Trump After Trump #30

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

Need a Young, Pro-Life Supreme Court Justice? Think Huge.

I don’t know about you, but this is the first time I can think of that I’ve seen an ultrasound drawn in a comic strip. They’re grainy and low-fi as it is – translating that to ink on paper is a tricky endeavor.

I guess I’m having it both ways in this comic strip right now. Today, September 26, 2020, we’re in full Supreme Court mania in the U.S., but I’ve set this comic strip on December 7, 2020, after a Biden win in November. So, the chronology is off, but the spirit is similar: we’re dealing with a Supreme Court nomination during an election period.

I think the story works, even though I’m using a story set in the future to talk about current events.

God, I love fiction.

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Trump After Trump #29

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

It Feels So Good When Someone Really GETS You

Trump wouldn’t be the first sad case to find true companionship with someone who can’t speak for themselves. There’s definitely the fascinating question of the extent to which we bond with our pets versus how much we project onto them. Trump doesn’t strike me as a pet owner – you have to do things to keep them alive and healthy. How does that make him money or polish his reputation?

But, what if he had a doll, like Don-Don? No feeding, no trips to the vet, no walks or litterbox maintenance. All you have to do is have someone run Don-Don through the laundry from time to time, and you’re good.

And, Don-Don is the perfect person to listen to Trump, because Don-Don has no ears or language-processing capabilities.

How many people in Trump’s circle envy Don-Don?

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Trump After Trump #28 (Sunday)

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip - full-color Sunday comic

Trump and His Best Bud Don-Don Say Their Night-Night Prayers

I wrote this comic to explore more of the gap between Pence’s Christian faith and Trump’s amoral narcissism. But, when I started drawing, Trump needed to look more like he was ready for bed time.

I dressed him in gold silk, T-covered pajamas, then considered having him hold a stuffed elephant. Trump has never been a big party loyalist – his biggest loyalty being to himself – so Don-Don the stuffed, little Donald Trump doll just emerged from my pencil. I started laughing, and the strip immediately was at risk of being completely hijacked by this little orange guy with yellow yarn hair!

I’m going to enjoy seeing how Don-Don adds to this world. Frankly, he is much needed: thinking about Donald Trump every day for this comic strip is taking a toll on me, so a little toy Trump should help open up the world a bit.

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Trump After Trump #27

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

So Much Undoing – So Much Left Undone

On the eve of Thanksgiving, Trump and Pence hang out on the Truman Balcony and reflect on all they’ve accomplished in their brief four years. In an effort to make America great again – that apparently effective phrase of turning the clock back to a mythical past – their administration has put a lot of energy into undoing what many of us consider to be important achievements.

To take environmental protection as just an example, the Trump administration has reversed 74 environmental regulations in under four years, according to the Brookings Institute. While there is room for intelligent debate about the costs and benefits of specific environmental regulations to business and to civilization, when you step back and see how much environmental protection has been undone since 2017, it is sobering.

Just looking at clean air, let’s say climate change is 100% a hoax. (It’s not.) If we were to continue to be aggressive about keeping our air clean and using regulations to hold industrial polluters accountable for clean air, we could save lives and dollars. Lots of lives and lots of dollars.

In 2016, many publications, including Time magazine, reported on a World Bank finding that air pollution kills between 3 and 5 million people a year. Moreover, cleaning up the air globally would save the world economy $225 billion a year.

So, if you have a partisan motivation to deny climate change, which may, in turn, motivate you to support environmental deregulation – don’t worry! You can go ahead and support regulating industry to help clean our air and save the health, well-being and lives of millions of people, AND you can save trillions of dollars over the years! What is unconservative about that?

But, back to Trump, this information is of no use to him. To Trump, being business-friendly means removing money-making barriers from the world’s biggest polluters and externalizing the cost of doing business to the rest of us.

In this way, Trump is very much like a mob boss. Sure, what he does is morally wrong and hurts a lot of innocent people, but he makes money and takes care of his family. Isn’t that what we romanticize in The Godfather, The Sopranos, etc?

Do we take care of our own no matter the harm it causes others, or can we do better?

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Trump After Trump #26

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

Call Names and Rewrite History – It’s What Winners Do

Trump seems like a person who acts on raw instinct more than premeditated thought, so maybe today’s comic isn’t that plausible. Like a plant that turns away from shadow and toward the sun, Trump uses language intuitively to distance himself from the perception of failure and to associate himself with anything worth taking credit for.

