Since we’re in full confession mode this week, and I’ve already revealed that I’m harboring strangely positive thoughts about Hillary Clinton, I might as well go all the way and declare that I am deeply disappointed by John McCain.
Yes, ten years ago, when he was running in the Republican primary against W., I thought (as did many Americans), “Here is an honorable man. I might not agree with his politics, but he appears to have the integrity I find lacking in so many pols today.”
Somewhere between then and now, Big John sold his soul to the forces of darkness. We won’t even talk about his rank opportunism in plucking Sarah Palin out of obscurity—an act for which the nation still suffers.
Formerly a moderate on immigration reform, he demonized aliens in a craven⎯albeit successful⎯attempt to beat a rabid conservative in his recent reelection bid.
Now he plays the spoiler as ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, using one dilatory tactic after another to block the open integration of gays into the military. He called for a study. It was completed, but the results did not comport with his wishes. He wants another study.
Two-thirds of service members surveyed say they don’t care about the sexual orientation of their comrades. The Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs want DADT repealed. They attest such an action won’t harm the military in the long run. An overwhelming majority of Americans favors repeal. What dwindling group of troglodytes is McCain fronting for at this point?
Yes, John McCain served honorably in war, fighting to protect the sacred rights of Americans. Since that time, he seems to have forgotten that meant the rights of all Americans, not just the ones who vote in Arizona’s Republican primary.
I used to think that Hillary Clinton was too strident, too self-centered, too opinionated and too vindictive to be President. Since then, another personage of the female persuasion has grabbed the center stage of politics, and by comparison Hillary seems like an exemplar of cool-headedness under fire.
Considering the plateful the incoming President was handed back in January of 2009, it has become more apparent than ever that simple, cold competency was and is the foremost quality needed in our leader in these tough times. The jury’s still out on Barack Obama in that regard, but Hillary has left no doubt that she possesses it in abundance.
I make light of her in this cartoon, but right now I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have in the hot seat when there’s so much ’splainin’ to do, as Ricky Ricardo might say. Not only is she handling a touchy situation with the same grace she displayed during the Monica Lewinsky circus, she might yet make a silk purse out of this mess.
Take, for example, the Gulf States’ constant behind-the-scenes badgering that we waste Iran and President I’m-A-Dinnerjacket for them. Now⎯thanks to the Wikileaks cables⎯ it’s out in the open that they, we, and Israel are all on the same side. You know that Arabic cliché, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend?” Peace agreements have been forged on shakier grounds than this, and Hillary definitely has the resourcefulness to uncover opportunities in our newly revealed camaraderie.
May the Force be with you, Madame Secretary.
We have a wry saying on the Editorial Board that there is only one editorial about the Middle East peace process. We just pull it out of the files, dust it off, change the name of the president in question, and run it again and again.
You have to give Obama credit for even trying, particularly since he has so much on his plate already. Failure, once again, is a distinct possibility. Nevertheless, the payoff is enormous for all parties involved if, somehow, this time, there is a real breakthrough.
As Prime Minister Netanyahu likes to say, it takes a hawk⎯a la Nixon in China⎯to forge a meaningful peace. In Mahmoud Abbas, he has a Palestinian partner to work with who certainly has his own problems, but who is not seeking to serve cynical ends, and who understands that Israel has certain requirements which need to be met before she can feel truly safe.
No president can call himself worthy of the office unless he makes at least a stab at resolving this intractable issue. So much follows from it; the end of killing would be enough in itself, but other benefits would include comity among our allies and a united front against the threat from Iran⎯the real enemy we all face.
What Obama is doing (in tandem with the extremely able Secretary of State Clinton) is much more than a stab. He’s putting a lot of political capital on the line. It’s a shame that the only people dumb enough to buy that garbage about his being a Muslim are Americans. If the Palestinians believed it too, it might help establish him as an honest broker (Don’t write in…I’m being facetious).
Our thoughts and prayers ought to accompany all the negotiators involved as they engage in their mission. There can never be too many attempts.
Hamid Karzai may be corrupt, but he’s no fool.
He knows it’s just a matter of time before we throw up our hands and pull out of his ungovernable country, so he’s following the time-honored script perfected by past U.S. clients: paying lip service until the last possible minute while secretly getting his affairs in order for his next act.
