Gluyas Williams: Crisis in Washington, "Mr. Coolidge refuses point blank to vacate the White House until his other rubber is found," 1929, photo-engraving, 83/4 by 71/8 inches; published in Life, Feb. 15,1929. General Library, Univ. of Calif., Berkeley.  

1. Insofar as it presented itself as a government-sponsored Bicentennial event, this show inevitably associated itself with that multifarious political-commercial hoopla ostensibly designed to celebrate the "founding of the Nation." (Just how politically inspired, and how remote from 1776, some of these government-funded Bicentennial programs were may be judged from that listed as "History of Tear Gas Used for Riot Control Study" [Guardian, Jan. 21, 1976, p.6]). And there were some notable gaps in the immense roster of Bicentennial programs (which were also apparent in the selection composing this exhibition of Presidential cartoons), particularly in the area of ethnic minority, working class and feminist struggles. I am told that an altogether different kind of exhibition was at first envisaged by the museum—one on the American Indians and their cultures; but that the present (white) custodians of Indian artifacts in various institutions would be reluctant to lend to such an exhibition, for fear the original owners might try to take them back. The fact that such an exhibition was conceived at all reflects a certain political intelligence on the part of the Berkeley Museum's then-directorate; the fact that it could not be held for security reasons reflects on the new political militance of the Indians.
2. The exhibition traveled during 1976 from the University Art Museum, Berkeley (Jan. 13-Feb. 22) to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, Austin, Texas (Mar. 15-Apr. 25), the David and Alfred Smart Gallery, Univ. of Chicago (May 13-June 27), the Indianapolis Museum of Art (Aug. 2-Sept. 12) and the National Portrait Gallery, Wash., D.C. (Oct. 15-Nov. 28).
3. The American Presidency in Political Cartoons: 1776-1976, by Thomas C. Blaisdell, Jr., Peter Selz and Seminar [Lani Abbott, Gretchen Beck, Judith Bernstein, Cheryl Brown, Danny Einstein, Ann Harlow, Linda Harris, Laura Kates, Gail Katz, Mark Manolson, Janet Potter, Mark Summers, Bradley Webb], originally published by the University Art Museum, Berkeley, has been revised somewhat and reissued in a trade edition (280 pp., $9.95) by Peregrine Smith, Inc., Salt Lake City and Santa Barbara.
4. After the Berkeley showing, Feiffer withdrew his four cartoons in protest over the way they were treated in the catalogue. I would presume he objected particularly to the manner in which his satire on Kennedy-as-showman in The Frontier Drag (no. 94) was completely disarmed by the catalogue entry.
Is the style of much editorial cartooning today inherently trivializing? Or does the comic line set up an esthetic distance that reveals the idea behind the puppet?

Presidents have been easy game for cartoonists for the past two centuries, but the concept of the Presidency itself (and the system it heads) have seldom been questioned. This was apparent in a widely traveled Bicentennial exhibition which raised many issues and problems, left most of them unanswered, and seemed more concerned with personalities than with social ideas.

"The American Presidency in Political Cartoons: 1776-1976," first an exhibition and now, in the form of its widely-sold catalogue, a "book," was the principal contribution of the University Art Museum, Berkeley to Bicentennialism.  The enterprise was partly funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Now, a government-funded project does not necessarily reflect government ideology;1 and the presence of this exhibition in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin (part of its tour last spring) or the National Portrait Gallery in Washington (where it closed this winter)2 certainly does not connote Presidential imprimatur. In fact, the show may legitimately be regarded as a gesture of defiance toward the political establishment, since most of the cartoons are critical of the President—and toward the art establishment, since cartooning is usually viewed as a "low art" implicitly or explicitly hostile to "high art" and is traditionally downgraded by academic art institutions. But—ironically—Presidents have seldom, if ever, showed themselves publicly to be offended by caricature, and have sometimes welcomed it, just as the American political system has generally tolerated—and managed to absorb and neutralize a broad spectrum of dissent.

