Michael Munger: Problematic cartoon

December 31, 2012 

Problematic cartoon

The Dec. 31 editorial cartoon by Jim Morin of the Miami Herald could have been funny. Old 2012 asks, “Where’s the 2013 baby?” And a clown dressed as Congress could say, “We’re filibustering it.”

Now, only the Senate has filibusters; the House doesn’t allow them. But at least it would have been nonpartisan, focusing on a dysfunctional institution generically called Congress. And the Senate (controlled by Democrats) is dysfunctional. They have not even debated a formal budget bill since 2009. Would the Republicans have filibustered a budget bill? Hard to tell, since none has been brought forward from committee.

But the cartoon didn’t say Congress. Couldn’t do that, because the Democrats control the Senate. The clown had to be labeled “House” Tea Party.

Two problems. First, no House filibusters. Second, this is partisan claptrap.

Congress, both chambers, is gridlocked by an appalling leadership vacuum, on both sides. But instead of pointing that out, you selected a cartoon with a factually mistaken, needlessly partisan message.

I sincerely hope that you intentionally chose partisanship over accuracy in selecting that cartoon. Because the alternative is worse: You folks charged with leading public opinion about politics don’t understand the basics of congressional procedure.

Michael Munger


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