Saturday, February 22, 2020

Primary Cullers

The last couple of Saturday posts ran pretty long and required exhaustive research, so this week, I'm just digging up a handful of my own cartoons and wasting less of your time. Let's take a quick trip down Memory Lane to Primaries Past, shall we?
in UW-Parkside Ranger, February 4, 1988
I've learned not to get too heavily invested in a single favorite candidate this early in the presidential race. Like Bruce Babbitt in 1988 (anybody remember him?) they tend not to fare particularly well. Oh, sure, I'd like to have seen Julián Castro do better this time around, but I'm not bereft or befuddled over his having to drop out before a single vote was cast.
in UW-Parkside Ranger, February 18, 1988
Iowa and New Hampshire have, by virtue of cutting to the head of the line, acquired outsize status in the nominating process. The two have awarded a total of 65 delegates this year, less than 1.5% of the 4,750 that will meet in Milwaukee this July. But three candidates shuttered their campaigns as soon as New Hampshire's votes were in; and for whatever reason, non-white candidates could gain no traction in these two overwhelmingly Caucasian states this year. #PrimariesSoWhite.
for UW-M Post, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 23, 1992
I cast my first presidential vote in Minnesota's 1980 caucuses, which were held on the same day as the New Hampshire primary that year (and were promptly shooed back by the national parties in deference to the Granite State). But ever since, I've voted in Wisconsin's caucus (1984) and primaries, which have usually been held in April.

in UW-Milwaukee Post, February 27, 1992
At the current state of the race, you often hear pundits drooling over the nightmare scenario of a brokered convention. The fact, however, is that by April, the field has winnowed down to two or three candidates, one of whom is on his/her last legs.

But at least we have April 7 all to ourselves this year. In 1996, Wisconsin moved its primary to mid-March and got lumped in with Illinois, Michigan and Ohio in what was dubbed the "Big Ten Primary." Each of those other states were significantly more delegate-rich than the Dairy State. We're not accustomed, as Iowa and New Hampshire voters are, to running into presidential candidates every time we walk out the front door; but in 1996, we saw even less of them than usual.
in Racine, WI Journal Times, March 15, 1996
Moving our presidential primary to March also meant that with Wisconsin's non-partisan elections in April and primaries for those elections in February, voters were asked to come to the polls three times in three months. In 2000, Wisconsin moved its presidential primary back to April.

Wisconsin Democrats and local election officials around the state successfully fought Republican efforts to move up this year's presidential primary, which will be held on the same day as the nominally non-partisan election for the state Supreme Court. There is a de facto partisan Republican majority on the Court, with an appointee of Scott Walker up for election to a full ten-year term this year; Democrats thought that the presidential primary would energize their base enough to vote him out.

What Democrats have failed to consider (aside from the possibility that the nomination might be settled by April 7) is that there will be plenty of Republican voters coming out to elect mayors, school boards, city council members county supervisors, and other non-partisan officials, and to vote on whatever local referenda might be on the ballot. The Democratic presidential primary will be the only openly partisan race on the ballot, and there will be nothing preventing Republicans from voting in it.

Do not be surprised if polls of "likely Democratic voters" prove to be way off the mark.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Q Toon: How's This Going to Look

Rush Limbaugh spent a good portion of his program recently gloating over supposed anxiety among Democratic leadership over Pete Buttigieg's decent performance in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. The Presidential Medal of Trumpitude recipient imagined party leaders whimpering the sentence at the top of my cartoon this week.

That's a direct quote. For what it's worth, Pete Buttigieg turned 38 on January 19, three weeks before Rush's remarks, so don't sic the Snopes on me.

Buttigieg isn't ashamed of his PDAs; and to their credit, while the other candidates have plenty of grounds for grudges against the upstart former mayor, they have come to his defense on this little contretemps. Even some Republicans voiced criticism of Limbaugh's comments.

Meanwhile, Melania Trump's sentiments about PDAs with her husband are well documented. So, fine, let's bring it on, Rush.

Monday, February 17, 2020

This Week's Sneak Peek

How are we supposed to explain to our children that this wretched but prodigious spewer of bile over the airwaves was awarded a Presidential Medal of Trumpitude live on all TV networks?