The idea of the show originated in that "hotbed of dissent," Berkeley, proposed by political science professor Thomas Blaisdell to museum director Peter Selz, who in 1970 had audaciously presented an exhibition of angry, improvised anti-war posters without any window-dressing as "art" or "scholarship." One may applaud the decision not to have made this exhibition a broader one on the American political cartoon in general, which probably would have invited the kind of hodge-podge that caricatural material is often subjected to.  But in fact, the selection of the theme of the American Presidency was still too broad and did not manage to provide a compelling focus. Perhaps the attempt to cover 200 years evenly and impartially, with an eye to the continuity of a particular political institution (rather than its peaks and nadirs and its most critical junctures), blurred the organizers' vision. Actually the exhibition was somewhat mis-named; it was basically about a succession of individual American Presidents, not the Presidency as a concept; this concept was not taken under critical consideration either in the cartoons themselves or by the exhibition apparatus (catalogue texts, catalogue entries, wall labels).

The exhibition presented an even spread not only of Presidents, but also of cartoonists. It contained 113 catalogued items, by 73 named and 15 anonymous cartoonists. About half the cartoons are the work of eight artists; the rest—ca. 80 cartoonists—are represented by one to three items. These statistics reveal twin purposes: to give the "stars" their due and at the same time to include a "democratic spread" of lesser-known and unknown artists. The latter purpose, laudable in itself, contributed to the lack of focus as did the organizers' criterion for inclusion—the appearance in the cartoon of the person of a President.

This criterion excluded too much that is essential to the understanding of both the Presidency and the U.S. political system itself. It tended to exclude, also, a whole block of important critical opinion: that contained in the Socialist press. And it excluded absolutely the greatest Socialist cartoonist the U.S. has produced, and one of the greatest of any persuasion, period or country—Art Young. The major socialist artist William Gropper was pretty feebly represented by two rather silly, unpublished and uncharacteristic drawings, which show FDR as Mae West (1934) and as Louis XIV (ca. 1941). Both are genial, complaisant, amusing transvestitures, the latter not in the least (as the catalogue puts it) "a figure of formidable power, force and arrogance" but a pretext for some elegant, Steinbergian calligraphy.

In fairness, one must stress that Selz, in his preface to the catalogue,3 pays due tribute to Young and the other fine Socialist artists working for The Masses, and he briefly explains the reason for their omission: "Rarely indeed did The Masses or its successors…publish cartoons against a President, because as Marxist journals, they were more concerned with fighting the system than with taking issue with any individual." But, unless an exhibition declares itself openly partisan and abandons the claim to scholarly "objectivity," it must surely give space to those artists whose opinion of the Presidency is stated in the most forceful, if negative, fashion by the very fact that they refuse to consider the individual President as a prime mover. The recognition that the destiny of the nation is shaped not by the personal vices of a President or the often petty differences between Democrat and Republican, President and Vice President or President and Congress, but rather by the social ideas which government statements and party platforms generally seek to evade—is in stark contrast to the obscurantism of the established press, big business and inner-party politics, which seek to hide their own manipulations behind cries of Presidential malfeasance.

There were other omissions, especially in the more recent period: Where was Ron Cobb? Cobb, the finest, best-known, and most widely circulated political cartoonist of the "alternative" press, and one of the most thoughtful artists at work today, was, during the critical Vietnam war years (and probably still is), a decisive influence on the student population. Although chiefly concerned with ideas and "social model" rather than individual and topical situations, Cobb has produced many excellent cartoons of the President in action.

On the show's credit side, one welcomed the inclusion of a little-known artist working for The Verdict (a precursor of The Masses), Horace Taylor, who gave us the only representation here of the working man. It is unfortunate (but revealing) that the author of the catalogue entry should have unconsciously perpetuated the class bias of the capitalist press of the time, seeing the very idea of using a representative of the working class as an invitation to "factional dreariness."

