Herblock Looks at: 1967 | 1966 | 1965 | 1964 | 1963 | 1962 | 1961 | Communism

Herblock Looks at 1962: Fifty Years Ago in Editorial Cartoons, Part II

In 1962, the second year of his presidency, John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) used his executive authority to impose economic and social change in the United States. He fought resistance from both Congress and the American people and moved forward with his program, called the “New Frontier,” to eradicate poverty, inequality, and prejudice. His administration successfully enforced desegregation at the University of Mississippi. It mandated that American industry benefit the American people. Kennedy persuaded Congress to stimulate the stagnant economy by ordering tax cuts. He also sided publicly with the Supreme Court ruling against school prayer.

Today, John F. Kennedy is often portrayed as a heroic president, but fifty years ago many Americans resisted his new policies. The 1962 mid-term election served as a referendum on Kennedy’s New Frontier program, with record numbers of African Americans enrolled as voters. Their support permitted the Democratic Party to hold sway in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Despite the promise of change, Herblock remained cynical about politicians and the backroom negotiations that went into running for office.

Exhibition dates: September 22, 2012–March 23, 2013

[Flag with dollar sign]

By illustrating a waving flag with a dollar sign above the United States flag, Herblock showed that he agreed with President John F. Kennedy—an increase in the price of steel in 1962 would put business profits ahead of the American people’s need for national security and a stable economy. President Kennedy actively influenced the steel industry by participating in a noninflationary wage agreement between union workers and management, and also pressured the steel industry into rescinding a price increase.

[Flag with dollar sign flies above the United States flag at a steel factory]. Published in the Washington Post, April 12, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (001.03.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05557] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Wait a Minute—That's Not What I Had in Mind”

Herblock used a precarious canoe ride to convey the difficulties of balancing the federal budget without tax reform. President Kennedy presented a narrowly balanced budget to Congress in January 1962, but it was at risk from those who demanded a balanced budget without forfeiting special tax privileges. Influenced by British economist John Maynard Keynes, Kennedy argued that tax reform was essential to move the economy out of stagnation. Kennedy’s “tax reform” oar offered the incentive of tax cuts to balance modification of privileges.

Wait a Minute—That's Not What I Had in Mind.” Published in the Washington Post, January 19, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (002.03.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05526] © Herb Block Foundation

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“It Looks Like a Real Free-For-All”

Herblock depicted the fight over tax reform in 1962 as a process that inflicted pain across party lines in Congress. The Democratic Party donkey and the Republic Party elephant duck for cover from the flying knives in the Senate. Influenced by British economist John Maynard Keynes, Kennedy believed that tax cuts could reinvigorate the stagnant American economy and pushed Congress to introduce reforms. However, it took several months for the House and Senate to agree on the terms.

It Looks Like a Real Free-For-All.” Published in the Washington Post, July 22, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (003.03.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05646] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Leaving Religion to Private Initiative Is Un-American”

When the Supreme Court ruled against state-mandated school prayer in public schools in 1962 in the case of Engel v. Vitale, several Congressmen protested the decision. In his support of the Supreme Court, President Kennedy encouraged Americans to pray privately, which further fueled the congressional backlash. Herblock criticized Congress’s proposal to mandate school prayer in this caricature of Senator James Glenn Beall of Maryland who led the call for an amendment to require school prayer.

Leaving Religion to Private Initiative Is Un-American.” Published in the Washington Post, June 28, 1962. Ink brush and graphite over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (004.03.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05631] © Herb Block Foundation

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Other Foreign News

In October 1962, James Meredith, an African American who believed that “a greater use should be made of the Negro potential,” enrolled at the segregated University of Mississippi in Oxford. When riots ensued and two people died, President Kennedy sent federal troops to Oxford. Herblock showed Meredith studying despite the taunts of white students. The title, “Other Foreign News,” and the students’ sign reading “Go Home American,” expressed Herblock’s belief that violent racists behaved as if they were exempt from the laws that governed the United States.

Other Foreign News. Published in the Washington Post, October 26, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white with overlays over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (005.03.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05716] © Herb Block Foundation

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“What Are You, Some Kind of a Fresh Air Nut?”

Herblock advocated campaign finance reform by showing a man, representing new legislation, opening a window to bring transparency to backroom politics. The President’s Commission on Campaign Costs released its report in April 1962 while the off-year election for House and Senate seats was underway. The Kennedy administration vowed to tighten campaign funding laws and proposed tax incentives to encourage small private donations to election campaigns, thereby reducing the reliance on a few wealthy contributors.

What Are You, Some Kind of a Fresh Air Nut? Published in the Washington Post, April 25, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (006.03.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05587] © Herb Block Foundation

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“I Understand You Plan to Sit Out This Dilemma”

Herblock depicted President John F. Kennedy riding an angry Texas longhorn, while a reporter inquires about the president’s role in the Texas gubernatorial primary. In 1962, John B. Connally, Jr., (a supporter of Vice President Lyndon Johnson), faced Don Yarborough, a Democratic Party candidate who embodied Kennedy’s liberal vision. The mid-term elections tested the popularity of the president’s programs, and, in the case of Texas, pitted Johnson’s conservative Democrats (who won) against the liberal Kennedy supporters.

