Category Archives: cartoons

Iconography

UK cartoonist Steve Bells sketches and photos from the DNC

UK cartoonist Steve Bell's sketches and photos from the DNC

C-SPAN 2 replayed Ted Kennedy’s speech to the 1980 Democratic Convention the other night. Its a great speech which usually gets mentioned for not really conceding to Carter, for being really well read, and as a kind of last gasp of 60’s liberalism.

Kennedy does mention a few things for maybe the last time at a DNC:

  • Full employment
  • national health insurance
  • spending your way out of a recession

I haven’t heard anything but the excerpts of last night’s speech. I don’t know if he mentioned these things again. He did adapt the last lines of his speech “The work goes on, the hope continues, the dream shall never die” into “The work begins anew. The hope rises again, and the dream lives on.”

Passing the torch may ring true to the faithful in the hall and maybe inspire some sentimental votes. But the iconography is way outstripping the program specifics. In a way, the adulation is replacing a program, since there is no room for criticism there.

Full employment used to be a plank in the Democratic Party’s platform, back in 1972 and 1976. Aside from the Humphrey-Hawkins Act of 1978, which made full employment a goal there was never a coordinated push for it and Carter always opposed it. Though he signed the bill, first stagflation, then Carter’s appointment of Paul Volker to the Fed scuppered it. The subsequent election of Reagan took full employment off the table.

The healthcare plan Obama put forth in the primaries would actually cover fewer people than the Clinton plan. Clinton wasn’t proposing national health insurance either, but at least it would have mandated some kind of coverage.

We are entering a recession and inflation looks set to make a comeback, but won’t hear any specifics about what the Democrats will do differently from a McCain administration. Ben Bernanke will stay. The tools contemplated are the same for either party. Only the Greens, Nader and the Socialist Party, USA would talk about the New Deal as a possible model.

What we will get is a new iconography. As this Guardian video shows, Obama supporters are already celebrating the inspirational nature of the campaign. The comparison with Kennedy are natural, pictorially. The specifics are not there. That may give his supporters less to be disappointed in, but its no reason to vote.

DNC art exhibit Manifest Hope

DNC art exhibit "Manifest Hope"

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The Notes of Japanese Soldier in USSR

Kiuchi Nobuo was a Japanese air corps soldier captured by the Soviet Army at the end of World War II.  Nobuou has drawn a series of postcard-like cartoons recounting his experiences as a P.O.W.   Life in a Siberian prison camp was extremely hard, no surprise, but he did live in more pleasant places and recounts tolerable, bittersweet and even seemingly enjoyable experiences.

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