Another important "lesser figure” in political cartooning is Daniel Fitzpatrick, a radical who also dealt with ideas rather than personalities but who just slipped through the meshes of the exhibition's criteria by virtue of the fact that he renders the name, if not the figure, of a President. An interesting speculation with respect to Fitzpatrick's unorthodox style, which is characterized, like Art Young's and Robert Minor's, by heavy, simple volumetric outlines deriving ultimately from Downier. Is Fitzpatrick's style an index to the nature of his political outlook, which is essentially serious, and sees "in depth”?

Can this be contrasted with the facile, jokey comic-strip-related style of a contemporary such as Jay Darling, whom the catalogue defines as a "typically American cartoonist," who cannot see beyond the shallow contours and the diverting surface of political life?

Such speculation may be taken a step further: is there something in the shorthand style of most editorial cartooning which inherently trivializes, not only persons but issues as well? Or does the comic line effect a kind of Brechtian esthetic distance which enables us to see the idea more clearly behind the puppet?  Jules Feiffer, adequately represented with four items,4 can certainly be quite Brechtian in this way, having developed a handy, miniaturized narrative-dramatic form, which avoids trivialization by revealing a structure of continuity where a succession of individual Presidents behave according to bureaucratic type, and a process by which Presidents and politicians double-talk and obfuscate.

In regard to the 19th century, a parallel question arises: is there something in the then-prevalent allegoric and heroic (or mock-heroic) style which inherently tends to celebrate power and the abuse of power, even when the overt intention is to ridicule it? The (uncatalogued) cartoon by Herbert Johnson showing Taft on a bucking bronco comically reduces the President to cowboy status; but it celebrates him as a political showman and athlete. Similarly, the cartoon showing Nixon walking a tightrope between, Chinese and Russian summits diminishes him physically, but also makes him the heroic embodiment of the admirable qualities of equilibrium and courage.

Historically, and from its beginnings, political caricature has been premised upon the investment of certain individuals with special power, and upon the assumption that stripping the individual of that power or revealing its true (usually evil character, will remove or reform some social abuse. As a form of symbolic degradation, caricature attacks an enemy in a moral and psychological (that is,  “civilized”) rather than a physical  (barbarous”) way. In theory, this symbolic violence is a substitute for real violence. Yet the 20th century, when caricature became a universal social phenomenon has seen more generalized physical violence than any previous era. The effect and function of caricature in modern democratic societies has been not so much to inflict symbolic violence, but rather to foster in the populace the illusion of participating in government by virtue of their right to criticize it; and in this sense it has, together with other popular media with a like aim, functioned with remarkable efficiency.

A large proportion of these cartoons is concerned with party personalities and electoral maneuvers. The electoral systems of Western bourgeois democracies have postulated that the right to vote pre-designated individuals in and out of office will correct any major social abuses, on the theory that these abuses have arisen through the individual moral defects of leaders in the past. Cartoons which attack these abuses on this basis inevitably perpetuate this theory. Historical hindsight, of course, allows us to judge the extent to which an individual action was circumscribed by circumstance; no serious historian would blame President Buchanan personally, or even his administration alone, for the Civil War and the consequent bedragglement of the national symbol, as does an 1861 design by Michael Angelo Woolf. The cartoon is not really "fair," but in its simplicity it appears esthetically superior to most compositions of the pre-Nast age, so many of which look crowded.

Like excessive personalization, the striving for visual impact and epigrammatic brevity can serve to blinker political outlook, as much as it may enhance esthetic realization. By the very nature of its limited syntax and the requirement, which seems at once esthetic and practical, of instant legibility, the "good" cartoon today seems predisposed to oversimplify, to eliminate half-tones, connections, processes. This is not to say that cartoons should not take sides, but rather to pinpoint the phase they have reached in their historical development: latterly, they have denied themselves certain traditional functions—the capacity to explain, narrate, elaborate, to convey information as well as parti-pris—which the earlier (17th-18th century) allegorical print preserved.

