This past Sunday, November 2, after 28 years (well, 20 if you don't count the 8 year hiatus between Outland and Opus), Berkely Breathed and his bow-tied alter ego departed the pages of the Sunday comics section, with, if I can be honest here, more of a whimper than a bang. The most recent incarnation of the strip never really lived up to Bloom County in its heyday or even Outland at its best, but in all its forms, Breathed's strip has been one of the highlights of the comics section and will be missed. Luckily, I have all of the books, so I shan't be missing Opus too much.
Among Breathed's many accomplishments is his 1987 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. However, the events of last night throw into serious doubt Breathed's skills as a political fortune teller. In a sequence of strips from 1988 (which I intended to scan on Saturday to accompany this, but I chose instead to have a total emotional meltdown. We won't go into that in a parenthetical phrase. However, if you're reading along at home, said sequence is reprinted on pages three and four of Night of the Mary Kay Commandos and page 148 of Classics of Western Literature.), "deeply Democratic" Tom Binkley is beset with a "liberal Democrat guilt fit" because he thinks "Jesse Jackson is kinda loopy." He goes on to say, "Jesse can give a heck of a sermon...and he rhymes well...But I'm sorry...I...I just don't see him as the leader of the free world."
To assuage his father's anguish, young Mike Binkley calls on Oliver Wendell Jones' father, Frank, who assures Tom, "Speaking for blacks worldwide, we don't hate you!" and goes on to predict that "The first black in the White House will be a conservative."
To be fair to Breathed, given the political climate of the time (a time that extended to about six months ago, in truth), this was a perfectly reasonable assumption. And if Colin Powell had ever chosen to toss his gold star festooned hat into the ring, it most likely would have become reality.
Instead, last night, this nation elected to lead it the man described by his GOP critics as the most liberal member of the United States Senate.
It's funny, though, that four years ago, John Kerry was the most liberal senator. And I'm sure that if the race for the Democratic nomination had gone differently, you can just guess who would have found herself tagged as the Senate's most liberal member.