They've got him up a tree.
The tags on the dogs read: "How about the Paris treaty?" "What do you think of the disenfranchisement of our colored citizens?" and "What do you think of Clark of Mont.?"
As I mentioned last week, Bryan sent a message to Democratic senators in February, 1898 to go ahead and ratify the treaty that ended the Spanish-American War, supposedly so that he could run against American imperialism later; thus that issue is a legitimate criticism of Mr. Bryan.
The Democratic Party at this point depended heavily on support from southern states where the black vote was actively suppressed, so its national candidates had a strong disincentive against criticizing Jim Crow laws, whatever their personal opinion might have been. From today's vantage point, I'd say that this was a fair criticism of Bryan as well.
Somewhat less germane is the question of Montana Senator Andrew Williams Clark, a copper magnate and one of the richest men in America, who bought his senate seat, was forced to resign, and then got himself re-appointed to the seat when the governor was out of town. I don't see any connection between the copper millionaire and Bryan's bimetalism policy, or, really, between Clark and Bryan on any level other than party affiliation. Perhaps that's why that particular dog is further away from the tree. (Here are Bowman's cartoons about Senator Clark. And if you've been wondering whatever became of his daughter Huguette's estate, here's the 2014 story from NPR.)
He leaves his happy home to ta-ah-ah-ah-alk.
In this cartoon, you have: Bryan's 16-to-1 silver-to-gold monetary policy; an empty dinner pail to contrast with President McKinley's campaign slogan of "the full dinner pail"; the Tammany tiger (the traditional representation of the New York Democratic party machine) with its tail stuck in New York Mayor Robert Van Wyck's Ice Trust scandal; and the barrel representing Montana Senator Clark. The closed front porch may be a reference to President McKinley's campaign style in 1896, when the Republican campaigned from his front porch in Ohio while Bryan spoke to crowds around the country from the back of a train.
The Ice Trust Scandal cost Mayor Van Wyck his job, but had nothing to do with Bryan. Mr. Bowman drew several cartoons linking the Ice Trust scandal to Bryan anyway.
To top off this cartoon, Bowman sticks a dictator's crown on Bryan's head -- a complaint usually lodged by the vanquished against the victor rather than the other way around. Cartoonist Charles Green Bush of the New York World, for example, drew a crown on McKinley's head as a way of criticizing the creation of an American Empire. Bryan was soundly defeated in each of his three runs for the presidency, so he never got a chance to be a dictator, if he ever entertained the notion in the first place.
If a dictator's crown on anti-imperialist Bryan's noggin seems a bit overboard, consider this next one:
The political "boxer"
The cartoon here is comparing Bryan's platform to the Boxer Rebellion in China, the bloody revolt that year by nationalist Chinese aiming to expel Westerners and Christian converts from their country. This cartoon is so over the top -- its Bryan isn't merely going to extinguish the smokestacks of prosperity, he's going to behead "The American Working Man" and his entire family.
Remind you of anybody?