Friday, August 04, 2006

In Which I Am Generally Too Thick To Comprehend a Comic Strip

Today I read a Day by Day cartoon that I not only understood, but actually agreed with (more or less).

This is a landmark, because -- though I've seen this strip off and on, usually as linked by Compass Points, the blog of my colleague Brad Miner of the American Compass book club -- none of the previous strips I've read have quite made sense to me. I can tell that they're supposed to make some kind of a political point, but they always seem to be referring to unspecified things, people and actions that I don't recognize at all. So -- though it's obvious I'm supposed to say "Yes, Mister X is completely wrong with his policy of blah blah blah," I instead think "who the hell is Mister X?"

(Parenthetically, let me note that the artist, Chris Muir, draws one smokin-hot woman, though I keep worrying that her pants/skirt/whatever-it-is is about to fall off her. Hm. Maybe that's the point? But the green-skinned guy in panel two today is just weird.)

I'm sure this is because I don't have my head completely encased in a partisan media environment, but it's baffling that such a deliberately opaque cartoon can continue to exist.

It reminds me of a woman who was in one of my classes at Vassar, back about eighteen years ago. I don't recall the exact name of the course, but it was something like Introduction to Political Theory (it was a 100-level Poli Sci class), and it was taught by the great Steve Rock. My friend Vin Bonanno (who e-mailed me a few weeks ago, and hasn't replied to my answer, the bum) and I sat together, and we had a great time. One of the reasons we did was this woman, who was clearly on a completely different wavelength from everyone else in the class. She'd sit quietly in the corner, visibly stewing as other people spoke. Then, when she had had all she could take, she would blurt out something incomprehensible, and then return to fuming silently and staring down anyone who looked at her. I suspect she was a Marxist of some stripe (the Spartacist League was active in those days), but no one else in the class ever agreed with her, or had any idea what she was talking about. (Even the professor.)

I can't remember anything she said specifically -- none of it made any sense, so it was hard to remember -- but the way we described it to friends at the time was as if she said "The balance of payments was low!" at the top of her voice.

I'm afraid Day by Day is the urbane, conservative version of that woman.

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