Hillary Clinton—who has pneumonia and is therefore automatically disqualified from being president—gave political cartoonists a final gift before dropping out of the race. (I can only assume she will have dropped out by the time you read this, since in addition to pneumonia, she suffers from whooping cough, gout, Parkinson’s, glaucoma of the brain, and moosebumps; per the Trump supporters I follow on Twitter, she’s basically a walking buffet of disease.)
Anyway, back to that final gift: Clinton’s strangely specific phrase “basket of deplorables,” coined in reference to some of Trump’s more David Duke-ish supporters, is like jet fuel for the satirist’s imagination. What political cartoonist could resist drawing a giant wicker basket filled with Klansmen, alt-right twitter superstars, and the like?
Perhaps this unseemly basket could be shown on a grocery-store shelf. The grocery store would have a sign out front: WHOLE GOONS (styled like the Whole Foods logo). As a middle-American couple considers the basket, Trump, wearing a grocer’s apron, could exclaim, “Take home this wonderful produce!” The middle-American wife could say, “Hmm, I’m not sure I like the way it looks,” while her husband adds, “Sure seems rotten to me!” In this way, the cartoonist would reaffirm the common decency of the undecided voter, the most noble of citizens (for this vital democratic specimen has no knowledge of, or interest in, politics, and must therefore be pure of heart, enjoying an unsullied, nonpartisan intellect).
And then, just when you thought the cartoon couldn’t get any better, you’d notice Hillary Clinton (as the health inspector) peeking in through the window and saying, “I need to put this guy OUT OF BUSINESS!” To which Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (as the store’s manager) would reply, “You’re in no position to judge our cleanliness—you’re a walking health hazard!” This cutting remark would bring cheers from the long lines of grocery store customers waiting at checkout, their shopping carts filled with boxes labeled HATE, PREJUDICE, IGNORANCE, and the like.
There would be smaller items in the carts, too. They would be labeled ECONOMIC INSECURITY and DEMOGRAPHIC ANXIETY—namely, ingredients that sometimes contribute to the loathsome feasts packed into the aforementioned boxes. However, these items are harder to “swallow,” as it were, and so will receive only the most perfunctory sketch from the artist’s pen.
Our “health inspector” would respond to the store manager’s cutting remark by coughing, swooning, and stumbling into a waiting SUV in the least flattering manner possible, thereby leading to even more speculation as to how many days she has left before the cold embrace of the grave envelops her forever.
(NOTE: An actual empty grave would be pictured on a high hill in the distance; the hill would be labeled MOUNT PNEUMONIA and Sean Hannity, dressed as a park ranger, would be handing out brochures explaining its fatal magnetism while also pooping through a bullhorn cranked to 11.)
Meanwhile, in the grocery store’s meat locker, the bisected cadavers of Paul Manafort, Corey Lewandowski, and other former Trump staffers would lend a certain visual frisson to the otherwise banal imagery of the cartoon.
The cartoon would be titled “WE’RE ALL GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET,” or something like that. Maybe, “AMERICAN POLITICS IS A ‘BASKET’ CASE THESE DAYS,” or even “JACK AND JILL WENT UP THE HILL . . . TO FETCH A BASKET OF MADNESS.” Then again, this last caption may be too weird for most cartoon syndicates.