As a political cartoonist, my focus is generally on the state of New Jersey, where I draw cartoons for The Press of Atlantic City and syndicate them throughout the state. New Jersey's environment of corrupt politicians, high taxes and a diverse state split between Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi creates a perfect storm for cartooning.
Here is a collection of my Top 10 Cartoons of 2009, in no relative order. I hope you enjoy them, even if you're only reference point for The Garden State is MTV's 'Jersey Shore.'
The year started off with Barack Obama's election, and from the very start, the media felt the need to portray him as mythic. There was even true concern that comedians and political cartoonists wouldn't be able to make fun of him. Almost a year later, I'm glad we've been able to prove them wrong.
Here's a cartoon of favorite target, former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine. Most of the cartoons I do are local to New Jersey, and Corzine proved to be a perfect symbol for a broken state. His approval ratings were upside down in an overly democratic state, and was dependent on Obama's popularity to pull him through the election. Didn't really work out.
One of the reasons people hated Corzine was he came into office under the guise of being a financial whiz-kid due to his time with Goldman Sachs. Instead, he leave with him a record of raising taxes, pushing up tolls and passing the ever-increasing burden of deficits and liabilities to future generations of New Jerseyans.
During the gubernatorial campaign, Corzine's popularity was so bad, he chose to avoid local media outlets and constantly appeared on cable channels CNBC spouting his thoughts on the recession, allowing him to avoid New Jersey's problems.
2009 saw Sarah Palin, everyone's favorite Teabagger, resign from her post as Governor of Alaska. She didn't want to be a lame-duck Governor that made tons of dough peddling a book around the country, so she left to spout her Main Street inanity through Facebook and Twitter. My favorite quote about her book Going Rogue comes from the New York Times Book Review: "Going Rogue, in other words, is a four-hundred-page paean to virtuous ignorance."
Although Barack Obama campaigned against marriage equality, he has supported gay marriage in the past, and did run on eliminating the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. However, when opportunities to fight for gay rights were presented (Maine, New York, New Jersey), the silence from Obama, who seems to never be far from a television camera, was deafening.
The Independent candidate in New Jersey's Gubenatorial race, Chris Daggett, found it hard to gain traction in a media environment more focused on traffic incidents, weight and catty politics than substanitive policy discussions.
Republican candidate Chris Christie, who gained political gravitas through his conviction of corrupt state politicians as U.S. Attorneys, began to become unraveled by questions surrounding earning Karl Rove's loyalty and the politicization of the U.S. Attorney's office.
Ultimately, Chris Christie would go on to win New Jersey's Gubernatorial Election, becoming the state's first elected Republican Governor since Christie Tood Whitman was elected in 1994. His reliance on talking points about tax cuts is equally matched by is inability to back it up with specifics.
Chris Christie hasn't even officially become Governor of New Jersey, yet he's aleady approved more borrowing, something he campaigned against. At least he's going to make 2010 an interesting year.