“All politicians do this,” one might rightly say. But, as we often overlook in the name of tribal, political affiliation, it’s a matter of degree. Trump turns it to eleven. As in 2016, when people didn’t know who to vote for because Hillary and Trump were both seen as undesirable candidates. Really? Given the choice, what would you rather eat, an overripe, smashed, brown banana, or a turd? Neither is a great option, but one is clearly worse than the other.

And presidents certainly take credit and shirk blame for things as they can. They inherit recessions and wars caused by their predecessors, for example. But Trump is unprecedented in his brazen historical revision.

P.S. An apology to all the plants out there who take offense to my analogy comparing them to Trump. I love plants.

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Trump After Trump #25

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

COVID Joe, a Nickname Masterpiece, a Prediction of Historical Revision

I wonder how long it would take Trump to start blaming COVID fallout on Biden, if Biden were to take office in 2021.

I also wonder if these jokes are funny only to one person. In this case, I laugh at Pence reading the Bible every chance he gets and Trump holding the phone close to his face and using the remind function on a smartphone to make sure he doesn’t neglect something important.

I also wonder, “What’s going on in this comic strip? Like, big picture?” I feel like these strips add up to a sense that, in a lame-duck presidency, there isn’t much to do but wait around for your predecessor to redecorate the Oval Office and give you the friendly boot. I’m sure presidents find plenty to do with the three or so months between election and inauguration, but it’s more fun this way.

Waiting around, killing time, starting companies that sell face masks, inventing killer nicknames and hashtags.

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Trump After Trump #24

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

COVID Don #CovidDon

Don’t you love images of older folks crowding around a cell phone?

I think the size of our readership here at Trump After Trump is not quite at that tipping point where we can get people everywhere to start calling Trump “COVID Don,” but maybe if I make two comic strips in a row on the subject, that will help…

So, what do we have here? Older gentlemen squished together looking at a phone, some silly close-ups of Trump’s exaggerated facial expressions (I didn’t have to invent much – he does so much of the work for the artist) and more humor at the expense of what we presume to be Pence’s sensitivity to adult content.

At some point I really need to push this story past January 20, 2021, so we can really see what Trump might be like after the Trump administration…

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Trump After Trump #23

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

COVID Don

Trump minimizes and bullies people by giving them diminishing nicknames. “Lyin’ Ted.” “Crooked Hillary.” “Low Energy Jeb.” No need to get into the details about his mastery of manipulative oration.

One way to win is to always be the one who stoops lowest. I don’t think anyone would say that going low is honorable, ethical or good for the republic; but, as Trump is demonstrably amoral, what does he care about honor, ethics or the common good? Power is his currency, and power is conveniently amoral, too.

So, I wonder if he’s ever surprised that people don’t stoop to his own bully tactics to try to beat him. My guess is he doesn’t care, because he knows he will always go lower. Honestly, if anyone else were president right now he’d be calling them “COVID [name]” all day, every day.

And his supporters would love it every time.

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Trump After Trump #22

Trump After Trump Comic Strip 4-panel strip

Blame It on Hillary

I have gotten a little feedback that my comics present Trump as a lovable buffoon. So that leaves me asking myself questions, and here are two of them:

  1. Are we so used to seeing negative portrayals of Trump that are so extremely monstrous that my attempt to show him as a horrible human being are too subtle?
  2. Are my attempts to portray Trump with nuance and subtlety not working?

My instinct is to remember that people – no matter how awful the things they say and do – are human beings and not monsters. My upbringing in the Episcopal church helped nurture my compassionate worldview and, ironically, influenced my eventual embrace of secularism and humanism over the conservative Christianity I was raised with.

But, that’s just where I’m coming from – it doesn’t mean my comics are any good. What I need to do is make sure my portrayals of Trump are neither glib about his negative impact on the world nor cowardly about telling it like it is.

As a cartoonist, I want my comics to show that even with subtlety and nuance, Trump is still a bad human being who is bringing out the worst in a lot of people and seriously harming what decent moral standing the United States still has in the world.

Back to Blaming Hillary

Since I was a young conservative person in Oklahoma, I have been aware of the thriving, multimillion-dollar industry built around loathing Hillary Clinton. When I was younger, it seemed kind of mean. Certainly un-Christian. But as I got older and watched the industry achieve its ultimate goal of keeping Hillary out of power in 2016, this anti-Hillary movement became for me a symbol of many troublesome things about slices of American culture – sexism, male fragility, rage at the diminishing role of traditional Christianity in American life, demonizing those who disagree with you, scapegoating…

So, my hope is that Trump loses in November 2020, but, sadly, I expect that he will likely pick up where he left off with bullying everyone he can, including ol’ Hillary. (Not that she is a blameless victim herself, but, come on, can’t we do better than enabling the empire of Hating Hillary?)

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