Sad Sack, circa 1944, by Sgt. George Baker. In Franklin D. Roosevelt’s time, Uncle Sam was adept at mobilizing American popular culture — the thinking of a country historically skeptical about authority and rank — for war.
Corn on the cob
by Eric Jackson
Holy Week come and gone, me with a bit of catching up to do, and multiple primary campaigns off and running today.
I bring a lifetime of political activism, decades of journalism of the non-corporate, anti-corporate kind, various formal education degrees, and the warped influences planted in me by a mad doctor dad that continued to grow long after he died to bring to bear in campaign coverage.
Cartooning? My dad exposed me to Mad Magazine, the works of Chas. Addams and, in today’s perusal of the news, Sgt. George Baker’s WWII cartooning with Yank and then later — as in Sad Sack. Baker was a Disney cartoonist and a union man who didn’t get along so well with the reactionary Walt Disney, but in any case he got drafted and the US Army set him to work cartooning, both in animated film clips and drawing for Yank. The latter, which got republished in book form, was more for explaining to folks on the home front and mobilizing their support than for entertaining the troops, although it did both. And there was this well-nigh ubiquitous skewering of the USO, as represented by the puffed-up, fake smiling “Corn on the Cob” entertainment.
Yep, corny stuff. Mickey Mouse when the troops of that era were far more interested in the Warner Brothers wise guy Bugs Bunny.
In modern-day Panamanian politics, we have Gaby Carrizo.
The party establishment has rallied around the guy, for the most part.
Yes, the most brazen whiskey and cigars sorts of vote buyers will like National Assembly president Crispiano Adames. In Veraguas the other day, some PRD Youth activists met with and boosted the legislator. The problem is that most Panamanians despise the National Assembly and the games that this iteration of it plays.
Then there are the old timers, some of the living party founders and younger folks whom they have inspired, who yearn for the legendary mix of populism, pragmatism and nationalism attributed to the late General Omar Torrijos, running for the PRD presidential nomination in the person of former legislator, reputed former urban guerrilla and former party secretary general Pedro Miguel González. The insiders with their conventional wisdom have affixed the loser label on the guy, but not so fast.
The anointed one is vice president and banking lawyer José Gabriel “Gaby” Carrizo. The image problem? His smile and gestures look fake. The things he said and did last year when Nito was out of the country getting medical treatment and he was left in charge reinforced the impression. Corny and unconvincing. Pure corn. Corn on the cob.
So, what does a guy with such an affliction, in a country suffering under a post-epidemic crime wave, do about his and the nation’s affliction? Why, label himself “tough on crime.” Bring in a campaign consultant for a guy notorious for his mass arrests of gangsters — and a few who aren’t but just got caught up in the sweeps. Bring in Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s campaign consultant. As in Víctor López, who has been flown in to do what Panamanians don’t do, elect the same party to power in back-to-back elections.
Uh huh. “¡Vamos con todo Gaby!” The PRD base is with you, we are told. Jump on the bandwagon, we are urged. Trite enough, maybe sufficient for intra-party consumption, but in the general scheme of things, borderline ridiculous.
We’ll see how it goes, in the June 11 primary and if he gets past that, in May of next year.
For Panamanian preferences, ground hard corn, wrapped in leaves and steamed into bollos, sells better. But this country still does have a market for corn on the cob.
Gaby’s consultant, Víctor López, a Spaniard who worked for Bukele.
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