I Understand You Plan to Sit Out This Dilemma.” Published in the Washington Post, May 9, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (007.03.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05597] © Herb Block Foundation

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“How Soon Do You Think We Can Get Away from Here and Still Come Back Next Year?”

A cynical Herblock portrayed members of Congress as elderly legislators focused on returning home to run for reelection and refusing to pass the legislation proposed by President Kennedy. Republican and southern Democrat lawmakers had not acted on bills for Medicare, youth employment, mass transit subsidies, and agriculture. Liberal Democratic congressional leaders threatened to hold Congress in session until October.

How Soon Do You Think We Can Get Away from Here and Still Come Back Next Year? Published in the Washington Post, July 25, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (008.03.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05648] © Herb Block Foundation

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“I Said, You DO Have Your Hearing Aid Turned On, Sir, Don't You?”

For the 1962 election campaign, Herblock used the metaphor of a door-to-door brush salesman whose patter goes unheeded, because he felt that the political races had bored voters into tuning out. In the 1960s less than two-thirds of eligible voters went to the polls. Newspaper articles pointed out that while African Americans were registering to vote in record numbers, the apathy of white voters kept the turnout low. Herblock reused this cartoon during the 1976 election, with minor modifications.

I Said, You DO Have Your Hearing Aid Turned On, Sir, Don't You? Published in the Washington Post, October 12, 1962. Reprinted in 1976. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white with overlay over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (009.03.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05707] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Let ‘Em Vote for Congressmen—Long As We Can Keep the Congressmen from Voting for Them”

Responding to the introduction of the Twenty-fourth Amendment intended to eliminate poll taxes and improve voting opportunities for African Americans, Herblock depicted B. Everett Jordan, a senator from North Carolina and chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, speaking to a stereotypical southern voter. The men begrudgingly accept African American suffrage while implying that they can still prevent passage of Civil Rights legislation. Civil Rights advocates argued that the Senate Rules Committee blocked key bills through the use of the filibuster.

Let 'Em Vote for Congressmen—Long As We Can Keep the Congressmen from Voting for Them.” Published in the Washington Post, December 19, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (010.03.00) [LC-DIG-hlb-05752] © Herb Block Foundation

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Herblock Looks at 1962: Fifty Years Ago in Editorial Cartoons, Part I

During the second year of his presidency in 1962, President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) pushed his national and international agenda. At home, he attempted to implement new policies that met with partisan opposition: assisting the unemployed, passing a jobs bill, and creating Medicare. Abroad, he increased military presence in Vietnam and he faced the Soviet Union’s premier Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) in a nuclear showdown known as the “Cuban Missile Crisis” in October 1962. The disarmament talks in Geneva did not go well and the doomsday clock ticked closer to midnight, signaling the increased likelihood of nuclear war.

Herblock developed his character “Mr. Atom” in 1946 to visualize the threat of nuclear annihilation omnipresent during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States from 1945 to 1990. He used Mr. Atom repeatedly in 1962 when Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev challenged American president John F. Kennedy. The Cold War confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States played out over nuclear missile placement in Cuba and Turkey at the same time diplomats in Geneva, Switzerland struggled with disarmament.

Exhibition dates: March 20, 2012–September 15, 2012

“You Really Think You Can Charm Those Birds?”

Among the measures President John F. Kennedy sought in his 1962 legislative agenda were aid to the unemployed and the creation of a jobs bill. Seeking bipartisan support, Kennedy played the moderate, asking Congress to “move America ahead.” As Herblock suggests, he met with stiff resistance in Congress even though the Democratic Party dominated both the House and Senate, here represented by two vultures. Herblock portrays Kennedy as a guitarist, suggesting that he needs stronger action in the shotgun held by the president’s cowboy sidekick.

You Really Think You Can Charm Those Birds? 1962. Published in the Washington Post, January 9, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (001.02.00) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-hlb-5518] © Herb Block Foundation

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“After All, It Doesn’t Have to Be a One-Way Street”

President Kennedy sent General Paul D. Harkins to Vietnam on February 13, 1962, to head American forces in the war against the communist Viet Cong, which immediately led the Chinese to criticize the United States for expanding aggression. Although Americans arrived to assist the South Vietnamese with military training, they were given permission to return enemy fire. Herblock uses the soldier here to sound a warning that the United States appeared to be on a path toward full-scale war and to offer the promise that backing out remained an option.

After All, It Doesn’t Have to Be a One-Way Street,” 1962. Published in the Washington Post, February 15, 1962. Ink brush, graphite and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (002.02.00) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-hlb-5537] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Hello—ORwell 1984?”

