Thursday, March 9, 2006

How to lie with cartoons

This Modern World is one of my favorite comic strips, I make a point to read it every week. But while I usually do not agree with the artist's perspective, "Tom Tomorrow" is capable of making a solid argument. That, however, is not always the case. Take this week's entry, for example.

In the strip, stock conservative characters experience an "unfamiliar sensation" where they disagree with President Bush on allowing a company based in the United Arab Emirates to operate U.S. ports. One conservative asks of this means the trio is "with the terrorists now".

In order to really hit the mark, parody needs to be based in truth. In this case, TMW is not. There has been a significant outcry from conservatives on the UAE ports deal. Yesterday, the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee voted to prohibit DP World from operating U.S. ports by a 62-2 margin.

In other words, there has been a conservative crackdown on the ports deal, just as there was when President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Conservative opposition to Miers resulted in the nomination and confirmation of Samuel Alito, an established conservative.

"Tom Tomorrow" to attempts to spin conservatives as mindless robots following President Bush. That is not the case, and he knows it. There has been unrest in the grassroots about the growth of government spending in this administration. Many conservatives are unhappy with programs like the No Child Left Behind Act, because it is a significant expansion of the federal government into primary and secondary education. Many conservatives are also not happy with a brand new federal entitlement in the form of the Medicare prescription-drug program, and there is a lot of conservative discontent over "campaign finance reform".

There are "robots" on both sides who will blindly follow the party no matter how outrageous the proposal might be or how much it conflicts with their core beliefs. "Tom Tomorrow" damages his own credibility, however, when he tries to paint everyone on the conservative side with that brush. Ignoring established facts just because they are inconvenient does not enhance one's argument.