January 19, 2018
Art, politics, angels, demons . . . and righteous dogs.


For the cover of this week’s National Journal editor Ron Brownstein and art director Jan Zimmeck wanted a piece that reflected the fact that Obama was floating higher in the polls than his economic numbers might warrant. The event last night, however, may end up being called the Great Deflate. We will have to see. Clearly, Obama, had a different concept of what was needed in Denver. I think I can tell him: CAFFEIN!

Anyway, sketches:

Here I was thinking of the movie Being There and that Margritte-like poster.

Then a walk-on-water concept but with warring factions below.

A Macy’s balloon idea (an old metaphor for me).

Ron and Jan liked this idea so we kept going with it. Here he’s affecting a kind of Bugs Bunny-like aplomb.

This one connected with everybody.

And so, the final. Thanks for the NatJo for the support and freedom. I think it was my favorite sketch too. And as for Obama, he just might have to start pumping those legs!


  1. ALEX MCCRAE says:

    Hi Steve,

    Superb cover piece, there, Steve, although as you pointed out, last evening’s stinker (for Obama) of a first televised debate kind of made your ‘illo’, and the National Journal cover article, inside the mag, perhaps a bit moot.

    I get your point w/ your now de facto “caffein” recommendation, but I don’t think even a brew of Mountain Dew, Red Bull, and 5-Hour Energy could have invigorated what was clearly an unexpected, thoroughly milguetoast, sadly disappointing debate ‘performance’ by our President.

    If Obama, in your cover piece, is indeed, meant to be mimicking a giant Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloon, floating nonchalantly, almost imperiously above the fray, then one could fairly say that the great flip-flopper extraordinaire, the wily Mitt Romney, definitely rained, big-time, on Barack’s parade last evening in that clearly one-side debate. ( Most of the aprês-debate polls just crucified Obama and made Romney look like his mojo was back.)

    As much as it was a sweet, thoughtful, and sincere opening gesture, I felt that Baracks’s 20th anniversary shout-out to Michelle was ill-timed, and frankly, a waste of valuable debate time. He should have hit hard from the outset and put Romney immediately on the defensive, but instead he chose not too; which for me got things off on a weak tack for Obama.( Hmm…. i could be wrong on that point, but I’m sticking to it.)

    I believe Obama has to quickly circle the wagons before this next televised tête-à-tête w/ Romney; perhaps recruiting former President Clinton to offer some sound tactical debating advice. Next time out, Obama definitely has to call Romney out on some of his fuzzy, non-specific, proposed measures he would implement if elected, plus generally be more engaged and more in Romney’s face. (I felt Obama looked out , to much, at the live arena audience (and directly at the camera) when he spoke, and would annoyingly, often look down at his lectern when his opponent was addressing him.)

    However, this next meeting is going to have Wolf Blitzer from CNN as the host; the area of focus will be on U.S. foreign relations, I believe; and it will have a town-hall procedural format.

    On how could we forget that town-hall debate fiasco w/ candidate John McCain back in 2008, w/ his seeming meandering, stumbling gait, throughout; giving the viewers the impression he was a doddering old fool. I doubt the Mitt-ster is going to look the fool in this one. It will be interesting to see how both Mitt and Barack comport themselves on stage.

    Hopefully Wolf Blitzer will use some tact ,and reserve in conducting the proceedings. He can be quite the ego-tripper at times, as the veteran leader of quote, “The best darn news-team in television.” And he always let’s you know it, too.

    Incidently, i felt moderator Jim Lehrer, last evening, was slightly off his usual fairly sharp game, and let Romney almost bully him into allowing more rebuttal, or speech time. I think perhaps PBS’s Gwen Efel may have been a better choice for moderator in this first debate, but the Romney camp would likely grouse vociferously that Obama would have had an unfair advantage w/ her hosting, since she’s 1) African American and 2) she wrote a rather flattering non-fiction book on Obama’s rise to the presidency some years back. Oh those narrow-minded GOP-ers. HA!

    Anyhoo, I managed to ramble on a streak here. I do appreciate you being out there, every day on the political front lines, calin’ them, (and drawin’ them) as you sees ’em, Steve.

    Like a fine Chianti, you just get finer, and more robust w/ age.

    Salut !

  2. SB says:

    As usual a reasoned and concise observation. I don’t think anybody has a clean eplanation of Obama’s bizarre performance. Today in Wisconsin he came out swinging. Okay but why now? If he loses, it will be because of this. And we can kiss this democracy goodbye. I’d hate him if I didn’t hate the Willard so much more. I hate to hate so much. But it is our lot, alas.

  3. ALEX MCCRAE says:


    Frankly, i find it very difficult, slightly disheartening, and against my own ‘grain’ to have to point out Obama’s most recent debating shortcomings, and comment, negatively, on his “bizarre performance”, as you so aptly put it, Steve,.

    As a (legal) resident alien, and non-eligible voter, I really have no dog in this current political fight. But I still believe Obama’s all-inclusive vision of how we can get America back on track on every level, and begin to rejuvenate the hurting (and disappearing) middle-class, is the right, most democratic course of action, going forward.

    If the GOP, and Romney & Co. were to somehow win the day come election day, Nov. 6th, I’m afeared we are in deep doo-doo, and our future as a nation will become even more radically polarized, politically, but more critically, social strata-wise. The few super affluent ‘haves’ versus the majority of mostly struggling ‘have-nots’ scenario. A grim future, indeed.

    However, as you may recall, Steve, an eerily similar scenario went down w/ the initial debate between Senator John Kerry, the Dems’ presidential aspirant in 2004, and the then-incumbent president George Dubya, w/ Kerry clearly making Bush look like the flustered pol-out-of-water that he really was. Kerry won that first encounter, handily.

    However, Karl “Bush’s Brain” Rove & Co. quickly sprung into action, and re-schemed their attack mode, managing to right the foundering GOP ship, along w/ a big partisan assist from those swift-boat veteran ‘truth-tellers’ (?), who did a real number on Kerry in doggedly besmirching, and questioning his military service record in Nam. And as they say, the rest is history, as Kerry’s chances for victory were majorly thwarted, and we sadly got four more years of Bush’s bull-crap antics.

    Hopefully the political tide WILL turn in Obama’s favor, going forward. But he has to work his butt off, to make it all happen.

    I’m just hoping the upcoming lone vice-presidential debate between Biden and Ryan doesn’t become a rout for the GOP numbers-juggler from small-town Wisconsin, Ryan, and that wily veteran pol, Joe B., doesn’t have one-too-many on-camera deer-in-the-headlights moments, or foot-in-mouth clear blunders.

    With Biden’s propensity to often ‘shoot-from-the-lip’ and ask questions later, I hope he’s well prepped for this debate, and doesn’t allow the younger Ryan to take the early initiative. Biden definitely has the in-the-political-trenches vast experience advantage over his younger debating adversary. Yet Ryan, admittedly, started in politics at a relatively young age (his mid-twenties, i think), so it’s not that he’s all wet behind the ears, adn will be a push-over.

    We shall soon see.

    IMHO, a poor Biden debate showing could really put the Obama/ Biden re-election effort in even more jeopardy, and would almost require Obama to pretty much have to ace the next two head-to-head debates w/ Romney. A major challenge, to say the least.

    To put a little twist on Barack’s signature campaign slogan from 2008, lets just HOPE in the next few weeks leading up to election day, that CHANGE of the Obama/ Biden ticket’s fortunes is trending in a positive, winning direction.

    Dems -generated “Hope” and “Change” could still rule the day, when all the dust finally settles.

    Obama is a good man. Hard to hate the guy…. period.

    Have to keep the faith, Steve.