Friday, October 11, 2019

Graphic Grandeur (Plumbers Edition)

The above Doonesbury strip from May 29, 1973 stirred up a bit of controversy in its day (one of many, many Doonesbury strips to stir up controversy in its day.) Was cartoonist Garry Trudeau assigning guilt to former Attorney-General John Mitchell before he got his day in court? Trudeau said no, that he was merely satirizing the tendency of people like then-campus radical/student deejay Mark Slackmeyer to take premature delight in what was, after all, a failure in the democratic form of government. Eventually, Mitchell did get his day in court and was indeed found guilty, thus rendering the satirical intent of the above strip meaningless. Read today, Mark (and, possibly inadvertently, Trudeau) looks prophetic.

Not that Garry Trudeau was ever a Mitchell, or, more to the point, Nixon supporter. That's President Richard Milhous Nixon, Mitchell's boss, I'm referring to, in case you're somewhat foggy about the politics of nearly a half-century ago and are wondering if any of this has something to do with that one woman who was on Sex in the City. The male Nixon never got his day in court simply because he was pardoned of any potential wrongdoing by succeeding President Gerald Ford one day short of a month after he resigned in disgrace in 1974.

But did he remain in disgrace? Nixon died in 1994, and when he did,  the flags were lowered on all government buildings, public employees were given the day off, the funeral was televised, and viewers at home got to see and hear a twenty-one gun salute while military jets flew overhead. The whole shebang. Nary a word was mentioned about the late President's fall from grace, certainly not by the then President, one Bill Clinton, who chose only to allude to the Watergate scandal that brought the man once referred to as Tricky Dick down by referring to it as "controversial". Just like the Doonesbury strip! Trudeau took note of all the redemption going on by revising his "Guilty, guilty, guilty" panel of 21 years earlier: 

Well, that was 24 years ago. There's someone else in the Oval Office these days, and the now white-haired Mark Slackmeyer has to figure out what to make of him. Here's a strip from about two years ago concerning a new presidential scandal that to this day hasn't yet played itself out:

How about that? A topical joke from 1973 yields timeless comedy. Unless you're doing time, in which case you may not find it so funny.

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