For the past few months I have been occasionally dipping into the swampy waters of the Okefenokee reading -- or, more often, rereading the adventures of everyone's favorite possum.
From almost the very beginning the unassuming marsupial has evinced little or no interest in politics, while those about him (his creator included) go overboard in trying to explain/confuse/satirize/or just plain misconstrue the human and/or animal condition.
Alas, poor Kelly, the 1968 election cycle proved to be almost to much for him. Republican contenders were coming out of the woodwork, only to drop from the scene shortly after they had been satirized in the strip. Mr. Romney (no, the one with the car elevator) left the scene shortly after being portrayed as a wind-up toy -- if he tries to talk, he puts his foot in mouth, either his or someone else's. Wind-up toy Nixon is off and running at a drop of the hat. Meantime, wind-up Rockefeller is singing about being "A lady-in-waiting, I'm anticipating." Wind-up George McGovern charges forth on his white donkey, shield ablaze with the words "Wholly Grail or Bust." Ronald Reagan is an enthusiastic puppy acting as the head on a clown's body. Huckster and showman P.T. Bridgeport stands on the rear platform of the SOP railroad line (the Same Old Party Line) ready to travel to New Hampshire only to have the rear platform fall off the train: "the platform har'ly ever goes with the old part line."
Our president at the time is portrayed as a longhorn Texas steer who tends to get stuck in inescapable places and whose eyesight is so bad that he's lost his vision. (Ten days after that caricature appeared, a national paper finally noticed thee resemblance between the longhorn steer and the incumbent president and banned the strip, which show the press of nearly half a century ago to be as nearsighted as today.)
Beauregard and ends up the hound dog decides to run for president also himself as his vice-presidential candidate. leaving him to wonder who will take the top spot. Because Pogo is trusting, dependable, and a perfect gentleman, Molester Mole decides that Pogo is the perfect
Things keep getting more confused, in real-life and on the Okefenokee, until Kelly pulls a fast one and convinces many of his main characters that it is December in June and that all the election folderol is over. Reality can sometimes be just too much for a satirist.
One more thing. In an introductory footnote (actually a footnote to a footnote), Kelly writes: "The cartooned figure of Senator Robert can be found here. Normally the cartoonist drops the caricature of one who has departed. but, in truth, it is hard to comprehend that this friend is gone. Besides, he believed in the fun we all have shared. To this extent also, he lives on."
Today, there are many strips that skewer pomposity. Back then, there was only one that did it right.