Saturday, December 5, 2015

Cattle Call Cartooning

I was uncharacteristically terse in discussing this week's Q Syndicate cartoon on Thursday, so let's try expanding on the topic for our Seatback Saturday feature today.

There could have been double the five presidential candidates that were featured in that cartoon, since we are in the phase of the campaign when there is still a wide field (and Citizens United delays the moment when candidates run out of cash well beyond what it used to be). Having a lot of candidates is both a challenge and a benefit to the cartoonist, because one has to quickly develop recognizable caricatures for several politicians at once. On the other hand, it increases the chances that one of them will say something reckless, or offensive, or bizarre; but one can't draw all one's cartoons about Donald Trump.

I've dredged up some cartoons chock full of presidential hopefuls from the last four elections of the 20th Century. Few of these people ever became president, of course, but not all of these people are gone and forgotten.

Let's start in 1988, the first election in a generation in which there was no incumbent president running at any point. There was a crowded field on both sides of the ballot, allowing for this very bipartisan cartoon:

Usually, it's only the party out of power that enters an election season with a clown car full of candidates. As the 1992 caucuses and primaries began, a different candidate won each of the first five contests, it was starting to look like there might not be any front runner at all.
It took a while before Bill Clinton emerged as the definitive front-runner he had been expected to be. Larry Agran, by the way, did not in fact win anywhere, and it's small wonder that you have no idea who he is.

1996 was the Republicans' turn to be the Out party. I'd just like to point out that, the prominent mention of gays notwithstanding, I drew the above cartoon for a straight newspaper, not the LGBT press. It's common to charge that someone is "out of the mainstream" of political discourse by drawing him or her piloting a boat in the desert; I decided to take a different tack on the cliché.

And as the 2000 election approached, I tried yet another nautical approach.
You'll note the absence of GOP presidential candidates John McCain and George W. Bush from the deck of the S.S. Far Starboard. Running as a moderate, McCain met with representatives of the Log Cabin Republicans and won their support, while "compassionate conservative" Bush assiduously avoided public discussion of LGBT issues as much as possible... until after the election.

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