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Miss Democracy Rides Again

After I published last Saturday's post "In Search of Aunty Democracy," tracing the origin of an obsolete cartoon representation of the Democratic Party back to 1899, Daily Cartoonist editor D.D. Degg pointed me to a number of older cartoons in which she appeared. Most of them were by Leon Barritt, who is best known in journalism circles for a June 29, 1898 cartoon in Vim depicting rival publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer dressed as "Yellow Kids" and stacking large alphabet blocks to spell out "WAR."

As described in the Washington Evening Star, "Miss Democracy is often represented as an elderly lady, tricked out with corkscrew curls and an abundance of flounces" (September 29, 1910, page 6). Columnist Mark Sullivan wrote that she was an "elderly spinster who... has been the personification of the historic traditions of the Democratic Party" (September, 1938).
"Is It Really Prosperity?" by Leon Barritt in New York World, July 31, 1897
Some of these old newspaper cartoons suffer greatly in the process of transferring microfiche photos of yellowing newsprint to internet-friendly .pdfs. Some were created by people who may have been fine engravers but poor cartoonists. And ones like our first cartoon were marred by having a column of type laid across a large corner of the drawing.

The width of newspaper columns of type in those days was fixed and unyielding, so if there was more copy on the page than fit with the graphics and advertising, the graphics had to suffer. Unless another print of this cartoon exists somewhere, we'll never know what those black squiggles under the sun of "prosperity" were supposed to be.
"Pretty Thoroughly Disguised" by Crapo (?) in Philadelphia Press, ca. August 2, 1896
The signature on this cartoon from the Philadelphia Press looks to me like "Crapo," but I can't be sure of that. As with most of the cartoons in today's post, the issue is the tension between the party's free traders on the one hand and its populist backers of high tariffs and free silver on the other.
"Don't You Ride, Mr. Cleveland?" by Charles G. Bush in New York Telegram, ca. April 24, 1896

"Those Fellows' Legs Won't Even Reach the Pedals" by Leon Barritt (?) in New York Press, ca. April 26, 1896
I can't find a signature on either of these cartoons, but the printing of the caption in the second resembles that in some cartoons by Leon Barritt, who was the regular cartoonist for the New York Press in the mid-1890's. The New York Press had, according to its Page One flag, the "The largest circulation of any Republican paper in the United States," which explains why Miss Republican is so much more attractive than Miss Democracy.
"Miss Democracy Is Feeling Quite Well..." by Leon Barritt in New York Press, February 27, 1895
Reaching further back in the New York Press archives, I began to like Barritt as a likely originator of Miss Democracy. As noted above, he also drew for Vim (I haven't located their archives yet), a nationally distributed humor magazine. Not only did Miss Democracy appear in several of Barritt's cartoons, she was named in numerous single-sentence editorials in the Press — snide remarks like "And now they are talking about Miss Democracy in her divided skirt."
"Is Not That a Beautiful Piece of Patchwork?" by Leon Barritt in New York Press, Nov. 28, 1893
The same mini-editorials made for filler in other Republican newspapers, and so did Barritt's cartoons. Republicans, then as now, enjoy parroting the talking points that come out of Republican Talking Point Central.
"Too Faithful Dog Tray" by Herbert Merrill Wilder in Harper's Weekly, June 18, 1892
Going further back, however, I still find Miss — or in this case Madame — Democracy in cartoons by other cartoonists in well-established national publications. This Herbert Wilder cartoon on this issue of tariff reform found its way into some daily newspapers (which didn't have the ability to render the same level of detail as the weekly magazines).
"Which of You Can Bell the Tiger?" by unknown artist in Baltimore Herald, ca. June 22, 1892
Reprints often looked fairly awful. I can't find a signature on this one originally in the Baltimore Herald and included in a round-up of national cartoons in the New York Press. This "Miss Democracy" isn't dowdy at all (it's hard to read it in this wretched reproduction, but that's the label dangling off her hip).
"Miss Democracy Tantalus" by Leon Barritt in New York Press, April 3, 1892
Nor is she elderly in this 1892 cartoon by Leon Barritt. From what I've seen, Barritt began signing cartoons in the New York Press in 1890 (several cartoons, often only one column wide, were unsigned), and neither he nor any of his fellow cartoonists at the Press employed Miss Democracy at all that year.
"Her Platform Going to Pieces" by Bernard Gillam in Puck, March 26, 1884
Ms. Democracy is comely in this cartoon by Bernard Gillam in Puck, a far more influential humor magazine in its day than Vim ever was. For now, this is the oldest cartoon I've found in which the Democratic party is represented by a woman. (The gentlemen in the cartoon about tariff reform are House Speaker John Carlisle, D-KY, and former House Speaker Samuel Randall, D-PA. Harpweek notes that the Democratic platform that year settled for vague platitudes on the tariff issue.)
"Cold Buckwheats" by Bernard Gillam in Judge, October 12, 1889
Puck was a non-partisan but not non-political humor magazine; Gillam left Puck for Judge magazine after Republican interests bought the latter and turned that humor magazine into a G.O.P. mouthpiece. That might explain why Gillam's Ms. Democracy aged so poorly in a mere five years.