A very high proportion of the exhibited U.S. cartoons from the first half or two-thirds of the 19th century seem, with their garrulous balloon dialogues and multitude of accessory figures, to offer evidence-in-court, rather than merely pronounce (and execute) summary sentence; but they are, to the modern eye, very dull or downright ugly. They are dependent, stylistically, on the caricature of the English "Golden Age," which addressed a politically sophisticated audience, and was redeemed, esthetically, by some extraordinary compositional and physiognomic skills which the American cartoonists lacked. But who is to say that their awkward cartoons were not as effective—or more effective—than the simpler images evolved later? We admire an 1848 lithograph showing Zachary Taylor as a cannonball for its “Daumier-like" reduction, more than contemporaneous cartoons with their old-fashioned textual and symbolic paraphernalia; but, lacking more information about the circumstances of their production and reception, how can we assess their historical role?

The potential cartoon audience is so much vaster and more heterogeneous than the "high-art" audience that this kind of question, difficult enough in relation to the latter, may appear well-nigh unanswerable in relation to the former. To what extent were even educated people conscious that the cartoon had evolved a language of its own, and possessed a tradition of its own? To what extent were cartoonists themselves conscious of the history of their chosen language, of the availability of alternative languages, of the existence of prototypes, as painters certainly were?

When one notes that an 1828 cartoon showing the head of Andrew Jackson composed of the corpses of his victims surely derives from a similar cartoon of 1813-14 showing Napoleon, by the Swiss artist Johann Michael Voltz, known and copied throughout Europe (pace the exhibition catalogue which is unaware of the prototype and calls the Jackson portrait "most original"); and when one relates the. Voltz, in turn, to a tradition going back (at least) to a 16th-century Arcimboldo portrait of Herod—can one assume that a contemporary would be familiar with this tradition, and therefore associate Jackson to historic prototypes in mass slaughter? If so, what would be the effect of such an association? To historicize him in this way could be to subject him to a form of unhistorical exaltation—or vilification. (There are modern Presidents who justify such a treatment more than Jackson, accused only of having executed four soldiers charged with desertion.) Cartoonists' weapons are such that they lend themselves all too readily to overkill; they are apt to swat flies with sledgehammers.

"Overkill" is a condition of cartooning generally accepted by artists, targets and public alike. The rhetorical sledgehammer is the basic tool and weapon of the mass media at large. Driven by their material and professional situation to producing regular copy whether there is a worthy political crisis or not, newspaper cartoonists are trapped, like their journalist colleagues, into sensationalism, trivialization, overstatement and distortion. In some respects the contemporary cartoon has come to resemble the screaming or catchy headline—a genus in itself which has become independent of and detached from serious analysis. It is true that certain cartoonists, such as Cobb, Feiffer and David Levine, escape bondage to the topical and trivial by drawing weekly or sporadically, and can illustrate a situation which has jelled. But even here lurks the temptation to place the arresting image or clever metaphor above clarity and relevance: a Levine-ish cartoon by Robert Pryor shows LBJ having broken all the eggs (i.e. "egghead" advisors) which Kennedy has passed on to him intact. Witty, for sure, and fun to see the mighty MacNamara and Rusk, etc. as so many dripping and shattered Humpty-Dumpties; but what does it mean to say that LBJ "broke" the advisors he inherited? Does the answer lie buried somewhere, obliquely, in the magazine the artist is illustrating (as is sometimes the case with Levine, regular cartoonist for the New York Review of Books)? The catalogue entry, alas, in discussing this cartoon, fumbles its way around some contradictions into a cliché-ridden encomium of LBJ, which, whatever the point of the cartoon, cannot be this.

The modern cartoon has skated over the surface of the deep despair and anger which has been experienced by many sectors of American society over the last decade, but which the media at large have smoothly iced over. The capacity and willingness of the cartoon to engage in radical social criticism would involve, I believe, less a change of language (although that might be necessary), than a total change in our concept of what criticism is for. Just as the doctrine of art for art's sake has been pretty well dismembered, so should we criticize the doctrine of criticism for criticism's sake.

