By Jay Hansen
I’ve seen my fair share of dumb political cartoons on the internet. I don’t mean dumb as in I disagree with the logic in the message behind it, but dumb as in it doesn’t even make sense. Last week I saw one that officially took the cake for dumb political cartoons, and I just wanted to share it with you, as well as my thought process as I read it, because it was shockingly… dumb. I first read it before blowing it up to full size as it was on my phone so it was a bit blurry. I couldn’t see that the character in the corner was supposed to be Obama (which is a guess even after seeing the blown up version) and made a few minor misreads (which I’ll point out as I go along). It was completely nonsensical and had downright paradoxical messaging. I could think of a hundred different ways to explain just how confounded it left me, but instead I’ll just get right down to it.
Here’s the cartoon:
Initial thought: “Oh, a Dr. Seuss political cartoon! This should be cute.”
First line: I do not like this Uncle Sam
Me: “Wait, are you saying you don’t like Uncle Sam? Or did you mean to put a comma in there? A comma would imply you are addressing Uncle Sam saying you don’t like something (making it read “I do not like this, Uncle Sam”). Well, whatever, not important.”
Second line: I do not like his health care scam (I read: I do not like this health care scam, since Seuss was a master of repetition and “this” was used in the previous line)
Me: “Ah, it’s about the health care industry. They scam people all the time with things like recission, gender discrimination by charging women more, disproportionately spending money on actual medical care as opposed to company revenues, and of course pre-existing conditions every day. Thank God we got the Affordable Care Act to stop all of that. I just hope it makes it to 2014.”
Third and Fourth lines: I do not like these dirty crooks, or how they lie and cook the books.
Me: “We still talking about health care? Sounds like it, especially how the Affordable Care Act will actually force insurance companies to spend a minimum of 80% of people’s premium dollars on actual health care. They may not be talking about just health care any more though…”
Fifth and sixth lines: I do not like when Congress steals, I do not like their secret deals.
Me: “Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Representatives in Congress make secret deals with lobbyists and special interest, otherwise known as their donors, all the time at the expense of the American people. Our tax dollars are taken and used to fill the gaps left by huge tax cuts for the wealthy and useless, over-bloated defense spending. Republicans live to defend this system, as it is they who propose cuts that hurt the middle and lower class whilst giving more tax cuts to the rich and corporations. They are the ones rooting for more defense spending when it is inarguably the largest part of the budget. Hell, they are even opposed to the DISCLOSE Act, which does nothing to stop donors from bribing politicians (i.e. giving them campaign donations) it just requires we know who is funding and endorsing which candidate… like NASCAR racing jackets covered in sponsors.”
Seventh line: I do not like ex-speaker Nan
Me: “… wait, what? I’m guessing they’re referring to Nancy Pelosi? But… this cartoon is such a liberal one. She’s not even in a position of real power any more. Maybe… maybe they mean someone else? Somehow?”
Eighth line: I do not like this ‘YES, WE CAN!’
Me: “So… this is a Republican cartoon? But… the Republicans are INARGUABLY the ones protecting Congress’ ‘secret deals, they’re stopping any attempts to get secret deals under control! They’re the ones pushing for more and more tax cuts that shift the burden of the federal budget to the middle class, especially when compounded with spending cuts which… OH YES, the REPUBLICANS support! And just what part of the Affordable Care Act is a ‘scam?’ The part that says insurance companies have to actually spend a minimum amount of their client’s premium’s on medical care? Or the part that prevents gender discrimination? Or maybe it’s the whole pre-existing conditions thing? Just what part, could someone PLEASE TELL ME, of health care reform, is a SCAM against clients? The entire purpose of the legislation, which includes a little part called the Patient’s Bill of Rights, is to STOP scams in the health care insurance industry!”
Ninth line: I do not like this spending spree.
Me: “Oh okay, you’re just an uninformed idiot. The only spending spree that’s happened recently was that of George W. Bush who took a $3 billion surplus and turned it into trillions of dollars in deficit, while President Obama oversaw the lowest annual increase in spending of any president in the past 60 years. When adjusted for inflation, he has actually reduced spending since taking office. So once again, you say you ‘do not like’ something for which Republicans are responsible, and yet you blame the Democrats. Their propaganda’s just got you all stringed up like a good little puppet, haven’t they?”
Tenth line: I’m smart; I know that nothing’s free.
Me: “You mean like the tax cuts Republicans keep supporting? Like the trillions of dollars in tax cuts Romney is supporting? Those aren’t free either, and do virtually nothing to stimulate the economy, especially given how much money the wealthy already have in America. You can’t run an economy when only the upper 5% or so are spending money. You can’t run an economy when massive majorities of consumers can’t afford to consume! At least Obama’s stimulus actually… well, stimulates, by giving more money to the middle and lower classes.”
Eleventh and twelfth lines: I do not like your smug replies, when we complain about your lies.
Me: “There’s a difference between lies and batshit crazy conspiracy theories, like Obama is a Kenyan, or a Muslim, or a Communist. I’d like to see some of the things you consider facts for these fine points you’ve already brought up. You know who lies? Republicans. Clearly, if they’ve got you thinking they’re the ones pushing for transparency, consumer protections, and ending corruption, it’s almost impossible to say they aren’t.”
Thirteenth and fourteenth lines: I do not like this kind of hope. I do not like it — nope, nope, nope!
Me: “Well… you may have something there. Obama is kind of the definition of false hope. I mean, he’s had three and a half years to clean up Washington by way of campaign finance, and he hasn’t even tried, just like he hasn’t tried much of anything to stop global warming, or end the Bush-era tax cuts for which most of his base initially supported him. Of course, that’s only a reason for Democrats to not like Obama’s ‘hope.’ It’s actually good reason for Republicans to like him a lot… man, this cartoon is confusing me.”
Fifteenth line: Go Green – recycle the White House!
Me: “Okay, WHAT THE FUCK?! Could someone explain what the hell just happened in this cartoon? Going green means turning towards environmentalism and new energy like solar and wind; two things that Republicans vehemently oppose. And yet, this cartoon, which seems to be Republican nearest I can tell, is telling people voting Republican makes them ‘green?’ Now I know, it’s probably supposed to be a play on words of sorts, but that’s a very confusing one. It’s encouraging people that voting Republican makes them ‘green,’ but those that are opposed to going green are the ones that want to vote Republican. It’s kind of an insult and disincentive to Republican voters by telling them that voting for Romney will make them ‘green.’ Obama is the green candidate, and yet kicking him out will make the White House more environmentally friendly? The same is true for corruption; voting for Republicans will make it easier for politicians to be bought, and make it easier for them to make secret deals. That much is inarguable based on their own party beliefs and votes! I just… I don’t even know what to say at this point…”
And yeah, that’s about it. See what I mean now? This cartoon just got under my skin not because I disagree with it but because it was just dumb, nonsensical, and riddled with mixed messages. It’s not just an insult to Dr. Seuss, but an insult to just political cartoons in general. Of course, I should have picked up on just how mind-numbingly bass-ackwards this cartoon would be as soon as I noticed it was a Republican one, because I first saw it posted by someone of the LGBT community.
LGBT Republicans? Well, at least that explains why it makes no damn sense at all. That’s one very, very… special… group of voters.