The Lowe Down

Category: Bill Clinton (14)

Chan Lowe: Obama, Lin and Clinton collide in Miami


I never thought I would be drawing Jeremy Lin. I’d heard his name bandied about, but since I don’t follow sports, I had to ask my editor who he was.

When the Sun Sentinel news desk found out that⎯by coincidence⎯an incumbent president, a former one, and more important, the sports flavor of the month would all be in Miami on the same day, it was decided that we would do a full court press (sorry, I couldn’t resist) to commemorate the serendipitous event.

My editor, Tony Fins, and I batted the subject around. He opined that Obama and Lin had something in common. They had both come out of nowhere and become instant media darlings.

It occurred to me that Clinton, too, fit into this category. He grew up poor in Arkansas, did well in school, ended up at an Ivy League college, and the rest is history. Lin is the son of Chinese immigrants, also got into an Ivy League school, and was not even mentioned the last time the Knicks played the Heat in Miami. Now, thanks to his recent accomplishments, everybody in the country (except, obviously, me) knows who he is. Barack Obama, the self-described “skinny kid with a funny name,” gained admission to Harvard, gave a memorable speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and became America’s first African-American president an incredible four years later.

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Chan Lowe: Because he Cain


Back at the turn of the century, I was sitting at a dinner table with a group of distinguished journalists. The Monica Lewinsky scandal was still a fresh topic of discussion, and I was struck by the way some in the group blindly minimized the significance of Clinton’s misdeeds.

Several of my companions felt that the country had overreacted to the President’s peccadilloes. “After all, it was consensual,” one said. “It certainly didn’t rise to the level of impeachment.”

I reminded my colleague that whether or not one agreed that Clinton’s behavior in the Oval Office merited disapproval, he was impeached not for doing whatever-it-was (remember, according to the Semanticist-in-Chief, it wasn’t “sexual relations”), but for lying before a grand jury.

“Yeah, well, I still think they made too much of it,” she replied. She also allowed as how she had met Clinton at a gathering once, and that he had an uncanny ability to make every woman feel like she was the only one in the room.

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Chan Lowe: Dems kneecap Kendrick Meek


Lest Florida manage to make it through an entire election cycle without some unique distinction, we have Bill Clinton’s eleventh-hour effort to talk Kendrick Meek into abandoning his senate candidacy to ensure that our state once again makes national news.

This goes beyond cynical. Political parties exist to enable the election of candidates who espouse the principles for which they stand. Using this criterion, there is no more faithful Democrat in the U.S. Senate race, from any state, than Kendrick Meek. Besides, he's been laying the groundwork for his candidacy for years, traveling the length and breadth of Florida and giving it his all.

Now comes Meek’s old friend and mentor Bill Clinton, taking him aside and recommending that he quit because he doesn’t have enough money to win.

Never mind that the national Democratic Party machine shorted the Meek campaign from the beginning because it didn’t have faith in his viability; the real crime here is that Clinton comes at the behest of erstwhile Conservative Republican (now Moderate Wet Noodle) Charlie Crist, who uses as his rationale the threat that if Meek doesn’t bow out and throw his support to Charlie, it ensures a victory by the hated Marco Rubio.

So the national party is willing to throw one of its own to the wolves in order to protect its majority in the Senate.

Here’s why this little caper is not only cynical but naive: It presupposes that Charlie Crist, who is rumored to have secretly assured the Dems that he would caucus with them, can be trusted to keep his word if elected. Anyone familiar with Charlie’s history can safely assume that he will caucus with whichever party gives him the better deal in terms of committee chairmanships and access to power.

Kendrick was wise to turn Clinton down. Only he seems to know that the Democrats have nothing to lose in standing by their man.

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Chan Lowe: Marriage advice from an old pro

advicex.gifThe first thing that probably entered many minds upon hearing the news of the Gores' split was how ironic it is that the Clintons, who by any objective yardstick have plenty more reasons to have gone their separate ways, are still together.

Bill Clinton—America’s favorite rogue--is, and always will be, good for a laugh…and this editorial cartoonist is not above having a little more fun at his expense. Call it an appreciative tip of the hat to someone who was so good to our profession back in the 1990s.

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Chan Lowe: Obama and the empathy thing

empathy.gifBarack Obama needs to learn there is more to governing than staying cool and bringing his calculator mind to bear on the weighty problems of state.

Where is that legendary charisma we saw during the campaign? The dewy-eyed youths willing to follow him to the gates of Hell, or even to Washington, D.C.? His followers are turning away in disgust, not just because he isn't following through with his more liberal promises, but because he isn't stroking them enough.

Remember that stupid poll about who you'd rather have a beer with? There's something to it, because an aloof professorial type may be able to tell you what's best for you, but only a drinking buddy can actually talk you into doing what you have to in order to achieve it.

Barack needs to connect. I don't have any specific suggestions on how to do it--he's the president, after all. He's the one who's supposed to know.

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The Daschle debacle

Remember when President Bush said that if anybody were found to be involved in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame they would be fired? He said this, I suppose, knowing that he couldn't statutorily fire his Vice-President.

It was all supposed to be different with Obama. Accountability. Responsibility. One after the other, his nominees for cabinet seem to have tax problems that make it look as though Obama tacitly recognized one set of rules for big shots and one for ordinary working stiffs (despite his vehement denial).

