Herb Block's cartoons on presidential campaigns typically caricature candidates, question party platforms and monitor the candidates' claims and attacks on each other, as he delves into their records and tactics. In the 2000 presidential campaignhis eighteenth as a cartoonisthe deals with issues that include the role of religion within the political arena and the need for campaign finance reform.
The pre-primary vote
Presidential campaigns appear to begin earlier with each election, and the races for the 2000 election were in full swing by mid 1999. Long before the presidential primaries, candidates and both parties had amassed unprecedentedly large war chests. These consist largely of "soft money," contributions to political parties, which can be raised and used in any way that does not actually mention a candidate by name. The direct primaries, which were designed to eliminate nominations by "party bosses" in "smoke-filled rooms" did not anticipate the ever-increasing effects of money in determining national candidates before conventions. For decades, Herb Block has been a constant, uncompromising advocate for controlling campaign funds.
"Said Alice . . . 'It's the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life'"
>In October 1999, presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan switched from the Republican Party to the Reform Party, creating divisiveness within the emerging third party as his political platform differed markedly from that of founder Ross Perot. In the meantime, real estate magnate Donald Trump had formally established his Reform Party candidacy. Trump was favored as the "Stop Buchanan" candidate, but in February 2000, he withdrew from the race. In August 2000, Patrick Buchanan accepted the presidential nomination from one wing of a decidedly split Reform Party. For Herb Block, the situation evoked one of Sir John Tenniel's famous illustrations for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
"Said Alice . . . 'It's the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life'", October 31, 1999. Ink, crayon, porous point pen, opaque white, and overlays over blue pencil underdrawing on paper. Published in the Washington Post (120) LC-USZ62-126894
"'A house divided' -- 'Preserve the Union' -- when does he get to the important thing -- telling us all about his personal religion?"
Personal religion has become a central issue during the 2000 presidential campaign, as most candidates have announced their religion and their beliefs. In this cartoon, Herb Block contrasts today's candidates with Abraham Lincoln, a man who could quote the Bible, but who kept his religious preferences to himself.
"'A house divided'--'Preserve the Union'--when does he get to the important thing--telling us all about his personal religion?" February 10, 2000. Ink, crayon, porous point pen, opaque white, and overlays over blue pencil underdrawing on paper. Published in the Washington Post (123) LC-USZ62-126924
"It's still a representative form of government -- they represent us"
The unlimited "soft money" raised by national party organizations can be spent on advertisements that skirt the campaign finance reforms brought on by the excess of the Watergate era. Herb Block has consistently pointed out that the skyrocketing campaign contributions and expenditures threaten "government by the people and for the people." As for "free speech" arguments, he says "that there is nothing free about sales of public office to high bidders, who buy and pay for elections and influence."
"It's still a representative form of government--they represent us," May 18, 2000. Ink, crayon, porous point pen, opaque white, and overlays over blue pencil underdrawing on paper. Published in the Washington Post (138) LC-USZ62-127456
Hare and Tortoise 2000
Aesop's fable about the tortoise and the hare became a metaphor for the 2000 pre-convention presidential campaign. Although faster, Al Gore, the hare, seemed to bounce around, while George W. Bush, the tortoise, wheeled steadily ahead. A Bush lead in the polls dropped after Gore's appearance at the midsummer Democratic Convention.
Blaze Congress, Stripper
On June 29, 2000, the Senate approved a House measure to force the disclosure of contributions and expenditures used by so-called "Section 527 Stealth Police Action Committees" to influence elections. The new law stipulated that Section 527 groups must register with the IRS, providing a modest measure of disclosure. Herb Block was not impressed by this limited effort to curb some secrecy in campaign finance and continued to believe that congressional big-money politics was not baring much of anything.
I made my decision after listening to ...
Many voters had felt enthusiasm for such candidates as Democrat Bill Bradley and Republican John McCain. But by mid-summer, George W. Bush and Al Gore solidified their hold on the major party presidential nominations if not the voters themselves. In this cartoon, Herb Block shows two voters who are turned off by listening to a speech by their candidate.
Dick and Dad will tell me all I need to know
On July 25, 2000, Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush selected Richard "Dick" Cheney as his running mate for vice president because of Cheney's broad political experience ranging from White House chief of staff to Defense secretary. Cheney's expertise and maturity was sought to dispel questions about Bush's relative inexperience, particularly in foreign policy. But Bush's selection of Cheney revived questions about the younger Bush's independence from his father's legacy and whether he won the nomination on the basis of his own strengths.
The Gore campaign had dropped in the polls when the addition of Senator Joseph Lieberman as Gore's running mate garnered media attention and gave his campaign a boost.