Although the exhibition attempted, quite properly, to include some minority viewpoints in the form of lesser journals, lesser cartoonists, and even unpublished cartoons, these do not effectively mitigate the overwhelming impression of consensus about the American political system. Recent major breakdowns in this consensus, however, have taught us that it was never really as solid in the past as historians and politicians have led us to believe. Large and numerous groups of people—often, one suspects, the majority—have felt unaffected by the perpetual round of battles about Presidential tenure and power. This exhibition presented a monumental portrait of the Presidency, in the light of the myth that it is the most sparkling jewel in a perfect constitutional crown. If the jewel shows flaws, you polish them out (through criticism) in order to increase or restore its luster. You do not question the value of the jewel, or the legitimacy of the crown. No cartoon suggests that maybe (just maybe) it was the Presidency which corrupted Nixon, rather than Nixon the Presidency.

This caricatural portrait of the Presidency may have been "warts and all" but it was nonetheless something of an official one. The public portrait as used for purposes of self-aggrandizement by Henry VIII, Louis XIV or Napoleon, has fallen into disfavor in the Age of Electoral Democracy; its place has been taken (in part) by the cartoon. This substitution was beginning already in the early 19th century, when we find George Canning, future foreign minister, maneuvering anxiously (and using bribery) to achieve the coveted public "coming out" (as he himself called it) at the handoff James Gillray—in any role whatsoever, however ostensibly unflattering. The artist seems to have seen himself in a corresponding, respectful role: Thomas Nast shows himself bowing politely as his old "enemy," President Andrew Johnson, re-enters the political stage. Here, even the cartoonist is a gentleman. If this were true of the strongest caricaturist of his age, it is probably true of others, if not most, so that one is at a loss to understand what this catalogue's     entries mean when a cartoon or cartoonist is described as being "vicious" or “not so vicious." The repeated, loose and unexplained use of this term (and the like) bespeaks a serious confusion between what is the artist's manifest graphic language, and what may be his unknown psychological motivation.

This caricatural portrait of the Presidency may have been "warts and all" but it was nonetheless something of an official one. The public portrait as used for purposes of self-aggrandizement by Henry VIII, Louis XIV or Napoleon, has fallen into disfavor in the Age of Electoral Democracy; its place has been taken (in part) by the cartoon. This substitution was beginning already in the early 19th century, when we find George Canning, future foreign minister, maneuvering anxiously (and using bribery) to achieve the coveted public "coming out" (as he himself called it) at the handoff James Gillray—in any role whatsoever, however ostensibly unflattering. The artist seems to have seen himself in a corresponding, respectful role: Thomas Nast shows himself bowing politely as his old "enemy," President Andrew Johnson, re-enters the political stage. Here, even the cartoonist is a gentleman. If this were true of the strongest caricaturist of his age, it is probably true of others, if not most, so that one is at a loss to understand what this catalogue's     entries mean when a cartoon or cartoonist is described as being "vicious" or “not so vicious." The repeated, loose and unexplained use of this term (and the like) bespeaks a serious confusion between what is the artist's manifest graphic language, and what may be his unknown psychological motivation.

If the U.S. President is to be regarded as the "Leader of the Free World," the exhibition may be reproached with a certain ethnocentricity, which might have been relieved, by the inclusion of snore cartoons by non-American artists, such as the German cartoons from Simplicissirnus of 1914-15, which were included in the show. With their expressionist aggressiveness, they are graphically among the finest of the century, far more stylistically "advanced" than their American counterparts; they also evince a kind of distaste for the U.S. Presidential game not shared by home-ground spectators.