Gillam was not a fierce partisan; his "Phryne Before the Chicago Tribunal" cartoon of Republican James Blaine is one of two cartoons credited with dooming the campaign of the Republicans' 1884 presidential nominee — but Gillam voted for Blaine anyway.

I have found a reference to "Aunty Democracy" in a September 25, 1885 editorial in the New York Herald, and one to "Dame Democracy" in Truth (New York) on September 28, 1883, but no cartoon of her that far back. Yet. Until I find evidence to the contrary, I'm almost ready to proclaim Gillam my prime suspect as the inventor of the "elderly spinster" version of Miss Democracy. Does anyone beg to differ?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Q Toon: Pete, or Repeat

Video went viral last week of a woman learning at her Iowa Democratic caucus that a candidate she supported, Pete Buttigieg, is gay. Somehow, she had never heard this before, and since there's no same-sex marriage in the Bible, she asked to change her vote.

This week's cartoon is not about her.

That woman was also wearing stickers for Amy Klobuchar, a perfectly reasonable alternative for any voter who may have been interested in Pete Buttigieg. They're both centrist Democrats from the Midwest, with similar stands on most major issues. Chances are good that either is the second choice of many of the other's supporters.

If few of the Democratic candidates are catching fire yet, it's because most Democrats would be just as happy voting for any of the candidates besides the one they favor the most.

Most Democrats, that is, other than certain Bernie Sanders supporters from whom I hear a lot. So do pollsters.

In 2016, pollsters found that ten percent of Bernie Sanders voters in the primaries cast ballots for Donald Trump in November, which flabbergasts me. Wanting to shake up the system is one thing, but the differences between Socialist Sanders and Plutocrat Trump are so vast one has to wonder what exactly it was that the 10% saw in both of them.

10% of Bernie Bros may not sound like a lot, but they were enough to tip Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to Trump.

I'm guessing that if he doesn't get the nomination, most Buttigieg supporters today will support, more or less enthusiastically, whomever the Democratic nominee turns out to be rather than Donald Berzelius Trump. But you can never be sure about these voters who have only started paying attention to the race in the past week or two.

I don't know how else to explain a voter who had no idea that Buttigieg is gay and finds that fact to be a deal breaker.

Every one of the other Democratic candidates supports marriage equality, anathema to the crowd pushing to legislate Leviticus. If this woman gets all her news from her evangelical preacher, there's a good chance Revrunt Soandso's has forgiven Trump his multitude of sins past, present and future, but still thinks that Barack Obama was the Antichrist and that the current Democratic field is just as bad.

Oh, by the way, did she know that Amy Klobuchar is a Vikings fan?

Monday, February 10, 2020

This Week's Sneak Peek

When I linked on Facebook to Saturday's "In Search of Aunty Democracy" post, I noted that some more definitive tome on her was sure to pop up as soon as I did so.

Although nothing about her origin has yet turned up, sure enough, somebody pointed me to some examples of her that were older than the ones I had already found. Looks like this Saturday's topic is already set, then.