I like Mike Luckovich's obit cartoon for Barbara Bush, because it suggests an edge to her that I could certainly see and that others reported from time to time.
And which you sure wouldn't pick up on from the mawkish, sentimental glurge so many other cartoonists provided.
I would normally despise a tear in a cartoon, particularly an obituary cartoon, but I think Luckovich needed to add this one to make it clear that GHWB both loved his wife and knew when to keep his head down, which is the legacy of a specific subset within a generation of women that she was part of.
My mother -- who is only a year older than Barbara Bush -- reported that, at a Radcliffe reunion, her fellow alumnae agreed that being there had been the first time in their lives it was okay to be smart, and I'm guessing Barbara Bush may have had a similar response when she arrived at Smith, though, like a lot of women in that wartime generation, she dropped out to get her MRS degree.
What I think is hard for younger people to understand is that you don't have to be Lady MacBeth to have taken on that wife-and-mother role without surrendering your intellect or knuckling under to male authority. You can retain your edge and be perfectly pleasant and beneficent -- intelligent women have done it for generations.
Which is to say that it's not as simple as the Southern Belle who sweet talks you so nicely that you barely feel the knife go in, because there often isn't a knife or any such Machiavellian intention.
Still, those who are remembering her as a kindly grandmother are remembering half the woman and she surely didn't raise her kids entirely on sugar and spice and bedtime stories.
Her family nickname -- "The Enforcer" -- was well-earned, however affectionately bestowed.
Clay Jones admits that his tribute piece is probably not what his clients were looking for, since it's less about her literacy efforts and more about the semi-literate boob currently in the White House, but, as is often the case, his blog remarks add context and, in this case, he makes some interesting observations about the evolution of the First Lady.
Meanwhile, the many cartoonists who drew cloying, tearjerker Pearly Gates cartoons will likely be picked up by a lot more newspapers than either Luckovich or Jones.
Which thought, coupled with the Pulitzer board's inability to distinguish between reportage and opinion writing (scroll down), made me think of, and dig up, this turn-of-the-century Tom the Dancing Bug piece:
Jones frankly admits he referenced Barbara Bush because his clients would want a Barbara Bush cartoon, and there were, I'm sure, other cartoonists who -- whether or not they put it in such pragmatic terms -- felt the topic was inescapable, even if it didn't seem like the most compelling piece of news.
But you don't have to be a pragmatist, because the market will sort things out, as it does in all the arts. There is the occasional James Patterson, who extrudes books the way Oscar Mayer produces bologna, but most successful authors are writing the things they want to write and enjoy writing.
Ditto with cartooning, such that the profession is, like other arts, at the mercy of patrons and distributors.
And bologna outsells soppressata.
There is some consolation in thinking of Melville and Van Gogh, living in obscure poverty while lesser talents enjoyed a profitable moment in the sun.
In my first go-round as a freelancer, I came to the conclusion that, if I had to sell things I didn't believe in, the money was better in real estate or luxury cars. It was observation upon which I did not act.
Fat slavery and lean freedom and all that.
Anyway, if your local paper only offers a grandmother in pearls at the Pearly Gates, here are some metaphorical pearls others are turning out:
Nate Beeler offers a provocative piece, because he's conservative and charges the media with ignoring death in order to pursue a vendetta against Trump.
And I'm sure it seems that way, based at least on my viewing of CNN, on which Wolf Blitzer shouts and pummels his panels to expound mostly on Comey and Mueller and Trump, and sometimes about North Korea and, when it comes up, about Syria.
I don't know his exact balance, but I'm sure it's easier to assemble a panel to endlessly pontificate about legalities than one of photogenic people who know enough about foreign relations to belabor that topic for two hours.
Which is why I like NPR, whose "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" still operate on the sliced-pie clock, with five minutes for the news roundup and then seven minutes for this, nine minutes for that and around the clockface until five minutes before the hour, the slot reserved for music and books that nobody gives a shit about.
I tend to agree with Wolf, but I'd agree with him more heartily if he kept each topic to about 12 minutes.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Two responses to McConnell's refusal to allow a vote on a measure to protect Mueller from being fired.
I'll admit I have a prejudice in this, because I was brought up in a democracy.
I've always favored bringing things to a vote, even if I planned to vote "no." I want the discussion. I want to hear both sides. I want to know where we stand.
I guess Mitch already knows.
The Washington Post has put together a collection of Ann Telnaes's Mueller commentary, which is not only worth your clicks but provides a chance to say that I'll be seeing her and a large number of other cartoonists this weekend in Minnesota.