James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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The real McCoy: Conservative cartoonist shows contempt for Americans

Posted by James McPherson on November 8, 2008

I have never understood the appeal of cartoonist Glenn McCoy to anyone other than a Sean Hannity fan, and McCoy (whose schoolyard-bully scribbles regularly appear in my own local newspaper) has for some time been one of my least-favorite cartoonists.

That’s not because he is a conservative–after all, one of my favorite cartoonists is the Arizona Republic’s Steve Benson–but because McCoy regularly combines a mean-spirited partisan approach with twisted logic and a notable ignorance (or willful disregard) of history. Americans and the news media are ignorant enough about their history without the distortions of the likes of Hannity and McCoy, whose Nov. 6 cartoon well demonstrates his shortcomings.

In that cartoon, Barack Obama stands holding a newspaper with the headline, “OBAMA WINS.” Next to Obama, Abraham Lincoln’s statute is thinking, “I guess you CAN fool all of the people all of the time.” Think about that for a moment, and then let’s first address the logical problems with McCoy’s argument.

  1. Most people are not Americans.
  2. While the presidential campaign was longer than most, two years hardly represents “all of the time”–and even many Obama supporters disagreed with some of his thinking (and pointed out his misstatements).
  3. Many Americans did not vote at all, either because they were not qualified to do so or because of apathy.
  4. About 53 percent of the those did vote cast ballots for Obama, meaning almost half of voters preferred someone else.
  5. Even many of those who voted for Obama would have preferred someone else: Hillary Clinton, Bob Barr, Mike Huckabee, or any number of others. But faced with the only real choice left–Obama or McCain–they rejected the candidate who represented the party blamed for many of the current problems we face, and instead chose the candidate who most represented hope, optimism and the likelihood of change. Voters did the same thing, of course, when they chose Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Outside of the logical arguments, McCoy also demonstrates an ignorance of American history. After all, this isn’t the first time Americans had elected a little-known candidate out of Illinois who:

  • opposed the war his country waged
  • was known largely for his oratory skill
  • served a brief and undistinguished stint in the Illinois legislature
  • ran for president after a mere two years in Congress.

The war that candidate opposed was the Mexican-American War, and the candidate was Abraham Lincoln.

Finally, McCoy demonstrates a partisanship that spills over into contempt for the American electoral system and the majority of voters who participated in it. Just two days after Americans had demonstrated–again–their desire to get past win-at-all-costs partisanship in the hope that their government might actually focus on the issues that matter most, McCoy chose to act like a spoiled child and call those voters idiots for voting the way they did.

Unfortunately, many newspapers–including the Spokesman-Review, which I read daily and which was among the minority of American newspapers that endorsed John McCain–chose to carry the cartoon on their editorial pages, demonstrating their own disregard for logic, history and the electorate. Such decisions make it somewhat easier to understand why the Spokesman and other papers have undergone serious financial problems, and why their very existence is threatened. The same editorial decisions also make it tougher for many of us to care whether those publications disappear.

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3 Responses to “The real McCoy: Conservative cartoonist shows contempt for Americans”

  1. Luis Lopez said

    “….McCoy chose to act like a spoiled child and call those voters idiots for voting the way they did.”

    To play devil’s advocate for a moment Jim, the same contempt that McCoy expressed in his cartoon can be said about people on the left expressing their disgust when Bush was elected in 2000 and in 2004.

    I guess what it comes down to is that individuals will stand by their part affiliation no matter what occurs.

    As a matter of fact, I wrote a note on Facebook addressing the displeasure that many of my conservative friends expressed when Obama was declared the winner. The overall point of the note, without going into too much detail was that we should try to set aside our partisan beliefs to acknowledge that America has made a giant step in regards to race relations.

    In the last few years, I think that political conversations have been dominated by an “us and them” mentality, on both sides of the aisle. And it’s really too bad. I would think that we all could be mature enough to have a conversation and disagree with another in a civil manner, rather than being incredibly negative.

  2. James McPherson said

    You’re definitely right about neither side having a monopoly on contempt, and in fact I have been impressed with how gracious even folks like Bill Kristol have been since the election. Bloggers tend to be the worst, and since I read blogs from the far right and the far left, I get to see people on both sides congratulating themselves for supposedly not being as hateful as those on “the other side.”

  3. DianeBkht said

    Would like to make a comment on Glenn McCoy’s Cartoon shown in our Fayetteville Paper today…it was down right disgusting!!! It involves Keith O. of MSNBC talking about Sarah Palin writing on her hands and what an idiot she is. But would like to suggest one Mr. McCoy can do since he is so politically motivated! Try putting Sarah Palin in one frame arguing about the word Retarded being used, and Rush L. in another frame using the word and showing Sarah Palin shaking in her black boots. OR try showing the nice Tea party people with the N word ( you know the recent pic). And make sure you show how angry and crazy these people look! Crazy how we never see cartoons such as this! THANKS!!!

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