Under the Communications Act of 1934, evidence obtained by the federal government via wiretapping, even under warrant, could not be used in federal court. Frustrated, Attorney General Robert Kennedy (1925–1968) backed legislation introduced by Republican senator Kenneth Keating (1900–1975) of New York to limit federal wiretaps, and to continue the system of various existing state laws. Herblock shares a voice with the law’s critics, which included the American Civil Liberties Union, and uses the reference to George Orwell’s 1984 to express his belief in the importance of the right to freedom as expressed in the Bill of Rights.

Hello—ORwell 1984? 1962. Published in the Washington Post, April 1, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (003.02.00) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-hlb-5570] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Son, Let’s Not Be Too Dogmatic About This”

President Kennedy’s policies, including what came to be known as “Medicare,” went under the umbrella term “New Frontier.” In 1962, most insurers did not cover people older than sixty-five, many of whom were too poor to pay for private care. Initially Republicans resisted Medicare, but by May 1962, when the off-year election campaign began to heat up, some began to compromise. Medicare did not become law until 1965. Herblock portrays the Republican Party elephant as sick and elderly, intimating that aging congressmen had accepted the need for the law.

Son, Let’s Not Be Too Dogmatic About This,” 1962. Published in the Washington Post, May 2, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (004.02.00) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-hlb-05592] © Herb Block Foundation

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“It Doesn’t Hold Him Down, But It Annoys Hell Out of Him”

On June 15, 1962, after two days of debate, Congress approved President Kennedy’s request to increase the American debt ceiling by $8 billion to $308 billion. Congress began to enact limits on debt in 1917, when the United States needed to finance World War I. In 1962, when Republicans balked at voting for the increase and told the Kennedy administration to prune its budget, the Democrats threatened to take half of the reduction from the Department of Defense, compelling a Republican compromise. Here, Herblock portrays a congressman bemused by the attempt to put a lid on the growing debt.

It Doesn’t Hold Him Down, But It Annoys Hell Out of Him,” 1962. Published in the Washington Post, June 14, 1962. Ink brush, graphite and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (005.02.00) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-hlb-5620] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Once More Unto the Brink, Once More”

Soviet-American relations, tense during the Cold War, came to a head in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Aware that the Soviets had installed nuclear missiles aimed at the United States in Cuba, President Kennedy ordered reconnaissance flights on October 9, 1962, to assess his response. Herblock, paraphrasing Shakespeare’s Henry V, depicts Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev endangering world peace.

Once More Unto the Brink, Once More,” 1962. Published in the Washington Post, October 9, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (006.02.00) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-hlb-05703] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Just a Few More Shots and Then We Can Go On the Wagon Again”

In this cartoon, Herblock alludes to the Geneva disarmament negotiations, which stalled in March 1962. As the United States resumed atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in response to the Soviet’s nuclear testing in the fall of 1961, the Soviet Union declared that they would test yet more weapons. Here, Herblock likens nuclear testing to alcoholism, with a drunken Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev, offering another round to President John F. Kennedy, who also appears to have over imbibed.

Just a Few More Shots and Then We Can Go On the Wagon Again,” 1962. Published in the Washington Post, April 4, 1962. Ink brush, graphite and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (007.02.00) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-hlb-05571] © Herb Block Foundation

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“I May Still Have to Rely on Reckless Inaction”

On October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy instituted a shipping quarantine around Cuba in response to the Soviet build-up of nuclear missiles on that island. The Cuban Missile Crisis, as it came to be known, was a moment in the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States when détente almost reached the breaking point. Rather than depict missiles pointed at the United States, Herblock shows his famous character, Mr. Atom, blaming the failure of the Geneva disarmament negotiations for the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I May Still Have to Rely on Reckless Inaction,” 1962. Published in the Washington Post, October 25, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (008.02.00) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-hlb-05715] © Herb Block Foundation

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“Clock, Anyone?”

The Geneva Disarmament Conference—a series of diplomatic talks that led to the formulation of the Geneva Convention—opened on March 14, 1962, the day before this cartoon appeared. Herblock depicts his recurring character, Mr. Atom, holding a “cuckoo” clock that features a vulture and nuclear missiles as weights. Mr. Atom greets international diplomats as they enter a Swiss chalet to remind them that the clock is ticking on disarmament.

Clock, Anyone? 1962. Published in the Washington Post, March 15, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (009.02.00) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-hlb-05558] © Herb Block Foundation

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Tick—Tock—Tick—

Herblock uses the doomsday clock to symbolize the urgency of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. The Soviet Union aimed nuclear missiles at the United States from Cuba. In retaliation, the United States aimed nuclear missiles in Turkey at the Soviet Union. Using the political strategy known as brinkmanship, both sides stockpiled weapons while pushing each other toward the brink of war. The doomsday clock, created by atomic scientists in 1941, symbolizes the tension between countries that could lead to nuclear annihilation—the closer the clock is to midnight, the closer the perceived possibility of nuclear disaster.

Tick—Tock—Tick—, 1962. Published in the Washington Post, October 28, 1962. Ink brush, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (010.02.00) [Digital ID # LC-DIG-hlb-05717] © Herb Block Foundation

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Herblock Looks at: 1967 | 1966 | 1965 | 1964 | 1963 | 1962 | 1961 | Communism