This isn't exactly a Juxtaposition, but it did juxtapose with a conversation I had with a cartoonist yesterday as we rode the shuttle from the hotel to the opening reception of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists' convention.
Grand Avenue makes a joke that, while not entirely aligned with Donald Trump Jr.'s sarcastic Twitter threat is close enough to make my point, which is that the current administration is very hard to parody.
The point isn't whether Grandma is or isn't entitled to snitch a couple of candies to offset the cost raising her grandkids, nor is it whether Donald Trump Jr. is actually that much of a prick.
The point, rather, is that it's hard for humorists to keep ahead of reality these days.
For standard editorial cartoonists, this mostly means that they have to move fast and get their ironic and sarcastic points in front of the public ASAP.
But -- and this was the point I was making in the conversation -- I think it's particularly hard for that school of alternative cartoonists whose gig is based on having characters stare into the camera and make bland, heartless statements that lay out policies or attitudes directly.
It used to be the case that, when you heard it like that, shorn of all the rhetorical flowers and ribbons and misdirection, but just laid out coldly, you'd have this shock of realizing, yes, that's what it boils down to!
The problem is that our current crop of political leaders are perfectly willing to stare into the camera and make bland, heartless statements that lay out policies or attitudes directly.
How the hell can you parody that?
David Horsey takes on Sarah Huckabee Sanders directly, and adds a little fuel to my point by noting that she's something of a departure from the general eye-candy approach to hiring women that applies at both Fox and the White House.
Now, in fairness to Fox and the White House and in unfairness to funny-looking journalists of both sexes, I'd note that Wolf Blitzer surrounds himself, literally, each afternoon with beautiful young women who are quite articulate, and that the guys who end up on TV regularly won't frighten the horses, either.
You can't get on TV if you aren't telegenic or, barring that, the daughter of a powerful politician and one who, as Horsey notes in his accompanying column, takes no prisoners.
Anyone who is going to be tasked with the job of explaining this president to the news media needs to be comfortable with saying things that are demonstrably not true. That was the problem with Sanders’ predecessor, Sean Spicer. Lying seemed to fluster him. ... Sanders betrays no qualms about her role. She delivers the daily load of fibs and evasions in a flat, emotionless voice and, if questioned, keeps her cool, repeats her fallacious statements and sneers as if she hopes there is a firing squad waiting outside for the upstart journalist.
Again, it somewhat defies parody because it's already about as awful as it can be.
Never mind Sean Spicer. Ron Ziegler, who was Nixon's press secretary, sparred with the press and came up with some memorable workarounds for avoiding obvious truths, but as willing as Ziegler was to stand before the press issuing "non-denial denials," there was a certain acknowledgment that he was playing a role and playing a game.
Sanders gives off no such sense of "hey, it's my job." She's a true believer.
I've looked at war from both sides now ...
It's not that the situation is totally beyond parody, and Tom Toles and Andy Marlette take two approaches to John Kelly's recent statement that the Civil War came about because people wouldn't compromise.
Marlette goes straight to the "shame on you" element, pointing out the insulting lack of perspective in Kelly's remarks, strongly tying them into the implication that Kelly's sense of who "we" are is grounded in a view of white folks as the default from which all else is to be judged.
In this case, his normally light style is abandoned for a more somber graphic approach that is more appropriate to his grim accusation.
I don't know that I'd recognize a Toles cartoon done in a more somber-than-usual style, but his approach is more one of light-hearted mockery anyway.
To return to today's original point, Toles does like to restate talking points in a way that points out their absurdity, but, rather then using the flat, bland restatement tone of the altie-cartoonists, he employs his funhouse graphics to make them seem ridiculous rather than simply outrageous.
I had to look Kelly up to see that he has degrees from UMass and Georgetown, because it didn't seem logical that such falacious nonsense about the causes of the Civil War could have come from a West Point graduate, where history of our wars is a strong part of the curriculum.
Though, as Toles suggests, and as columnists and editorialists have pointed out in much greater detail, you have to be a complete ignoramus not to recognize that much of American history between the Revolution and Fort Sumter consisted of compromising over slavery, with the 3/5 Compromise setting the tone for the unique tone of heartless compromise that kept people in chains well after the rest of the civilized world had abandoned the practice.
It doesn't matter.
We are currently using the OJ defense on everything: Simple denial. Don't argue, don't mitigate. Just restate your position and deny any alternatives.
Which seems kind of funny when you employ that approach to defend the importance of compromise.
Meanwhile, back at the AAEC ...
Last night's opening event, however, was simply a meet-and-greet with some interesting conversation but not much to report.
Well, except that Pat Bagley does demonstrate -- if you'll pardon the dubious lighting -- what happens when a cartoonist has a white suitcoat and some fabric paint.
Which leaves me, really, only one possible
Moment of Zen