Political Cartoon Analysis

Jana Cuberovic, Elizabeth Alig 2B

"Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick" by Herb Block (1986)

Purpose- Block wants to show his disapproval of how Reagan was handling the consequences of his actions during a scandal.

Subject- It shows well respected and honest presidents such as the Presidents Roosevelt and President Truman and compares them to President Reagan and his attempt to rid himself of any blame.

Context- The Reagan presidency was involved in the Iran-Contra Affair, which was a scandal in which it was found that the Reagan administration was selling weapons to Iran, mainly in exchange for hostages. During the scandal, Reagan repeatedly denied knowledge of any wrongdoing and said that while "mistakes were made," they were not made by him.

Techniques- The political cartoon uses exaggeration and analogy to get the point across. It compares President Reagan to up-front, honest, and well-respected presidents that Americans are proud of in order to make his denials of guilt seem petty, childish, and selfish. The cartoon exaggerates the extent of Reagan's denial and arrogance in order to show how little he was willing to take responsibility and how seemingly little he cared about the consequences of the scandal.

"Crime and Punishment" by Herb Block (1999)

Purpose- Block wants to convey that the punishment that people get for a crime is not proportional its magnitude.

Subject- The cartoon shows two prison inmates describing their offences and their unproportional sentences.

Context- During the 1990's, the country launched a war on drugs in an attempt to lower the amount of drugs on the streets, and that caused the punishment for non-violent drug crimes to be harsher than for violent crimes such as murder.The jails were often at maximum capacity with small-time offenders, so officials had problems placing the perpetrators of harsher crimes anywhere. The harsher punishments had no actual effect on drug crime, so it was viewed as a waste of time and resources.

Techniques- The political cartoon is ironic because one would think that the punishment for killing a man would be more severe than the punishment for someone who was found with drugs for personal use and no intent to distribute. Using irony, Block wants to inform people about the huge discrepancy between how the justice system should work and how it actually does.

"'A house divided'--'Preserve the Union'--when does he get to the important thing--telling us all about his personal religion?" by Herb Block (2000)

Purpose- The political cartoon shows how our view of politics today has gotten off track by focusing on less important issues for a political office, such as religion.

Subject- The cartoon shows two people listening to Lincoln's speech and ignoring everything he says because Lincoln is not talking about what they deem "important" in politics, such as religion and personal beliefs.

Context- Religion became a very important part of the 2000 presidential campaign because almost every candidate announced their religion and beliefs. It became such a hotly debated issue in that campaign that some other important areas of discussion were put off to the side and not discussed in the depth that they needed to be.

Techniques- Block uses the techniques of analogy and symbolism in this political cartoon. He compares the politicians of today to President Lincoln, a man of faith that kept his religion out of his job, in order to show that while it is natural to have personal beliefs, there is no need to broadcast them to the world. Block uses Lincoln as a symbol of the ideal of our political system and the people as the symbol of the political focus of today. Lincoln has a reputation of being a "light in the dark", so Block, through symbolism, is trying to say that today's politicians should rise to the level of personal commitment to the American people and country that giants like Lincoln had.