Afghanistan doesn’t have a history of being kind to its leaders when they retire—if they even get the chance to retire⎯and my guess is that Karzai is a keen student of history, specifically of figures like President Nguyen Van Thieu of Vietnam and the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos, who escaped the retribution of their people in planes loaded with looted gold bricks. Keep those engines warmed up, Hamid.
On another topic, I stumbled across this post and cartoon, which I wrote and drew on the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration in January of 2009. What I predicted about our current national mood was so prescient that it surprised even me. I haven’t altered a word of it.
The 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.
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.
There is a delicious irony in this whole business about Sarah Palin. I can't remember in which play Shakespeare used the phrase, "hoist on his own petard," but it certainly describes Hillary's present situation.
If she hadn't hung on all the way to the end, if she hadn't made that bitter non-concession speech, if she hadn't talked about the need for "catharsis," then maybe those of her followers who remain disgruntled females might not have been up for the taking.
John McCain might have picked another boring rich white guy, and everything would have trundled along as expected. But, no. He picked a woman, and now Hillary finds herself too clever by half. If McCain wins, she won't be the first woman anything.
Now, she's forced to work her heart out for Obama, and sincerely, really sincerely (AAACK!), hope that he wins. And wait eight whole years now for her chance at the brass ring.
Even Bill, the political genius, couldn't have prognosticated this one.
OK, politics had the day off yesterday. I'm back to bashing your favorite political icon.
Actually, this was a rare opportunity to hit both sides at once: first, Hillary for being so disloyal to her own party as to indicate she thought the Republican was more qualified than her Democratic opponent to be President. There's nothing wrong with ambition, but I think this was unprecedented in a primary campaign.
Second, John McCain for concentrating on the insults Hillary hurled months ago in the heat of a primary battle, when what the country desperately needs to know is how he plans to get us out of our mess.
From a journalistic perspective, you have to be grateful to Hillary and her most ardent followers for at least creating some news at what is otherwise a very predictable coronation ceremony. I hope they scream, wave signs, try to drown out the presumptive nominee, and make a general spectacle of themselves.
There will likely be no such antics at the Republican convention, plus they're trotting out Dick Cheney to keep the disgruntled conservatives fat, happy and in line.
First, the idea floated by Hillary herself that her supporters need some kind of "catharsis" before they can be convinced to vote for the presumptive Democratic candidate is patronizing (matronizing?) on its face. It's exactly the kind of notion that feeds prejudices about why a woman would make a lousy president: that a female is more likely than a male to sacrifice common sense and reason to the altar of emotion, and God help us if her finger is on the button when she's having one of her...days.
It's surprising that a woman as smart as Hillary would buy into that line. Or, maybe it isn't so surprising if you believe that she's really out for Hillary and that the whole "Joan of Arc of the Women's Movement" trope is just her vehicle for getting where she wants to be.
For those "dead-enders" (to quote Donald Rumsfeld, which I try not to do too often), who would rather vote for John McCain or sit on their hands than settle for half a loaf, I have three words: "Supreme Court nominee."
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!"
I showed this specimen last week to my editor, Antonio Fins, thinking it was going to be a shoo-in. I was wrong. Herewith, Tony's justification for spiking it:
"This one I axed cause it is time to come up with a new topic in presidential politics. We've run dozens of Hillary-themed cartoons this year. Not just Chan's but also ones we picked up from the wires for secondary art. (Today we even have Bill on the page.) After I nixed this one, Chan drew the one about Obama and campaign finance reform, which ended up in the New York Times. He can thank me for that.
Hillary's campaign is over. It's time to focus on Obama and McCain. That is, if you ever recover from seeing today's artist's rendition of Bill's ass."
The "ass" Tony refers to appears in the posting below this one, which was approved by Editor Earl Maucker (to my amazement). As for the Hillary cartoon, I beg to differ on Tony's take that her campaign is over. The whole point is that some of her more fervent supporters refuse to let it die. To me, their disgruntlement is part of the aftermath of a tough campaign that is worthy of comment. My guess is that Tony is just as tired of this extended political season as everyone else, and wishes it would end, like our eight-month Florida summers.
Tell me what you think.
Hillary's concession speech over the weekend is sure to create further strife in already divided households. As if that weren't enough, there is that pernicious "secret Muslim" rumor, which is particularly rampant here in South Florida. Just thought I'd stir the soup a little.
