Kevin Siers proves that you can breathe life into any tired trope if you are clever and the facts align.
The Pinocchio gag may, like Hitler references, have been rolled out too early and used too often, beaten into cliche before we realized how much we were going to need it. Or maybe it's just that calling someone a Pinocchio because he's been caught in a lie is tired to begin with.
However, you can't be afraid to reach for the right gag at the right moment, and the would/wouldn't pun, combined with Pinocchio's wish to be a real little boy instead of one made of wood, makes this irresistable, and the liar aspect of the story adds to the commentary instead of forming its center.
That is, if Pinocchio weren't remembered as a liar, the story of the puppet who wanted to be real would not be enough here. And we've all seen Pinocchio the liar as commentary far too often. But the blend works really well.
Almost at the opposite end of the wit scale is RJ Matson's commentary, which manages to be silly and well-conceived at once. Once again, the idea is familiar: Rewriting the slogan on a MAGA cap.
But had he done a Do Make Don't Make gag, it would fall flat, because it's not a DMAGA cap and, to work, you have to play with what you have been given.
That might cause a cartoonist to back away, because there's no negative form of "Make." But, then again, Trump's defense of his alleged "misstatement" is so shallow and unbelievable that a ridiculous, made-up word is a good way to express not just doubt but rejection of an equally silly attempt to explain away what we all saw.
Clay Jones makes another joke about changing a positive to a negative, but it works on another level, because it's more about what we should have heard and what we've come to realize.
People have talked about "treason" and "high crimes and misdemeanors," but I don't think we're there yet, at least not based on the verified accusations. If he handed over the American diplomats Putin would like to question,we might be closer, but, for now, we seem more mired in "dereliction of duty," which is certainly as impeachable as lying about a blow job but, then again, that impeachment failed, so it's hardly a model.
It's that moment in "All the President's Men" when the wise old editor throws cold water on eager young reporters.
It's not that they aren't on the right track. They just don't have it.
The question before us is why Trump seems so beholden to Putin that he would make such an ass of himself and turn his back on our traditional allies while embracing a tyrant. Mike Marland offers a humorous suggestion, or, at least, one that will remain a joke until someone produces the pee tape, if it exists.
Several things in that bundle of data have panned out, but the infamous pee tape remains pure conjecture and will likely remain so. If it exists, it's almost certainly being held as the ace in the hole, to be played only when absolutely needed, and, at least for now, confusion seems more useful to our enemies than an actual impeachment.
And Tom the Dancing Bug has a longer cartoon about the confusion caused by Trump's bald-faced lies, which, yes, do seem like the lies we tell, and eagerly stretch to believe, in a failing marriage. Go read the rest here.
I think Ann Telnaes gets down to what Putin really has hanging over Trump's head, because, even without knowing everything the investigators know, it's becoming clear that the tangle of business dealings has left the Trumplings vulnerable.
Which leaves the fascinating question of how much Papa Strompf cares about his kids, because his willingness to throw others under the bus in order to save his own skin has never been tested quite to that degree. On the other hand, his level of rank narcissism has also never been fully probed.
Another question being can the kids fall without taking down the old man?
It's an interesting question. If I were one of the kids, I'd be particularly interested, because, sheltered and pampered as they may have been, they're old enough to know who they're dealing with. If nothing else, they have their mother Ivana's example to ponder.
All of which leaves us here, as shown by Clay Bennett.
And, of course, even the release of Mueller's report will yield a chorus of "Did Not!" and "Fake News!" from Trump loyalists. One question is how many of them there really are.
If you take out the ones who were simply voting against Hillary, the ones who expected him to lose but wanted a strong showing to shake up the system and those who wanted him at the time but have since recanted, it may not be a huge number.
Another question is how much do his allies in Congress have invested in retaining power, and how far are they willing to dive into muck in order to preserve it?
Again, the mid-term elections will tell the story and perhaps moreso than anything Mueller reveals, in a world in which nobody knows what truth is anymore.
Meanwhile, in lieu of a musical moment of zen,
here's a podcast of yesterdays 1A radio show in which Rob Rogers, Ann Telnaes, Pat Bagley and Scott Stantis had a 47 minute discussion of editorial cartooning in the current atmosphere. 1A is one of the brighter new shows at NPR and it's worth a listen.