I’m a great lover of political cartoons and political cartooning, of all stripes. Great truths sneak out of the pens that produce stunned laughter in a reader (viewer), I think, especially when they stun me into a new realization.
Political cartooning stumbles along through hard times. Where once upon a time a major U.S. city, like St. Louis, would have three or more daily newspapers, each of which would employ more than one cartoonist, the newspapers themselves disappear (more slowly this year, but no new ones have been birthed, either), and those few surviving newspapers try to get along with one or fewer political cartoonists, and they even reduce the number of syndicated cartoons.
Where U.S. history teachers revel in the glorious images and humor of Thomas Nast (even though he was a Republican sympathizer), Thomas Keppler, Berryman, Ding Darling, Herblock, Bill Mauldin, and other bright cartoonists of the 19th and 20th centuries, Daryl Cagle has gallantly tried to preserve the profession and the art, with a group that spreads cartoons of a lot of cartoonists employed by papers or free-lancing.
I subscribe to the electronic newsletter of Cagle Cartoons. I’ve found their processes for getting approval not to work well for me (or work at all — I have yet to get any response on any cartoon I’ve asked them about). But I hope cartoonists like the brilliant Sherffius, or Calvin Grondahl from my almost-native Utah, get enough additional exposure to make them comfortable and keep the cartooning.
Lately I’ve been despairing. Cagle added columns by cartoonists and others. Most of that material tends toward hard conservatism, I find, and lack of reportorial and intellectual rigor.
Like this piece of guano from a reporter named Phil Brennan. Oh, we should have expected it to be lightweight, his being a regular contributor to the disinformation source NewsMax.
Brennan argues that birthers should give up on their challenges to Obama’s eligibility, because of the chaos that would be caused were Obama to be replaced by John McCain so far into an administration. (Yeah — just hold on. I know.) All the laws Obama signed would be nullified, Brennan wrote, all his appointments nullifed, and the slate wiped clean for McCain and Palin to occupy the White House. Obama’s defended his birth in a U.S. territory successfully so far, so birthers should give up trying for change.
Just for a moment, imagine that the Court does its job and it turns out that Obama can’t come up with a legitimate birth certificate showing that he was indeed born on U.S. soil in what was then the territory of Hawaii, and the Court declares that he is therefore ineligible to serve as the nation’s chief executive.
Should that be the case nothing that he has done, no appointments that he has made nor executive orders he issued would be valid. And under the provisions of the Constitution, John McCain would be declared the legitimate President of the United States and Sarah Palin the Vice President starting with Inauguration Day, 2009.
It might cause a civil war, Brennan says.
Mr. Brennan: I know the U.S. Constitution. I’ve read the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution is a friend of mine. What you describe is not in the Constitution, and doesn’t bear any resemblance to reality.
A couple of fact checking issues here:
1. Hawaii was a state in 1961, not a territory. Hawaii became a state in August 1959.
2. Under the Constitution and federal laws on succession, if the person at the top of the ticket becomes ineligible to serve, the person next in line in succession becomes president. Were Obama declared ineligible, we’d have President Joe Biden.
3. There is no provision to nullify laws and directives of a federal officer later found ineligible for the office. Under pretty well-established law, all of those actions stand unless repealed later. Congressional actions, especially, would not be rolled back. All appointments stand.
4. Obama has already provided unassailable proof of his birth. Under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, all states and the federal government must honor official actions of the states. Hawaii issued, under seal, a document verifying that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu in 1961. “Under seal” is the highest authority we can give a document under statutory and common law — it’s got more than 800 years of precedent behind it. The only possible way to get at a document under seal is to provide clear and convincing evidence of fraud on the state. There is no showing of any fraud that stands up in court, under Hawaii or federal rules of evidence.
In short, almost everything stated as fact for the premises of that piece, is fiction.
Bad enough that joints like the Discovery Institute, NewsMax, the Washington Times and others have fired all their fact checkers — but shouldn’t a high school-educated person know better? Is there no editing at Cagle Cartoons at all?