The relative lack of foreign representation added to one's sense that cartooning, like journalism generally in this century, has suffered from an inadequate sense of which events are of wider or international significance, and which are mere in-jokes, gossip, or factional jostling and bickering. It is significant that while major newspapers sometimes print articles from the foreign press, they scarcely ever reprint foreign cartoons. The material assembled for this exhibition testified to a historic isolationism not so much of U.S. Presidential policies, as of the U.S. press. Yet one wonders whether it would not have been possible to find more cartoons grouped, around major international events which are still (or again) being publicly controverted, such as: the seizure of the Panama Canal Zone, represented in only a

single American cartoon, which the catalogue entry treats as a dead issue; or the Rosenberg execution, represented in a fine French caricature (uncatalogued and hung very inaccessibly—furtively slipped in?) showing Eisenhower with electric chairs for teeth. The seizure of Cuba at the turn of the century as well as the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of that country do not figure at all. World War I is barely mentioned, the Depression is entirely omitted (replaced by the smiling teeth of FDR—disquieting, since there are signs that cartoonists today are becoming as distracted by a Presidential smile as their predecessors in the '30s). Even the representation of the Vietnam war, considering the magnitude of its political role over the last decade, is weak.

The exhibition catalogue is quite the largest (and by far the cheapest-per-size) with excellent full-page illustrations for each of the items listed (many more were actually exhibited, however). The documentary value of, so many illustrations and their accompanying explanations by political-science and art-history students, is obvious, especially with regard to the more recondite 19th-century material. The catalogue is prefaced by a brief survey-history of caricature by art-historian Peter Selz, and a rather longer essay by political-historian Thomas Blaisdell, Jr. The former undertakes the tricky task of intercutting political background, basic biographical-thematic caricature history, and observations on the various techniques of printmaking—a great deal of ground covered in so short a space. The attempt is in itself laudable, although necessarily sketchy, since it is not yet possible, in the present primitive state of research and thinking on the subject, to execute an "integrated" caricature history. Selz's conclusion is rather utopian, citing a remark by President Ford the pen is mightier than the politician." One only wishes it were true; since it patently is not, it is significant that our former President wanted us to think that it is—the remark is part of the public relations and press charade by which the public is deceived into thinking that an individual action, a dissident cartoon or its own Letters to The Editor, will influence decisions at the top.

Blaisdell's essay "The Changing Presidency" examines the fluctuation of the relationship between the President and the Congress; but it does so entirely without reference to those cartoons in the exhibition and/or catalogue which deal with this or any other subject—they are not at any point so much as mentioned, any more than caricature, as such, is. This is quite a feat of detachment, especially where the author refers to legislation making defamation of the President a crime! Actually, there is no internal evidence that Blaisdell's piece was written for the exhibition at all; from its literary style, level of interpretation and political stance, it would appear to have been lifted bodily out of a high-school textbook of the most pedestrian, mind-crushing kind. The show's wall-labels betray the same authorship and form a bizarre contrast with the wit of the cartoon captions; in them, there is a disturbing concern with "strong" and "weak" as the overriding criteria for the quality of a Presidency. More disturbing yet is Blaisdell's uncritical attitude towards U.S. history, which is still the softly contoured, ethnocentric, sycophantic myth which progressive historiography has been dismantling for decades. The author seems to have served in some academic Office of Circumlocution and Euphemism. It is particularly unfortunate that his liberal handwringing over Vietnam has spilled over into the students' domain of the catalogue entries, where the myth is sustained of U.S. "involvement" in a pre-existent civil war of indigenous origin rather than an exceedingly cruel imperialist adventure (catalogue entry No. 97). The entry here also carefully ignores the form of Oliphant's cartoon which plays upon the President's racist view of Asian "savages."

In the students' catalogue entries, the format is a political explanation followed by any pertinent art-historical or stylistic comment. It is unfortunate that the political and art history never really mesh. They stand strictly parallel, despite the exhibition's professed aim to "explore the relationship between art and politics." It is clear that the student-writers did a great deal of research, and it is disappointing that they unearthed—or mentioned—so little about the material conditions in which caricaturists operated. Censorship is scarcely referred to; yet one can hardly believe that it did not exist, or has covered its tracks so well that all evidence for its operations has disappeared. If there really was practically no overt censorship, the question of covert or tacit censorship, (or self-censorship) arises—and with it, a converse matter, the manner in which many cartoonists, in recent times, have been permitted to work well to the left of their journals' editorial line—the "court-jester" syndrome.

