‘Thriving’ isn’t the word that comes to mind

Some people yell at the TV. I yell at press releases. Today I got this one, from a guy named Justin Lehmann:

It’s no secret that newspapers are having their clocks cleaned by digital, and now mobile, media in the past several years. But one form of newspaper content has not only survived, it’s thriving, and tomorrow is its anniversary: the editorial cartoon. On May 9, 1754, John Adams published the first editorial cartoon in the US in his Pennsylvania Gazette, the now infamous ‘Join or Die’ graphic. John Adam’s cartoon editorialized a political revolution. I would like to share with you a crop of cartoons that editorialize an IT revolution — the consumerization of IT — which has made managing a datacenter more ridiculous than ever. https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B3405IoeanmfODM5ZGY4ZWMtMThjMy00OTA3LWFlOTItNDRjMWU2ZWNkMDA5 Feel free to use the cartoons if you choose to write anything about the anniversary. They’re royalty free with this CC license: CA Technologies’ CHIEF & CHUCK is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at http://www.ca.com/cdit. Thanks!

As soon as I saw it, I shot back,

Thriving? You’re kidding, right? Every friend I have who was an editorial cartoonist has been laid off in recent years — Robert Ariail of The State (I, the editorial page editor, was laid off the same day). Richard Crowson of The Wichita Eagle. Bill Day of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

Yeah, I realize there are a few who still have jobs, but since every one that I knew personally is gone, it’s a bit hard to accept your “thriving” characterization…

Then, glancing at the release again, I added,

Oh, and by the way. It was Benjamin Franklin, not John Adams…

You know, the founder who was actually a newspaperman. As opposed to the lawyer. I have to say that Mr. Lehmann took it well, responding:

Damn. Game, set, and match.

21 thoughts on “‘Thriving’ isn’t the word that comes to mind

  1. bud

    Cartoonists are in the same category as GOP moderates, endangered. With Richard Lugar out in Indiana it gives the Democrats a shot at that normally red state. Won’t be a liberal Democrat though. Since liberals are largely extinct we’re stuck with two choices – conservative (Democrats) and extremely conservative (Republicans).

  2. Doug Ross

    What I find amusing is the whole meme that the Tea Party is some sort of fringe group. How many more elections do they have to influence before some people grasp that the rise of the Tea Party is in direct response to the increase in the size/role of government?

    It’s not a fringe group – it’s based on a core principle related to the beliefs about what government should and shouldn’t do.

  3. Brad

    Doug, it’s a fringe group, with aims and intentions just a bit more coherent than those of the Occupy movement.

    It’s just that it came along at a time when one of the two dominant parties was rocked back on its heels, and lacked direction. Because the GOP, which even when it’s in trouble commands can draw the support of close to half the electorate, has found itself turned in that direction doesn’t make it a mainstream movement. It just happens to be sitting astride the neck of a mainstream party, yanking its ears in one direction or another.

    If you insert a lever into just the right place and exert the right force on it, you can move a party. The Tea Party has been the right lever in the right place to move a major party for a time.

    That’s one of the problems with the country, actually. The most extreme of the extreme can muster the few percentage points to put a candidate over the top in a primary that was already a contest among the most committed people from one end of the political spectrum, as opposed to the general population.

    In short, this dynamic (a minority of a plurality being the deciding factor to put a candidate in position to win election by getting the resources of a party behind him) enables the tail to wag the dog. That doesn’t make the tail the dog. It’s still the tail.

  4. Brad

    It’s easy for a small minority to persuade itself that it’s the majority, if it’s able to have a disproportionate impact for a period of time.

    Look at how the Occupy movement, which directly involved far less than 1 percent of the population, managed to persuade itself that it was “the 99 percent.”

    Now don’t get me wrong — the Tea Party has had a MUCH greater impact than the Occupy movement, so we’re talking about a different of scale. But we’re still talking about a minority.

  5. Brad

    Exact numbers are unavailable, but I think it’s reasonable to surmise that there are more people still employed by the mainstream media than there were actual Occupiers.

    Which is pretty tiny.

  6. bud

    The Tea Party has certainly moved the GOP but it may be it’s own undoing. With Lugar out the Dems have a shot that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. I don’t see the Tea Party as mainstream but rather a fringe element that has scared the more traditional Republicans. It didn’t cost Romney but could cost a couple of senate seats. We can only hope.

  7. Silence

    Brad – while you may be correct that the actual number of “TEA partiers” is fairly small, I haven’t seen any numbers, recruitment materials or solicitations. Groups like the TEA party and Occupy form in response to voices that are not being heard (or listened to) and needs that are perceived as being unmet.
    I think the TEA party (Taxed Enough Already) formed at the grassroots level and there have been several attempts to co-opt it by outside interests. If voters were required to register with a party, and in a multi-party system, I think they might garner more support than some of the “mainstream” republican parties, hence several TEA affiliated candidates winning primaries against mainstream republicans. Granted, they may not be able to win a general election….

