The impeachment of Donald Trump has turned what was already an editorial cartoonist’s dream administration into a full-on party. The rich cast of characters legislating our lives from their Capitol Hill offices in Washington, DC can always be depended upon to create the kind of drama that can best be summed up in a cartoon.
Political commentators have been busy recently drawing comparisons between the on-going formal proceedings involving Donald Trump and those of Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Due to overwhelming evidence of his knowledge of the Watergate break-in, Nixon actually resigned before being formally impeached by a full House vote, while Clinton was impeached by the House in late 1998 but acquitted in the Senate early in 1999 after a trial that lasted just over a month.
While we may think partisan politics is a recent phenomenon, a look back at some political cartoons produced during the impeachment inquiries into Nixon and Clinton tell a different story. It seems that in the past party loyalty has been prioritized over moral and ethical principles just as it often is today.
In this post, I’m presenting a curated selection of cartoons that illustrate and compare the political will and public mood in all three of these periods during which the strength of American democracy has been tested. Mind you, Trump’s political fortunes – and those of his GOP supporters – are yet to be determined as history continues marching on…
In this cartoon, Richard Nixon is depicted as a man about to be hanged – Wild West style – by the Democratic House Judiciary Committee. Artist: Carl Hubenthal (07/21/1974) LA Herald-Examiner and The Opper Project, Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library.
Bill Clinton being chastised for his sexual history. For those who weren’t around at that time, Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about having a sexual affair with a White House intern and for obstruction of justice during the investigation which followed. Artist: Steve Sack – Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The blue dress worn by the White House intern – with whom Clinton had an affair – became a symbol of Clinton’s wanton ways. The ‘stain’ on his reputation has followed him through the years. In this cartoon, the blue dress is used as a symbol of male aggression for the #MeToo movement. Artist: Nate Beeler (06/06/2018) Columbus Dispatch.
The labels attached to Bill Clinton during his impeachment stuck and continued to follow him as shown in this illustration as he opens his presidential library. Artist: Mike Luckovich (11/17/2004) Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton giving pre-impeachment advice to Donald Trump. As we know, Trump was not impeached for trying to cover up his own sexual affairs (depicted here), but was given a pass by the Democrat-controlled House until his infamous phone call with the Ukrainian president seeking dirt on his political rival Joe Biden. Artist: Kevin Kallaugher (05/06/2018) via Twitter and Baltimore Sun.
Lindsey Graham is one GOP senator who has changed his tone on impeachment over the past two decades. Artist: Rob Rogers (2019) Andrews McMeel Syndication.
While Trump and his GOP buddies have been proclaiming that the impeachment proceedings are being used by the Democrats as a way to ‘subvert’ the will of the people, this claim falls on its face when the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election is acknowledged. The FACT that Hilary Clinton won by popular vote is still disputed by many Trump die-hards. Artist: Bill Bramhall (2019) New York Daily News.
Well-known editorial cartoonist David Horsey puts his spin on Benjamin Franklin’s famous words concerning the USA and its status as a republic. Artist: David Horsey (2019) Tribune Content Agency.
Even Mr. Rogers realizes he can’t resolve this neighborhood squabble. Artist: Michael Ramirez (2019) Las Vegas Review-Journal.
I would like to extend my most sincere apologies to two wonderful members of the animal kingdom – the donkey and the elephant – for maligning their reputations for so many years by associating them with the wicked acts that only humans can contemplate.