The Anniversary of Watergate
Can we kick around Nixon for the 50th anniversary?
I don’t know about you, but I am not real interested in the news lately. It might be the nice weather, or it might be burnout—I’m not sure. The January 6th hearings are coming up this week, and I will be paying attention. My hope is that the hearings lead to something significant, but it’s hard to predict.
The anniversary of the Watergate break-in is coming up on June 17th, 1972. I can’t say I remember that date, and I don’t believe it was a large news item at the time. It became one, of course. I was a junior in high school in Washington, DC , and probably had just finished the school year. That summer was the summer I went backpacking in Wyoming with NOLS, an Outward Bound like program; my interests were more in the outdoors and drawing, not politics. Many of my classmates were about to intern on Capitol Hill, and there were some children of the Nixon Administration in my school.
I was aware of political cartoons of course, mostly Herblock of the Washington Post and Garry Trudeau who created Doonesbury. My sights were set on The New Yorker, because I became aware that they published political cartoons, only the cartoons were a little milder or only obliquely referenced politics. That appealed to me.
This was my first political cartoon for The New Yorker, published in 1984. I was thrilled. It is referring the Presidential election and Walter Mondale, who was running for office. I liked Mondale, particularly since he selected a woman as his running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, very bold of him for the time. But many found him less than charismatic, and that’s what my cartoon is about. People voted for him (although of course he lost), but it was almost like they really didn’t have interest in it.
My next one was more cultural, and about how New York was a bit dangerous at the time. This cartoon has a whole extra layer of meaning today….there were not mass shootings when I drew this, at least not many.
The New Yorker isn’t buying many political cartoons at all anymore. For a while, they were buying some from others for the Daily Cartoon, which is only online. I’m sad about that, because there were so many great practitioners when I started at the magazine, and whose ideas influenced me a lot— Dana Fradon and James Stevenson to name two giants. They were so skilled at taking political ideas and putting them into visual metaphors.
The above is a personal favorite, from 1994. I am referencing Vice President Dan Quayle, whom everyone loved to make fun of—I can’t remember why I wrote this cartoon, however. Perhaps we thought Quayle was going away but then he didn’t. The “kick around” phrase is taken from Nixon’s quote to the press, “you’re not going to have Nixon to kick around anymore,” in 1962, after 16 years in politics. Little did we know (and did he?) that he would come back bigtime, and fall bigtime.
That’s the closest I came to drawing a cartoon about Nixon! Maybe I’ll do one for the anniverary of the Watergate Break-in…..
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