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Auchter's Art: Have we learned nothing?

comic featuring lee chatfield
John Auchter
Michigan Radio

In my house, the current quarantine binge watch of choice is the comedy series "Veep." My wife and I had seen a few episodes here and there over its run this past decade, but the dearth of live sports events to watch has afforded us the opportunity.

The show is hilarious. For those of you unfamiliar, it's the account of Selina Meyer, a fictional Vice President of the United States played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It starts in 2012 and tracks in current time, but the politicians (from Congress to governors to world leaders) are all fictional. Even better, there is never any mention of political party, no left or right, no conservative or liberal. So without the distraction of sides or tribes, the satire can stay focused on the people — the deeply, deeply flawed unrelentingly terrible people. Their awfulness is such an exaggeration that they are almost, well, cartoonish. And that's what makes it entertaining.

I realize now that I am attempting very much the same thing with the cartoon this week. I play up House Speaker, Lee Chatfield, and his recent actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic to reveal a point and (hopefully) entertain. I don't necessarily believe Chatfield is as awful as a character from Veep. I would like to believe that he has the best interests of Michigan in mind and those interests supersede his political ambitions.

He and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey seem quite intent on getting Michiganders back to work, which is great. But they also seem to be willfully missing hard lessons from our recent past (if, in fact, you can call the Flint Water Crisis "past"). So I hope what they are doing is not primarily political grandstanding because in the real world that's just not funny.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Michigan Radio listeners, readers, and reporters are rising to the challenge every day. If you can, please support essential journalism during this crisis.

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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