Bob Franken

Washington Post Ragtime

June 26, 2008
The Washington Post Ragtime (Bob Franken)
@ 11:29 am

So much has been said about the often harsh and mindless tone of a blog-driven campaign. But for the most recent example of political hysteria, we need look no further than the mainstream media.

I am referring to the editorial cartoon in today’s Washington Post, that ” main-est” of mainstream.

Tom Toles, whose work I almost always admire, has drawn a building representing “Obama HQ.” Inside someone is saying, “So what are the chances of a terror attack before November?”

Outside, we see an aircraft about to fly into the building. That aircraft is a GOP elephant.

Without a doubt, the fight for the White House is bitter and intense — to put it mildly. But does it have to be so nuclear it wipes out any chance of governing?

Have we gotten to the point that one of the so-called “Newspapers of Record” has now sunk to likening the Republicans to the Sept. 11 terrorists? Did the various editorial managers who are supposed to vet this stuff before it appears in print decide it was appropriate and not over-the-top?

And have we now degenerated to the point that passions are so high there is only room in this campaign for nastiness that overwhelms everything else?

I can hear it now: Democrats will claim the Republicans started it, with their “Swift-Boating” and Ann Coulterish ugliness, where they paint Obama as a tool of the terrorists. A legitimate question is whether voters want to support the GOP as a party that has relied on such demagoguery to exploit the nation’s worst instincts.

But if both sides engage in the same hateful hyperbole, the voters would be within their rights to simply throw up their hands in disgust.

As for The Washington Post, it might want to consider its carefully crafted image as home for the “public’s right to know.” Even in these passionate times, we need to have SOME boundaries, so the public has SOMEWHERE to go as a refuge against the distortions and immature bombast that is hijacking our debate.

Barack Obama and the Democrats are not terrorists, no matter what the right-wing commentators say. But neither is John McCain, no matter what Tom Toles draws.

As I said, I have always admired the genius of political cartoonists like Toles. But I guess even geniuses can sometimes express themselves in stupid ways.

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