Welcome to a Very Special Post-Debate edition of p3's Sunday morning toon review.
So it's come to this: America is the Argument Clinic customer and last night we were shut up in a room with Mr. Vibrating. The host – it's silly at this point to use the term “moderator,” let alone “judge;” probably “ringmaster” is nearest the mark – has promised no penalty for making stuff up. (Unlike the establishment media, I have no problem pointing out that Trump is a liar; if I sometimes avoid the word, it's because actually lying is only one of the weapons in his arsenal: along with self-contradiction, there's subject-changing, free-form delusion, as well as the standard tools of the craft.) The Republican candidate has promised – by his extensive track record of mendacity and by his opposition even to the flimsy and inadequate practice of “fact-checking” – that he's going to be making stuff up. And now the head of the Commission on Presidential Debates has said that she believes it's good enough simply to have Candidate Clinton use her own response time to fact-check Trump. (Has this person watched even a minute of television in the last fifteen months?)
So if you were hoping for to see a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition last night, you should probably have looked elsewhere than the first round of presidential whatever.
Any political cartoonist who tried to capture last week the full magnitude and horror of what we were going to get last night would be laughed out of court, so cartoons prior to Monday night that dealt with the debates were forced to go for the evergreens, picturing Hillary surrounded by books, legal pads, pencils, etc., while Trump is admiring himself in the mirror, practicing insults, etc. Or fact-checking. Or the low bar. Among the best in this difficult catgegory: Clay Jones, Jack Ohman, Joel Pett, Gary Varvel,
Some of the more interesting work came from artists who were sketching in real time, including Ann Telnaes and Matt Davies.
Although a few got out there quickly with images that seemed to reflect the (un)reality of the evening, including Clay Bennett, Jen Sorenson, Tom Toles,
Deadlines drove some cartoonists last night. R. J. Matson posted this on Facebook today, and admitted he wasn't quite satisfied with it:
”I drew this before the debate started last night to meet Roll Call's publication deadline for today's paper. It's not entirely off target, considering what transpired on stage and in spin rooms everywhere, but it could be sharper. Back to the drawing board today...”
(If I were going to quibble – and regular readers (all five of 'em) know that's so not me – I'd say cartoon's problem is not so much about sharpness as that Trump is shown clearing his much-lower bar, but a lot of post-debate commentary, focus groups, etc., suggest he didn't even manage that.)
One last thought on last night's debate (and the campaign in general): When Trump says not paying taxes “makes me smart,” when he brags about having made money off the Great Recession and insists that doing so is simply “called business,” when he muses on the equivalent of strategic bankruptcy for the federal government, when he says he'd tear up existing international treaties (the equivalent in his mind of business contracts?) – those are all morally sketchy but currently acceptable business tactics that have helped bring him whatever wealth he has. In a smarter world than ours, this would put to death forever the foolish idea that America is a business and should be run as a business by a CEO in Chief.
Meanwhile, it's still 2016 in America, so every cartoonist has many opportunities to sharpen his or her cartoons about police shooting black citizens. Since there are only so many ways you can depict police standing over a dead civilian or black parents having The Talk with their children, kudos to Mike Luckovich for finding in the particulars of the Terence Crutcher killing something on which to base some novel but admittedly ultragrim humor.
Today's toons were selected from the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons, About.com, The Nib, and other fine sources of cartoon goodness.
The regular p3 toon review will be back Sunday-ish.