  8. bud

    Many of the lower income followers of the Tea Party are playing into the hands of those who favor policies that benefit only the wealthy. The Occupiers have attempted to counter those policies but so far have been unsuccessful. If the Tea Partiers had stuck to promoting less spending on largely unnecessary military/space/foreign aid AND tax policies that favor the LESS wealthy then they could have done themselves and the country some good. But as it has developed the organization is merely doing the bidding of a few at the expense of the many.

  9. Brad

    Bud, I don’t much like the Tea Party, but I don’t think that’s a fair characterization.

    Here’s my picture of a typical Tea Partier: White, male (although there are plenty of female TPer’s, if you make me pick a gender, I pick male), middle class, retired. The kind of guy with time on his hands to sit around resenting having to pay taxes. He has a nice folding camp chair that he otherwise carries to children’s and grandchildren’s ball games, and he takes that chair to TP rallies, getting there a couple of hours early to get a good spot, and sits there with his “Don’t Tread On Me” flag and a thermos of coffee at his feet, waiting for the moment when he can wave his flag in appreciation of lowest-common-denominator points made by a speaker who is there to curry his support.

    That, to me, is the Tea Party. He’s not some Monopoly-stereotype fat cat in a top hat scheming to exploit the workers. He’s a far more mundane, banal, ordinary figure than that.

  10. bud

    Brad you misunderstood me. Your characterization is correct. But those folks wouldn’t benefit from anything they are promoting. That’s the irony of it all.

  11. Mark Stewart

    The dominant party always self-destructs. The Republicans barely survived the Moral Majority, but it seems very unlikely that they will survive the tea partiers – who are really more like a mash-up of Libertarians and blue dog Democrats than anything resembling “the establishment”.

  12. Doug Ross

    So if the Tea Party candidate wins the Senate seat in Indiana, that doesn’t mean anything? If Romney beats Obama its going to be because of the Tea Party influence driving more people to the polls.

    If you win elections against the other party, you aren’t a fringe group, you’re the majority. Was Nikki Haley a Tea Party candidate or not? She won. If she claims the Tea Party as her base AND she wins the election (no matter what the margin), you can’t be called “fringe”.

    Wake me up when an Occupy candidate can even get 10% of the vote in a primary. Has there even been a candidate who embraces the Occupiers message like so many Tea Party candidates have? Occupy is fringe, Tea Party is a movement.

  13. Brad

    That’s not going to happen. The Occupy fringe is way fringier than the Tea Party.

    Average Joe and Josephine America can look at the average cranky white guy at a Tea Party function, sitting there in his nice sport shirt and slacks and Docksiders and Brokeback Mountain jacket, and see someone who looks kind of like them.

    They don’t see that when they look at Occupiers.

    Consequently, it makes it easier for a person who would never go to either kind of rally — who would see that as a sort of extremism that doesn’t appeal to him — to vote for a candidate who appeals to the Tea Party than for one who appeals to the Occupy movement. Much easier.

    Both movements express impulses that wide groups of people might share (simply put, mistrust of “bigness” — big gummint, big bidness, what have you). But if Mr. or Ms. Average is going to go from that to voting along with either movement, it’s going to be the TP movement.

  14. Mark Stewart

    Well, at least the Occupier’s come by their ideology honestly – and I’m saying that as someone who has been derisive of the blob. They have a fundinental honesty about their goal – it’s their protest focus that is so unfocused and pointless.

    However, I have never met a tea partier who isn’t basically on the dole. Except for the contractor types, they all seem to be i) retired or ii) work for either some level of government or large corporations. The disconnect between rhetoric and reality is simply striking.

  15. `Kathryn Fenner

    Um, working for government or a corporation is still working, not on the dole. I get your point, which is that there is a hypocrisy there, but….

  16. Mark Stewart


    Thanks for seeing through my language.

    If one receives – or is entitled to receive – SSI, disability, a pension, massively subsidized healthcare, etc. – then it is hard for outsiders not to choke on the hypocrisy of so many of the tea party platforms. It’s like do as I say and not as I do.

  17. Silence

    @ Mark – how is it hypocritical if someone receives a pension? Private industry has (fewer and fewer) pensions too. If it was in someone’s contract, and now they get it, I’m OK with that.

    I’m not a tea partier at all, but as a government contractor – if the federal gov’t truly wants to get smaller, I’d find something else to do. No problem.
    My father retired from being a CPA. I once asked him about tax reform, since so much of his business was doing individual’s tax returns. He said he’d find something else to do if they put him out of a job. Now I feel the same way.

  18. `Kathryn Fenner

    @Silence–It’s that the TP preach austerity for government, and by extension, government workers, while not practicing it themselves. There’s “fat” and “waste” everywhere–while many of those complaining are enjoying the very benefits they deplore giving to others.

  19. Silence

    @’Kathryn – I agree with you on that to some extent. A great example would be the TEA partiers or religious nutters who home school or private school their kids but want the public to pay for it.

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