Some Republicans will say that part of the reason Barack Obama trounced John McCain in Tuesday's election was the media's obvious bias in favor of Obama.
While I saw very little evidence of news media favoring Obama at McCain's expense, I don't doubt that the individual reporters were rooting for the Democrat this time out.
The McCain campaign probably made them feel weird, as it likely made anyone who watched McCain's last run for the Whitehouse feel weird. Here was this affable old guy they used to like, a beloved uncle figure, making a fool of himself in public on a daily basis for the better part of a year, systematically and transparently reversing himself on position after position and statement after statement in order to win an election, no matter what the cost to his own reputation, his party, or his country.
If he won, America would have just one more old, white, warmongering plutocrat as a its new president, plus its first female vice president, which would have been sorta historic, but the fact that she wasn't ready to appear on Meet The Press, let alone ready to be president, probably squashed many folks' enthusiasm for her to be a heartbeat or cancer relapse away from the presidency.
But if Obama won? America would have its first black president, and, well, you've seen what a tremendous storyline that is in the days since Tuesday...it's given those in the media a lot to say, words that were potentially of import not just to their readers and viewers and listeners, but to American history itself. Surely that's gotta be a little incentive to want to root for a guy, right? (It's probably also worth noting that the McCain campaign openly campaigned against the media from the time of Obama's trip overseas on, to the point where their scary rally attendees were booing the media in the last weeks. McCain/Palin are lucky the media even wanted to talk about, let alone to, them by late October).
It wasn't just network news desk jockeys, newspaper-people, columnist and commentators who had the opportunity to take part in history with Obama's election; so too did political cartoonists, who had to be hyper-aware that the panels they were drawing in the hours after the election was called for Obama were likely to be their biggest and most important ones since their 9/11 cartoons.
I was pretty eager to see how they would rise and/or fall to the occasion, so I spent some time searching Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoon Index and Slate.com's Today's Cartoons on Wednesday and Thursday for "Obama Wins!" cartoons.
Let's take a look together, shall we?
Ha ha, our knight in shining armor Barack Obama has slain the horrible monster that is John McCain, a hideous, bleached old man head perched atop a dragon's body. Or is that a dinosaur's body, meant to signify that not only is McCain a monster, but he is also old and of another, past age?
A pretty strong statement either way. I wonder if cartoonist Daryl Cagle had a McCain one ready to go in case McCain won, and if it featured McCain in a suit of armor, sitting atop the corpse of a vanquished Obama dragonsaurus, or if it featured the McCain monster having killed the Obama knight...?
I...what? What is... I can't even... Huh.
Well, this is by Rainer Hachfeld of Germany, and well, maybe the humor is so German it doesn't quite translate...?
Let's just move on...
You know who this election probably mattered most to? President Abraham Lincoln. That guy would have just been reacting left and right to this election, if he were alive today...or if his giant, stone form seated in the Lincoln Memorial could communicate his thoughts to us. Which, through the magic of political cartoons, it can! Let's look at a few of the several thousand cartoons dealing with the Lincoln Memorial's take on the historic election of Barack Obama now.
The Lincoln Memorial is so happy about the results that he/it is beaming with joy and, perhaps, pride. Jeff Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune helpfully includes the date prominently in the image, to provide context should someone encounter this on a day that isn't the day after Obama's electoral victory. See, what'd I tell you? Cartoonists are thinking ahead to how history will judge their work on this day.
Here's Lincoln, a long-time Obama/Biden supporter, reacting to the news the same way so many people did: By weeping. What a pussy.
Having won the grueling, hard-fought battle against his opponent John McCain, Obama (or his stunt double?) declares victory, while it's up to the Lincoln Memorial to decide the vanquished McCain's fate. Is he to be put out of his misery, or spared in honor of his valor? Emperor Lincoln gives him the thumbs up; McCain is spared.
Here's Clay Jones of Fredricksburg's Freelance-Star's Lincoln reaction, and it appears our greatest giant stone president is being...lewd, I guess. He opens his legs wide to show someone with giant ears—presumably President-elect Obama, but perhaps current president Bush—his glowing crotch. The spectator seems stunned by the sight, and Lincoln wears a slightly embarrassed, goofy-grin. This Lincoln definitely seems to be out of his log cabin, if you know what I mean.
At least this Lincoln is a little more lady-like, and has crossed his legs. If that is Lincoln. It doesn't much look like him, does it? Whoever he is, he's keeping his thoughts about Obama's victory to himself, but it's clearly made him think.
He's spread his legs wide, he's crossed them demurely, and now he's finally gotten up and left his chair. Why can't the Lincoln Memorial sit still?
In the Orlando Sentinel's Dana Summer's cartoon, Lincoln has gone to Chicago, where Barack Obama gave his victory speech on Tuesday night, and he hasn't come back yet.
