Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Jes' Fine"

I see from a report on Al Jazeera English that John McCain is as optimistic about his prospects as ever:

John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, has said that he is still in a position to win the White House on November 4.

He told NBC television's 'Meet the Press' programme on Sunday that he was "doing fine" despite some national and state opinion polls putting him more than 10 points behind Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate.

Given how much has been made of McCain's age, I know that he is old enough to remember the comic strip Pogo. I have no idea if he ever read it, but the way in which it treated the 1960 Presidential Election is somewhat of a classic in the political clout of the funny papers. Indeed, that treatment was later delivered as a stand-alone paperback book. The review provided by wiredweird (one of their "Top 100" reviewers) provides the necessary background:

It's election year again, so the swamp goes all out to celebrate the silly side of the democratic process. This time, Fremount (the boy bug) creates all the buzz. Not old enough to know many words, "Jes' Fine" is all he says. In the Okeefenokee, that's enough, so the campaign is off and running.

P.T. Bridgeport nominates himself campaign manager. Somehow, though, his news releases center on himself and often forget to mention the candidate. Congersman Frog announces his solidarity with voters of all the swamp's many species. An inane pollster and satiric Madison Avenue type make their appearances, with complete conquest of appearance over substance. And so on, with Howland, Churchy, Albert, and the usual cast of characters.

Of course, that includes Pogo himself and his friend Porky - the only two voices of sanity when everyone else gets caught up in the moment. They keep the tone gentle and civil, a sensibility that appears far too rarely in more recent commentary.

Given that Jerzy Kosinski's Being There came out in 1971, I have to wonder whether or not the family resemblance to Pogo is deliberate. Alas, neither Walt Kelly nor Kosinski is still with us; so neither of them can appreciate the transmogrification of a boy bug or "cognitively challenged" gardener into a Republican Presidential candidate. The irony will just have to be shared by the rest of us!

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