Talking about Hillary Clinton with someone is like talking to your friends about whether or not they want anchovies on their pizza. Everybody has a violent opinion, and nobody is indifferent. From what I can tell, Clinton supporters are well-meaning and honestly feel that a Clinton/Obama ticket would be greater than the sum of its parts.
In their zeal, however, they forget that there are others in the electorate who so viscerally detest her that it would drag people out of the woodwork who might otherwise not care that much whether Barack Obama or John McCain became President.
We'll have to rewrite all the cliches... It's over and it STILL ain't over. Not only has the fat lady sung, but the audience and orchestra have packed up and gone home and they've shut down the opera house. Nothing succeeds like failure.
For people in my business, this is a godsend. It's the most exciting kind of sudden-death overtime, and if we're lucky, it won't end until the convention. I don't mean to imply it's the best thing for the country.
I'm back in the saddle. Thanks to all of you who read my flashbacks on the blog while I was away.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of this job is combining seemingly unrelated topics in the news. I have developed these generic Martian characters over the years, and employed them in a variety of contexts. Originally, they had two eye stalks and a hand coming out of the chest, along with a mouth somewhere in the abdominal region and a single prognathous tooth. Now they boast only one optical appendage and a right foot.
I cannot take credit, however, for the character in the pantsuit.
I guess we're in for a long campaign. You'd think McCain would let independently funded groups do his Swiftboating for him so he can hang onto his fig leaf, but he just can't seem to wait. Let's play on the Muslim rumor to get that Straight Talk General Election Express rolling. If he's a Muslim, he MUST be a closet terrorist, right? After all, he's Hamas' poster boy.
I would imagine there are more than a few Klan members who plan to vote for McCain. That doesn't mean I'm going to be drawing him wearing a hood and burning crosses any time soon.
After the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, we all watch in fascination, some of us in horror, as Hillary Clinton refuses to read the writing on the wall. Depending on your point of view, she is either to be admired for her toughness and resilience, or vilified for her selfishness and egotism.
I particularly enjoy this colorful image, which I snagged from the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza's blog, The Fix: "Nor are there many among unaffiliated Democratic consultants who believe she is ready to bail out. 'She is the Japanese soldier in the Pacific island that hasn't been told the war is over,' said Democratic pollster John Anzalone. 'Occasionally she picks off a few islanders and considers it a victory. Well, yesterday she found out the war was over.'"
I only disagree with the last sentence.
Asking a politician not to pander is like asking a shark not to bite into your thigh. I just wish they wouldn't so brazenly insult our intelligence. They assume we're all idiots...now THAT'S elitism.
This race is driving the Democratic Party bigwigs bonkers. The only Democrat who might have had the clout to step in and stop the carnage happens to be married to one of the candidates, and his stature is diminishing by the day, anyway.
Behind it all runs a leitmotif of Machiavellian psychobabble:
1: "She knows she'll lose, and she wants to make sure to destroy Obama on the way out. That way, McCain wins the general, and she comes back in four years as St. Hillary, the patron saint of I Told You So."
2: "Spite. If she's going to lose, she wants to take him and the party down with her as punishment for not picking her in the first place. How dare the vermin stand in her way?"
3: "She'll do anything to win, and worry about dealing with the hurt feelings later. The Clintons defined winning dirty. Her base, the shoulder-pad feminists of a certain age, see this as simply being tough in a tough world."
4: "The longer she manages to stay in, the higher the price she can exact for agreeing to get out. Governor of New York? Senate Majority Leader? Chief Justice Clinton?"
I believe all of it.
This year, countries governed by all types of political systems are captivated by our electoral process. We stand before the world as a shining beacon of government of the people, for the...well, you know the script. Let's show them what REALLY matters, that is, when we're not thinking about American Idol.
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.
No, I didn't draw this in response to angry Hillarylovers who ask why I'm always beating up on their warrior woman. I just call 'em as I see 'em, and right now I'm not seeing anything new or refreshing from anybody.
When I finished this cartoon, I realized it wasn't so much an opinion as a statement about the Clintons' political philosophy, which is "Win now at any cost. Smooth over hurt feelings later. Once you've won, people forget about the means you used." They could be wrong this time.
It always makes my day to aim a cheap shot at Hillary, who lately has been deserving it, but even more attractive was the opportunity to poke fun at the politics of victimhood and political correctness.
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.