon Darryl Cagle drew critical of what he saw as lazy cartooning by other cartoonists over the Catholic Church's sex scandals. He drew five panels showing common themes such as Pope Benedict walking blind, with devil's horns, hiding boys underneath his robe, etc., with the conclusion that anybody can be a cartoonist. A Virginia newspaper which ran his cartoon asked him to respond to the avalanche of complaints about it from people who thought he (and that newspaper) were endorsing those caricatures of the Pope.

Cagle runs an on-line syndicate for editorial cartoons, so he sees lots of cartoons every day. The editor of the Virginia newspaper sees several cartoons every day from whatever syndicate(s) to which the paper subscribes. But the readers of that paper only see the one cartoon printed per day, and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the newspaper did not print the cartoons which inspired Cagle's cartoon.

Well, back to the subject of my cartoon. Until recently, Chuck Asay was the longtime cartoonist of the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph. He's a consistently conservative cartoonist on any subject you care to name; his approach to cartooning has always reminded me of a stodgy old Sunday School teacher. They're the sort of cartoons that say, "It's all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out," or "If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would that mean you'd have to, too?" His cartoons lack the bite of Mike Lester's or the minute detail of Michael Ramirez's, but they do have the same slavish devotion to the Party Line.

But fellow cartoonists tell me he's a genuinely nice guy. And you can't say that about all of us cartoonists.

His cartoon yesterday illustrated the Republican talking point that Democrats don't let Republicans contribute to legislation. Leaving aside the fact that when Republicans were in power, they completely shut Democrats out, Asay's cartoon ignores the fact that when Congress was trying to put Health Care Reform together, they passed several Republican-sponsored amendments and bent over backwards in a futile attempt to get any Republicans on board. Asay's cartoon is specifically about Financial Reform, and conveniently overlooks Senator Chris Dodd's efforts to have input from Republicans such as Tennessee's Bob Corker as the bill was being written.

But Republicans these days have painted themselves -- or have been painted by the Tea Party -- into a corner of having to oppose everything Democrats do. Heaven forfend that they contribute anything other than "Hell no!" to the discussion.


  1. Another point about Chuck Asay...

    say what you will about the man's political ideology, you have to admire his artistic integrity.

    He always draws everything from scratch, and his caricatures of known people are recognizable.

  2. Just so it's more clear Berge, do you have some samples of Republicans completely shutting out Democrats? I realize this talking point is just another way of saying "the Bush years never happened" but more solid evidence never hurts, especially when arguing with obstinate Right Wing-nuts (as opposed to a regular Conservative or Republican.)

    I'd also be curious to see what Chuck thinks, assuming he says anything. Especially since some of his past cartoons have bee, to put it bluntly, rather vile in their thinking.

  3. To dsichel:
    I agree that Chuck Asay's caricatures are recognizeable. He's very meticulous on that count, and I've always appreciated that if he wants to draw a cartoon about the chair of the House Transportation Committee, he draws the actual chair of the committee rather than some generic Congressman character.

    To Brent: The matter of Republicans completely shutting out Democrats in the Bush years was chiefly a House of Representatives phenomenon, I'll admit. Not only were Democratic representatives shut out of the process: remember how Tom DeLay would only let lobbyists in on the process if they gave money only to Republicans? His stated goal was to make Democrats completely irrelevant to government, and he did everything within (and slightly beyond) his power to make that happen.

    The Senate doesn't have the same rules as the House, and the Republicans haven't had a filibuster-proof majority since Reconstruction. Senate Democrats held up some judicial nominations, but never threatened the scorched-earth tactics of threatening to filibuster every piece of legislation. So Ted Kennedy contributed to Republicans' education bills, Max Cleland supported the Iraq war, and Joe Lieberman was Joe Lieberman. But as long as the Republicans ran both houses, the Bush administration got pretty much exactly what legislation it wanted because the Democrats weren't going to grind Washington to a halt.

  4. Thanks for the reply. I've only really been following politics since about 07. I missed the 04 elections by a year or two, and 08 was the first year I could vote.

    The info isn't particularly surprising. Officials from both sides have done bad things. It's just amazing how petty Republicans can be when they don't get there way. Both parties can, true. But I've never seen things like the Tea Party from the Left, nor have we had people shouting "YOU LIE!" in Senate, or say...the Vice-President telling a Senator to go *fornicate* himself.