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Auchter's Art: Since politicians won't speak truth to power, satirists will have to do

John Auchter
Michigan Radio

It was an interesting week in the worlds of political satire and journalism. 

The White House Correspondents' Dinner, specifically Michelle Wolf's stand-up, dominated all flavors of media — traditional, social, and otherwise.

If you haven't done so already, I'd encourage all to listen to the whole routine and not just somebody's opinion of what might offend you. Or if you don't prefer Wolf's voice, read the whole transcript (which includes a hilarious, self-effacing joke about her voice). There's even a shout-out to Michigan in referencing the 2016 presidential race: "It is kind of crazy that the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn't even in contact with Michigan."

I thought it was very well done. It was a fine example of what a satirist is supposed to do: present a well-crafted piece that speaks truth to power.

President Trump hid from the WHCD by scheduling himself a rally in Michigan. Feel free to experience his entire routine through video. But here again you may prefer the transcript — not so much to avoid Trump's voice, but all those Benito Mussolini poses he throws when he thinks he made a good point. One such point had to do with the Soo Locks:

“You know what the Soo Locks are?" Trump said to cheers from the audience. "Well, the Soo Locks are going to hell. You know that, right? And we’re going to get them fixed up. We’re going to get them fixed up.”

First of all, asking a Michigan audience whether they know what the Soo Locks are reveals that Trump probably has no idea where they are, let alone what they do. I'd spot him Lake Superior and the Straits of Mackinac on a map and still feel pretty confident he couldn't find them. And the fact that he thinks they are going to hell, well, more federal money for maintenance would be welcomed I'm sure, but the real need is for a bigger lock to accommodate bigger ships.

But, who knows, maybe this obvious bit of audience pandering is what is needed to move the Soo Locks project forward. Maybe if Brian Calley goes to Washington to pay homage and stroke the president's ego, we will get the money.

But that's exactly why we need satire. Somebody has to speak truth to power.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
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