Saturday, September 6. 2008
I've reprinted several Wichita Eagle editorial cartoons by Richard Clawson. He's usually pretty mild-mannered, but occasionally he does get worked up and draws something interesting. But the following one took me aback. Palin, of course, doesn't have a reform message, let alone a reform record. Even if she did, by signing on as John McCain's running mate she's subordinated whatever she might want to whatever McCain wants -- which is hard to speculate on because McCain himself has given up any hint of unorthodoxy in his quest to become George W. Bush's successor. The next time you'll hear McCain espousing anything remotely resembling reform will be the next time he gets caught red handed, like he did in the Great Savings & Loan Swindle.
Then there's the hockey stick grafted onto a baseball metaphor. I'm not sure how to read that, and I doubt that Crowson knows either. Hockey isn't a sport we Kansas know much about, but I was under the impression that slapping the puck out of the rink wasn't as positive an accomplishment as slugging the ball out of the park. In any case, the elephant's exclamation rings false, and the donkey's confusion has less to do with irony than flabbergasted disbelief. That point is well taken. Palin's big convention speech consisted of nothing more than dutifully reading the text of one of Bush's old writers, following the choreography of Bush's pet Machiavellian, Karl Rove -- like Phil Gramm and so many others, part of McCain's maverick posse.
I think the cartoon appeared in Friday's paper -- not sure, because the rain had reduced it to pulp by the time I got up. I noticed the cartoon when I was trying to track down a letter to the editor, written by Richard D. McKenzie, titled "Elmer Gantry II?":
I've read a lot of weird attacks on Obama, but this one is so far off the charts I'd suspect satire if it didn't seem even more implausible than idiocy. It's downright weird on more levels than I can calculate. I doubt that this "widely read" novel has been read by as many of 0.02% of the letter's limited readership, so for starters the writer is placing himself in a peculiar elite -- presumably with Obama, who is presumed to have taken the character as a model. (Why is another whole level of weirdness.) I've never read the book, nor for that matter anything else by Sinclair Lewis. Wikipedia has a more coherent synopsis:
That sounds a little bit like a lot of people, but Obama isn't a name that jumps out for me. It's almost like McKenzie is running through his encyclopedia looking for any kind of slime or slander he can liken Obama to. The fact that this one is a book by an old time left-leaning novelist satirizing rich and pious phonies, a book long hated by the religious right, doesn't even produce any cognitive dissonance. One wonders why Obama's critics so often fall back on metaphors, allusions, and misrepresentations. It's like they can't even bear to contemplate actual issues.
I've been saying all along that the Republican campaign is going to get ugly, but it's starting to look it's just coming unhinged. It's like the Republicans feel like they have this God-given right to win and rule, and they just go crazy when they lose -- it's just something they can't fathom. You got a good look at that reaction when Clinton won in 1992. Clinton more than met them half way, yet they couldn't just graciously claim that even with Clinton in the White House they'd still be getting more than half the loaf. Instead, they went on an eight-year infantile rant. Now, after the sore losers spent their eight-year return to power wrecking everything they touched, they're bound to lose again, and this time not to the sweetheart of the Republican Lite set; no, this time, to, uh, Obama. They seem, thus far at least, to realize that going all Jesse Helms isn't going to do the trick, so they're groping. Elmer Gantry, anyone?