Cartoon Violence Could Go Either Way

Each week, the Comics Curmudgeon helps explain Today's Cartoons.

America -- or Iowa, anyway -- has spoken! Our president for the next four years will be Michael Hussein Huckobamabee. At last, clarity! At last, an end to the endless campaigning and speechifying and bickering and ads on the teevee and ... such! Now that the brave and hardy few have trumped through the snow to make our decision for us, the rest of us can get back to the really important decisions, like: Seriously, what the hell is going on these political cartoons? They are quite puzzling!

This week in Cartoon Violence, we bring you five cartoons that could mean more than one thing! Since you don't get to vote for president anymore, cast your vote (in your mind only, please) for one of the possible interpretations of each:

Is that: Santa/the U.S. economy as some sort of horrifying air-filled Golem, given an awful parody of life by a plastic tube running from a pump into his unfathomable insides?

Or is that: A sinister terrorist with an old-timey detonator/plunger planning to blow up Santa, the most precious, holy symbol of all that is good in this greatest country in the world?

We vote for: Interpretation two. We accept a little sartorial insouciance from our academic types that wouldn't be acceptable in normal political leaders. But Ben Bernanke has a beard, people! A beard! He's obviously an Al Qaeda plant whose radical interest-rate tweaks are going to finish the job that Mohammed Atta started! Run, Santa! Run as far as your fat legs can carry you!

Is it: That beneath Dick Cheney's casual, hands-in-pocket demeanor, he's really a tightly wound ticking time bomb of rage?

Or is it: That the Cheney-Bot 6000 is running dangerously low on the blood of virgins and endangered condors that it uses for coolant, and its internal mechanisms are becoming dangerously overheated?

We vote for: Interpretation one, just because the second one seems way too obvious and pedestrian. Either way, we appreciate the image of a bored, aimless George Bush, forgotten by just about everybody, wandering around the White House and testing his various crackpot theories by putting food onto the heads of whomever he encounters.

Is that: A really terribly drawn likeness of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, idly yo-yoing behind Nancy Pelosi?

Or is that: A really rather well-drawn likeness of Lyndon B. Johnson, idly yo-yoing behind Nancy Pelosi?

We vote for: Interpretation two. What could be more poignant than the vision of LBJ's hangdog ghost haunting the corridors of the Capitol, using equal parts persuasion and strong-arm tactics to pass legislation of his choosing from beyond the grave? As to why his ghostly specter would be manifesting itself on the House side, not in the Senate where he reigned for so many years -- well, would you want to spend the afterlife hanging around with Harry Reid? Dude seems pretty depressing, even if you're dead.

Is it: That George W. Bush, in a desperate, heroic effort to balance the budget before his term is out, is accepting sponsorship for his podiums while he makes speeches, and the first check came from Yak-A-Doos Restaurant in Fredericksburg, VA (on Warrenton Road, in the Holiday Inn North)?

Or is it: That the Bush team, liberated by the media's Campaign 2008 coverage from having to do anything, is indulging their sense of whimsical absurdism by just plastering nonsense syllables around the president as he gives speeches?

We vote for: Interpretation two, obviously. Hopefully every Bush press conference will devolved into nonsensical Dadaist performance art involving fish, collages, and angry repudiations of accepted scientific views of climate change.

Is it: That in South Korea (point of origin for this cartoon), adorable little mice traditionally emerge from their holes on January 1, holding in their super-cute tiny snouts the single word that will set the tone for the new year printed on a business card?

Or is it: That this cartoon, and by extension everyone who was involved in creating or reading it, is completely fucking nuts?

We vote for: Interpretation one. How can anything so cute be so crazy? Awwww, look at his whiskers! C'mere little recession mousy!


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