Hypocrisy. The word itself is distasteful. Over the next few pages you will be shown the hypocrisy of American politics. In the political cartoon "Shameless Triumphalism," by Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle, the cartoonist uses all three of Aristotle’s appeals to prove the hypocrisy of the current political climate.
The cartoonist appeals to reason or logos by drawing on real life events. He appeals to emotion or pathos by outlining the irony of the situation. Last he builds credibility or ethos with the viewer as he points the viewer’s attention toward government leadership and political parties.
Before the analysis of this cartoon it is necessary to give some background information. The current president Barrack Obama, a democrat, was in office when the terrorist Osama bin Laden was caught and killed. Obama has used this as an example of his success in office. The Republican Party has accused him of using this to his advantage unfairly. With this background information here begins the analysis.
In this cartoon there are three figures: President Barrack Obama, Osama bin Laden, and an elephant representing the Republican Party. On the wall we have Osama’s head representing his capture and execution. Next we have Obama gloating over the accomplishment. Last we have an outraged looking elephant pointing at Obama.
The design of the cartoon is very logical. There are the three characters balancing each other out in spacing and size. This makes it so that the viewer’s attention is drawn to each element in turn. This is crucial to convey the overall message of the cartoon. It is also presented sarcastically with certain aspects of each character drawn irregularly. For example Osama’s beard is quite long, Obama’s ears are enlarged, and a crazed look is found on the elephants face. These small details are effective at creating a sarcastic atmosphere in preparation for the message to come.
Each figure in this cartoon carries a contrasting expression and demeanor. Despite Osama’s expression of death it can be expected the emotional reaction of the viewer will be mixed considering the charges laid upon him. In contrast we have a smug looking Obama, this helps guide the emotional reaction into the positive message "Look what I did." Then the viewer’s gaze continues to the outraged expression of the elephant once again stirring the viewer’s emotions and giving the conflict of emotions desired by the cartoonist.
Anderson is illustrating a topic that is quite divided among republicans and democrats, that of triumphalism. Triumphalism has two sides to it. The first is an attitude of victory or triumph. The second is a smug or boastful pride related to that victory or triumph. This can be applied domestically among political parties as well as foreign among other nations. The concern, however, is with the cartoon at hand. The emotions of each three characters in the cartoon mimic this atmosphere of controversy. They mirror the current disagreement of triumphalism.
Perhaps one of the strongest themes of this cartoon is that of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a commonly despised trait in society today. By utilizing this distaste for hypocrisy Anderson is accessing a goldmine of negative culture emotion and beliefs. In the depiction he shows Obama wearing a patriotic shirt that reads "Shameless Triumphalism". In response the elephant, or Republican Party, shouts "OUTRAGEOUS! THAT’S MY SHIRT!" The irony and hypocrisy of the situation is that the Republican Party is accusing Obama of doing something with which they are apparently familiar.
Nick Anderson is a well-known cartoonist with many popular works. However, the question is how does he create credibility within the work? He does this through the selected content of the cartoon. He chose to not only use the well-known images of Obama and the Republican Party but also well-known events. Osama’s death, Obama’s ownership of that, and the republican response are all real events. By drawing on these real events he is able to build credibility as someone who exemplifies truth.
What makes a cartoonist great is his or her ability to grab the emotions and ideas in the political air and piece them together into a cartoon that properly portrays that climate. Anderson effectively does this through logic. As a viewer looks upon this cartoon they see the word "OUTRAGEOUS!" and follow the pointed hand to Obama’s shirt "Shameless Triumphalism." Anderson relies on the logic of the viewer to infer the intended accusation and hence hypocrisy. This use of logic is a key weapon in his rhetorical arsenal.
As is first mentioned Anderson properly employs the use of Aristotle’s three appeals to reach the viewer of his cartoon. Emotion is perhaps the most widely used as the reader is torn from expression to expression of each character. Then he hits the cultural nerve of hypocrisy, sending emotions flooding through the viewer. And all the while he has built his credibility and logic as a firm foundation to stand on. He is both rhetorically sensitive and articulate.
Anderson, Nick. Houston Chronicle. Web 17 Sep. 2012