What did Abe go there for? To cheer Obama on? Or to stop him? I don't know, but Cartoon Curmudgeon Josh Fruhlinger has an interesting theory.
Oh, he's back from Chicago. And so is Obama. I guess the Lincoln Memorial is just kinda stalking Obama, now?
Here Lincoln seems pretty pissed off about Obama's victory, or is he just pissed off at the way Obama's strolling around the mall with a stupid grin on his face, showing off the headline of the day? Cartoonist Glenn McCoy's Lincoln iss definitely wearing an unhappy expression, and his thought bubble seems pretty negative.
To be honest, I don't even get this one. Is the joke that Obama sucks, but he fooled everyone into thinking he's awesome, and that's why he won? Because as significant as his victory was in terms of both electoral votes and actual voter votes, it wasn't a shut out, or, popular vote-wise, even a landslide. So clearly he didn't fool all of the people, just some of them.
So what's this Lincoln thinking about, anyway? And what's up the Lincoln Memorial's ass in this cartoon? Maybe some of the other Lincolns oughta talk to him.
Here he's expressing incredulity. He can't quite believe it at first. Is he happy? Chagrined? I can't tell. He's smiling, but it seems like an awkward, nervous smile.
You can click on the link above for several more cartoons featuring Lincoln's reaction to Obama's election.
I really like this one. I don't know that we need the "MLK" label there—surely King's visage is just as, if not way more, familiar than Obama's is—but it's a nice drawing of both men, and the giving of daps. It's great having a president who can give and receive daps, isn't it?
Pairing Obama with Martin Luther King was almost as popular a strategy as pairing him with Lincoln. This is a political cartoon that is more sober and symbolic than funny (As were a lot of the day after 'toons, few of which I've actually included here).
I was really struck here by how similar to Bush Obama looks. Not in real life, of course, but in this cartoon by Thomas Boldt of the Calgary Sun—and in plenty of other political cartoons. They both share the same most caricature-able feature—their big ears—and both dress the same, so I suppose its not surprise that a lot of cartoonists' Obama look a lot like their Bushes. If this were black and white, it would really look a lot like Bush with a more prominent chin being lifted atop the pedestal of history by MLK.
Another Obama/MLK cartoon, and another cartoon in which Obama looks like he could just as easily be Bush, this one by Henry Payne of the Detroit News. Of course, we can't see Obama's face here, so it's only his ears that identify him. Well, his ears, and the piece of paper with his name on it that he's carrying. I wonder what that is? A folder full of very important documents, that Michelle wrote his name on, so one of the girls wouldn't accidentally take it to school with them, and he wouldn't accidentally bring their spelling homework to a big meeting with his economic advisors?
Apparently unsure of which historical figure would be most excited about the Obama victory, King or Lincoln, Chris Britt of Springfield, IL's State-Journal Register went with both. Here they are jumping and high-fiving each other. Daps would have been funnier.
The labeling strategy employed here kind of confuses me. MLK is labeled "MLK," so readers who might not have ever seen a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. will know who he is. But Lincoln is wearing a pin marked Obama, apparently because he was an Obama supporter (Just like Colin Powell, Lincoln's apparently a Republican who was rooting for the Democratic candidate this year), but under normal circumstances, characters in political cartoons would only wear pins with their own names on them, and that, clearly, isn't Obama.
Regarding Obama's similarities to Bush, the best way to distinguish Bush from Obama isn't the latter's chin and hair (although Indianapolis Star-News cartoonist Gary Varvel explodes the chin a bit here too), but in Obama's long, gangly frame and limbs. Obama seems like a pretty fun subject for political cartoonists, as it's not just his face that gives them material to work with, but his whole body.
Bill should really have at least a jacket on, shouldn't he? For warmth as much as any sartorial concerns; late January in D.C. is going to be pretty cold, isn't it? Or is one of Obama's many super-powers weather control?
You know who else had a long, gangly frame and limbs? Jack Skellington of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which the Pittsburgh Tribute-Review's Randy Bish is alluding to in this pretty weak carton. His Obama's not even all that Skellingtonal, and I'm afraid I don't quite get it. Obama's election is a "nightmare?" Why? Or is it just so obvious that there's no need to explain it? And November 5th was almost two months before Christmas, so it is therefore a nightmare before Christmas...? Kind of a stretch.
Speaking of nightmares, check out Damien Glez's horrifying cartoon. There are eagle talons projecting out of the sides of Obama's face! Gah!
To end on a less scary note, here are two I liked a whole lot, which I found on other comics blogs. Here's Patrick Moberg's beautiful image, which is also a powerful but elegant underliner of the significance of Obama's victory (link discovered at Tom Spurgeon's Comicsreporter.com). And here's a superhero-fueled Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida, chronicling what I can only hope is Obama's first meeting with his new cabinet (link from Johanna Draper Carlson's Comicsworthreading).