The only thing different this time is that Obama trotted in a bunch of news anchors and did a mea culpa all over the airwaves. That's refreshing, but some important questions remain unanswered, at least in my mind: What kind of so-called "vetting" went on that Obama's people missed something so significant? Daschle's no fool. He knew, like every other Washington pooh-bah, that a car and driver are taxable income. If he was dishonest with his own potential boss, how could he be honest in his Cabinet post? If Obama knew about it, did he actually think he could finesse this through Congress? What about the fact that Daschle made millions from the very industry he was going to be regulating? What happened to those high standards?

If this is the New Politics we were promised, then why not bring back the best in the business? All he did was lie under oath to a grand jury, and as far as we know, he pays his taxes.

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The more things change that you can believe in...


One of the more rewarding aspects of editorial cartooning is that you are limited only by your imagination. Each day presents a new challenge. That doesn't just go for the subject matter, but for the way you choose to make your point.

This cartoon couldn't be more different from the previous one, where I drew a cartoony little boy wearing absurd-looking eighteenth-century dress.

In the one at the right, it made sense not to show the actual people doing the talking, but rather to highlight the building itself, which is a stand-in for the institution of the executive branch of government.

By necessity, the drawing ended up looking more like an architectural rendering than a typical cartoon, and I was hoping that its very dryness would help to accentuate the distinction between the tropes of the campaign and the new reality of the Obama White House.

I tried to stick to the "Keep It Simple, Stupid" rule. No unnecessary lines, no need for color.

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Pantsuit diplomacy?


At this writing, we still don't know if Hillary accepted, or was even offered, the job of Secretary of State.

One of my colleagues, a big Hillary supporter, wants her to hold out for the Supreme Court. This is an intriguing possibility, since the road to the Presidency is more or less blocked for the foreseeable future, and there's nothing very groundbreaking about being the third woman Secretary of State.

But as Justice Clinton...well, let's just say that Chief Justice Roberts might want to keep a weather eye peeled.

But back to the State Department idea--can you just imagine Secretary Clinton negotiating a treaty with some third-world country on behalf of the United States, while her spouse does deals with the junta in the next room?

Talk about a twofer.

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The Edwards scandal and Bill Clinton


This cartoon tries to combine two ongoing issue threads at the same time: the Edwards scandal in all of its blossoming glory, and Bill Clinton's petulant refusal to recognize that Barack Obama is qualified to be President, even though he repeated throughout the primaries that his wife was ready to take over from Day One.

In a quest for impact, I tried to boil the drawing down to its barest essential elements. All you need to "feel" Bill Clinton is those narrowed eyes, the light-bulb nose, and the authoritative (sometimes accusatory) finger pointed in your face. No point in cluttering it up with distractions like shoulders, shirt, background, or even a neck.

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Democratic Convention 2008


Assuming (along with the conventional wisdom) that Barack Obama is not going to pick Hillary to be his running mate, then whomever he does pick should be pitied, for he/she will instantly be rendered as obscure a figure at the convention as Michael Dukakis.

There is no downside here for Bill and Hill: either they can set her up as Queen-I-Told-You-So in the event that Obama loses later on, or at the very least, they can rain on his parade in his moment of glory.

She worked hard for this moment, and by God, she's going to have it. To quote Ronald Reagan, "I paid for this microphone!"

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Campaign 2008, Bill Clinton and the Obama endorsement


You could say that this cartoon dances on the ragged edge of good taste, and you would be right. I was so cocksure that this baby would get spiked that I had already gotten on my high horse and crafted a sharp-as-a-tack comment in its defense for my Reject Corner.

Imagine my surprise when my editor looked at it and said, "I have no problem with it." After almost twenty-five years at this place, I thought I had him figured out. Pleasant little surprises like these are what keep the job interesting.

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Hillary's tax returns


As one woman I know (and obviously not a Hillary fan) put it, "She grows up in an upper middle-class suburb of Chicago. She attends a prestigious Seven Sisters college. She goes to law school, meets and marries this guy who goes on to become governor of Arkansas. He wins the Presidency. After she's through being First Lady, she searches around for a Democratic state to carpetbag into and wins the Senate race based on her last name. Now she's running for President with that same basic qualification: her last name. Give ME some of that discrimination!"

Let's hear from you, Girls.

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Oldie but goodie: Bill Clinton comes to Harlem


While we all seem to be preoccupied with the subject of race, I remembered this one from February of 2001.

The news hook is that Bill Clinton, known to some as "America's First Black President," had just moved his official post-Presidential office into a building on 125th Street in Harlem.

In early 2001, one month after he left office, he had not yet been "rehabilitated," and Monica was still fresh on everyone's mind. This explains the comment by the local resident.

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Big Bill Clinton


I jump at any chance to do a cartoon about Bill Clinton. Whatever you think of him, his personality is larger than life, and his face is a caricature in itself. The best thing about Hillary's candidacy is that it's put him back on the political front burner, sucking all of the oxygen out of the room as usual. I think it was John Nance Garner who said the Vice-Presidency wasn't worth a bucket of warm...whatever. Whoever is crazy or desperate enough to accept the No.2 position on a Hillary Clinton ticket would probably be relegated to running the elevators in the Senate Office Building.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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