A historical caricature exhibition or anthology is under a special obligation to interpret not only the cartoonist's personal and conscious bias in a given situation, but also the historically-conditioned ideological limitations under which he is unconsciously operating. Once we are in a position to see those ideological limitations for what they are, and once we are sensible of the extent to which they still mold our thinking, we must expose them. A case in point is Mauldin's 1960 cartoon showing Eisenhower and his two chief foreign policy advisers as pilots, gazing in dismay at the wreckage of the CIA's U-2 spy plane shot down over Russia at the very moment when Eisenhower and Khrushchev were to hold their first summit meeting (which Khrushchev forthwith cancelled). "Who was at the controls?" they (and the cartoonist) ask in unison. The catalogue entry repeats the question, as if its very unanswerability were still the issue. The real question, however, that must be posed is surely another: Why did the U.S. (government and public) unquestioningly assume the right to fly spy-planes over the Soviet Union, when it would have treated the reverse situation as a casus belli? Like so many others in the American past and present, this cartoon asks the wrong question and diverts attention from the real issue, perpetuating the very attitude which provokes the eventuality it seems to deplore.

There are numerous sins of omission on the part of the catalogue. There are also sins of commission, in which the cataloguer's own political bias deforms the artist's intention. Paul Szep, who in 1967 was ridiculing LBJ's "papal" pretensions, later (according to the catalogue), at the time the President announced his decision not to seek reelection, altered his viewpoint so radically as to regard Johnson as a paragon of "humility, termination, and benign acceptance” showing Johnson on his knees pressing the sword of Unity to his belly in the approved hara-kiri manner, Szep "forcefully conveys the magnanimous depth of Johnson's gesture." Yet it is extremely doubtful that a cartoonist of Szep's stature would perform such a volte-face. Szep shows how public hostility to Johnson's war policy led rather to an interpretation of his "resignation" as the product of wounded vanity and rejection at the primaries. The self-sacrificial pose in the Szep cartoon is surely intended by the artist to show Johnson in a final, supreme act of hypocrisy—a character trait frequently targeted by cartoonists, and rendered here with splendid graphic force.

Similarly, it can only be by a quite extraordinary predisposition on the part of the catalogue-entry writer in favor of Nixon-Kissinger that the 1972 Grossman cartoon of Kissinger as Jiminy Cricket standing on the enormously elongated nose of Nixon as Pinocchio, can be read as a suggestion that "détente is a team effort, yet it questions who directs whom." This is patently absurd: the cartoon shows Kissinger maintaining himself on the Presidential nasal platform of lies—a very different matter.

The whole exhibition as installed at Berkeley was prefaced by a large replica of a 1776 American flag. The prominence of the U.S. flag, itself subjected in recent years to repeated "caricatures" in the form of poster parodies and symbolic and real desecrations of all kinds, seemed like both a warning and a reassurance: "Don't worry, folks, it's all part of the Great American Tradition—200 years of the Great American Freedom to Complain."

Hitler personally sponsored a book of cartoons against himself; Johnson gloried in the title of "the most denounced man in the world," and good-humoredly expressed to the national cartoonists association a wry admiration for the "joshing" they gave him. Yet, despite the feeble diplomatics of much of the exhibition's textual apparatus, and despite its overall lack of critical focus, there are break the confines of "loyal dissent" in which cartooning is still largely held. One must applaud, for instance, the inclusion (in the exhibition if not in the catalogue) of the unpublished, and still no doubt unpublishable (except in the "underground "), 1967 cartoon by Robert Grossman, showing Lyndon Johnson as a beaming Santa Claus, with a hideously napalmed Vietnamese child on his knee. One wonders whether this particular item would be accepted by the LBJ Library in Austin as just another example of the "joshing" any President is heir to.