Politics is hard, and we need some straightforward and literal way to process the ever-shifting alliances of power in an election season. To that end, The Baffler has employed expert comic mind David Rees to give a visual rendering of the day’s signature political controversies. The only problem is that David can’t draw, so his cartoons are word pictures—which is to say, words. He does, however, warmly urge Baffler readers to submit their own visual interpretations of the scenes he describes, so that we can get away with calling this a cartoon feature, and meet our quota of user-generated content on the Baffler website.
Responses to our previous cartoon: This Trumpzilla Cartoon Won’t Fix a Thing.
Political cartoonists, like politicians themselves, are not above stealing ideas from people who are more intelligent, accomplished, or fortunate than they are. It’s possible for different cartoonists to hit upon the same imagery or metaphors independently of each other—but more often than not, these deadline-driven magpies are just burgling memes from the collective trend-zone we call the Idea Vortex of Modern Life.
That’s why political cartooning is a lazy person’s paradise. And that’s why I love it.
That’s also why I offer no apologies for representing Marco Rubio as a robot that hopes one day to turn into a real little boy.
You are looking at a cartoon about the end of Marco Rubio’s campaign. The cartoon is oddly affecting—poignant, even. As much as you’d hoped for an ecstatic wave of schadenfreude to mark the occasion, you can’t help but feel a little sad: After all, nobody likes to see a child’s dreams dashed against the rocks. So you notice that this cartoon is bordered by your own teardrops. (Note: This is a stylistic innovation never before seen in one of my cartoons!)
At the center of the cartoon is a robot sitting on the floor wearing Pinocchio-style clothes: vest, floppy bowtie, shorts. The robot is labeled “MARCO RUBIO.” He is obviously not a real person, and the yawning chasm between his current state and the ideal of mature humanity registers quite profoundly as you look at him. In fact, you turn to the person sitting next to you and say, “This political cartoon’s representation of Marco Rubio is surprisingly affecting.”
Our little “Roborubionocchio” is flanked by the state of Florida (labeled as such), who is rolling her eyes with disdain. (Florida’s eyes should be drawn in the locations of Miami and Tampa.) Florida is saying, “Frontrunner? More like Run-Fumbler!” On the other side of Rubio, a confused old man on a stool gesticulates with a corncob pipe and says, “I’m plum bewildered by this here narrative twist!” This man is labeled “Old Zeke, the Homespun Storyteller.*” And at the bottom of the cartoon, we see the footnote: “*(Symbolic of the political press).”
You see, as far as the political press is concerned, campaigns are mostly—or most importantly—“stories.” And the sages of the political press are happy to function as “storytellers.” (I suppose the candidates are storytellers as well, but let’s limit our references to stories and storytellers as much as possible, because we all secretly die a little with each utterance of those accursed words.) The political press assumed Rubio to be the logically satisfying—and storytelling-ly logical—protagonist of the 2016 Electoral Fable. After all, he’s Latino, young, and doesn’t sound (and act) like a demon trapped upside-down in a well, unlike Ted Cruz. Charming young man charms nation. Frontrunner runs in front. How could he not win?
Well, I’m pretty sure Donald Trump had something to do with it. Trump rolled his bulldozer (and by that I mean his big fat hate-belching face) into the story and disrupted the narrative conventions.
So our cartoon needs more. Specifically, it needs Rubio closing a massive, leather-bound storybook with a sigh. The storybook has been run over by a bulldozer; we see tire treads. Rubio says, “Beep boop. Does not compute. Outmoded story protocol has fatally wounded my narrative. Commence full systems shutdown. Loser-mode engaged. Bloooooop.” (The lettering for this monologue should be both robotic and heartbroken, somehow.) In the distance, we see a retreating bulldozer labeled “TRUMP.” The bulldozer is belching black clouds of exhaust labeled “Incitement to violence,” “Egregious statements of pure bullshit,” and “Fatal collapse of common American decency, however rare it may have been in our storied past.”
There’s another book lying on the floor beside Rubio. It has been dog-eared and bookmarked within an inch of its life. Its title? “1,001 Hilarious Dirty Jokes to Be Used in a Last-Ditch Effort to Beat the Bulldozer at His Own Game.” A slender iron chain connects this book to Rubio’s ankle, as it will follow him around for the rest of his life and forever mark him as a pathetic figure.
Can someone please draw this cartoon for me? I would do it myself, but I lost my special cartooning pens at the library.
Oh! One more thing: It must be said that if Marco Rubio were two inches shorter, he could stand up inside his own ears. That is amazing.
Now draw it! Submit your Roborubionocchios to DrawForRees@thebaffler.com.
Update: Here’s what Baffler reader Catie West made of Roborubionocchio and his last-ditch effort to beat the bulldozer at its own game: