The inauguration cartoons are mostly in, and, while it's hard to pick a winner, it's not hard to see the trend.
While a few highlight national debt as a looming presence or a weight on the president's back, and some riff on the coincidence of a black man being inaugurated on Martin Luther King Day (which was several days after Dr. King's actual birthday and, anyway, is like, so, four years ago), there has now come a rush of cartoons based on the GOP's complaints that the President didn't simply offer, in Yeats's phrase, polite, meaningless words, but rather declared his actual beliefs and intentions.
And while several played with the concept -- either mocking the elephant's tears or, from the other side, echoing their feigned outrage -- I think Mike Luckovich (above) had the most concise response, though I would note that Stuart Carlson (below) did very well.
The poem about unity was uplifting, but the tone of Obama's speech was more precisely set up by Lamar Alexander's remarks on the righteous necessity of orderly transition and acceptance of democratic outcomes, and the stirring rendition by an integrated choir of a song that originated when we were forced to kick the asses of a bunch of traitors who would not accept those outcomes.
He who has ears, let him hear, and if the shoe fits, and so forth.
But, while Carlson does encapsulate the tone of the speech, Luckovich summons its background and setting.
That is, we're not talking about a theoretical threat, we're talking "once burned, twice shy."
We're talking about what happened when the newly elected Barack Obama attempted to recruit Judd Gregg for his cabinet, and Gregg made the error of accepting, which earned him a trip to the GOP woodshed.
And if that were the only example, it might be a poor one.
Mark Twain remarked that, if a cat sits on a hot stove lid and is burned, he will learn never to sit on a hot stove lid again, but he will also never sit on a cold stove lid, and there may be some of that principle at work here.
The Gregg debacle was, however, only the most egregious, transparent early indicator of how the GOP's stated goal of destroying the presidency was to be conducted.
And when more than three-quarters of the stove lids prove -- upon painful trial -- to be, in fact, red-hot, what do you really miss by avoiding them all?
To quote a noted Republican sage, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, make the pie higher!"
I've said many times that the difference between Bobby Kennedy and Barack Obama is that Bobby didn't live long enough to disappoint his followers, and Obama does get a substantial load of flak from starry-eyed liberals who expected him to do everything he promised, perhaps in the first six months of his presidency.
However, after four years of this administration, I have to say I think Bobby was more pragmatic and didn't expect to accomplish half as much as Obama apparently did, and that RFK would likely have done a better job of cushioning his groupies for the harsh impact of predictable reality.
That is, had Bobby lived, and won, he would, at the very worst, have embodied the famous final scene in "The Candidate," in which the new senator sits on the bed in his hotel room asking "What do we do now?"
Obama was more like Wile E. Coyote, leaping up with his mandate in hand and piling straight into the fake tunnel the GOP painted on the wall.
I think his speech was basically an announcement that we're not going to see him next on roller skates with a skyrocket strapped to his back.
But if he can channel the aftermath of the election, in which a strong segment of the public seemed to wake up to the cynical manipulations of the obstructionists and nay-sayers, he won't need a skyrocket.
Meanwhile, the boo-hooing of elephants is simply a reminder of what we all learned on the playground: When a bully finally gets popped in the nose, you see what a flimsy disguise all that bluster and bravado turns out to have been.