Thursday, June 20, 2024


This week's cartoon posed a thorny challenge: how could I draw a cartoon fit for publication about campaign merchandise that is decidedly Not Safe For the White House?

The cartoon was inspired by a story on NPR last week about NSFW t-shirts, bumper stickers, and other gear proudly sold and worn at Trump rallies. They've got the President of the United States as the direct object of one of George Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say on TV, and extremely crude insults about the Vice President.

“What's different about Donald Trump is that his campaign is not particularly worried about this type of misogyny being attached to his campaign, because at least to date, it hasn't hurt him that much,” explained Kelly Dittmar, director of research for the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Furthermore, she says, this kind of language is often particularly directed at women of color, like Kamala Harris. The word “ho'” on the shirt undeniably makes this about race as well as sex.

Meanwhile, Dittmar says, the Republican base is majority-men.

“And of course,” she said, “of the women who do support [Republicans], they are more likely to say that this is just, you know, a joke.”

That was true of voter Christena Kincaid, who talked to me just after she had bought one of these shirts at a rally in Freeland, Michigan.

“It's just a slang. That's all it is,” she said. “It's a goofy – it is a little over the top. I get it. But they're just words.”

A pastor with whom I work was part of a protest group advocating the Green New Deal outside Trump's rally in Racine this week, and when he came back to the church that afternoon, he told me that he had never seen so many raised middle fingers — even those of children.

Now, he wasn't in clerical garb; he was wearing a tee shirt with a pro-environment slogan, so it wasn't as if all those people telling him what he could do off were necessarily aware that he was a man of the cloth. But I doubt more than a couple of them would have been deterred from flipping the bird had he been out in the hot sun wearing a full alb, stole, and collar.

It's all part of a general coarsening of society, and the corrupt former president and his congressional minions have certainly been leading by example.

Yes, if you want to play the Whataboutism Game, I've seen the internet posts of Melania Trump from her lingerie (and less) modeling days, and of Lauren Boebert on a bundt cake. But I don't think they have been sold on tee shirts at Biden campaign appearances or flying from flagpoles on Biden supporters' front lawns. (And I'm pretty sure that the bundt crack was an anti-Hillary Clinton meme first.)

Is there anything that can be done to bring back civility and decorum to our public discourse? Probably not. If there's one lesson we should have learned from Trump's Access Hollywood Tape through the Stormy Daniels verdict, it's that Trump l'oeilists have absolutely no shame.

Well, there was a guy in that NPR story who conceded that maybe he'd reconsider wearing his "🍆🌀🔥👿 Biden" tee shirt around his grandchildren.

So maybe they have just a wee tiny little vestige of a hint of a distant, fading memory of shame. Hidden away in the deep, dusty recesses of their empty souls.

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