Welcome to Behind the Lines, a weekly conversation with Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley and BYU economist Val Lambson.
Bagley: Rather than choosing Tuesday's fetal rights cartoon and a hopeless abortion debate, I'm going to play it safe and go with race and sex. My Cain cartoon mocks the "Hermanator" for repeatedly changing his story about allegations of sexual harassment. I start with Cain saying "I did not have settlement with that woman," referencing, of course, Bill Clinton's famous "I did not have sex with that woman," from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
In caricaturing a fresh face, it takes me about a nanosecond to fix on what distinguishes that person. It is an involuntary reflex that reveals to my mind's eye George W. Bush's close-set, beady eyes, Bill Clinton's clown nose and Mitch McConnell's resemblance to a turtle.
Some excitable souls in the comments section saw my depiction of Cain's big mouth as racist. I have another explanation. No matter how I look at him, I see Cain resembling a black Teddy Roosevelt. http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trcartoonsprompt.html
Lambson: Such excitable souls will forever be offended. Martin Luther King's dream was of a society where people are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Unfounded accusations of racism don't seem a useful way to make further progress toward that goal. Cain's candidacy is a celebration of the fact that, in our great democracy, anyone can attain the highest office in the land, even with virtually no experience in government. Just like last time.
Bagley: The Republican presidential contest is a testament that virtually anyone in this great nation, regardless of race, creed, color or tenuous attachment to reality, has a shot at being the leader in the GOP polls for a week or two. Oh, how I miss Donald Trump's hair!
Lambson: Partisans, whether Democrats or Republicans, love to accuse each other of things that plague both parties. Cain's partisans are reminiscent of Clinton's partisans in his day. At least you have a sense of humor.
Bagley: Politics these days makes my job easy. (I know, it's a throwaway line). As for Democrats and Republicans being mirror-images of each other ... well, there is a difference. My problem with Republicans (I'll get into my problem with Democrats another time) is that many have snapped the tether and are floating fact-free out beyond Pluto.
For instance, Cain is successfully selling a tax increase on 80 percent of Americans with his pithy 9-9-9 plan to the party that hates taxes. http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-10-31/news/30341172_1_income-tax-national-sales-tax-tax-plan In what universe is that not crazy?
Okay, I know you're not an apologist for the GOP, but still ...
Lambson: Of course there is a difference between the two parties. Democrats are the party of tax and spend. Republicans are the party of borrow and spend. Republicans tend to bias spending increases toward defense and law enforcement. Democrats tend to bias spending increases toward entitlements. Republicans tend to reduce our personal freedoms (for example, the Patriot Act). Democrats tend to reduce our economic freedoms (for example, higher taxes and more regulation). But they both increase the size of government. And they are not monolithic. There is arguably more difference within each party than there is difference in actual policy when power changes hands.
My nomination for the best comment from last week is by slippast: "We could've rebuilt our entire energy infrastructure and gotten a long way down the road on changing our national energy habits with the money we wasted in Iraq. "
Perhaps with a little hyperbole, but a reasonable point civilly made.