Before it came down, Telnaes explained the cartoon this way:
There is an unspoken rule in editorial cartooning that a politician's children are off-limits. People don't get to choose their family members so obviously it's unfair to ridicule kids for their parent's behavior while in office or on the campaign trail -- besides, they're children. There are plenty of adults in the political world who act childish, so there is no need for an editorial cartoonist to target actual children.On balance, I agree with the decision to take the cartoon down. Yes, Cruz is using his daughters as props (in more than one video release), but I can't remember a time when politicians didn't trot out their kids to win votes. Hillary Clinton is making a great show of being a grandmother right now, but Telnaes didn't single out Clinton or her granddaughter. Clinton's granddaughter is a baby, but Cruz's kids aren't much older. They're doing what their parents want them to do.
I've kept to that rule, except when the children are adults themselves or choose to indulge in grown-up activities (as the Bush twins did during the George W Bush presidency). But when a politician uses his children as political props, as Ted Cruz recently did in his Christmas parody video in which his eldest daughter read (with her father's dramatic flourish) a passage of an edited Christmas classic, then I figure they are fair game.
The monkey imagery also bothers me. I'm Italian-American -- my people are the ones who used to be mocked with organ-grinder-and-monkey imagery. Cruz's daughters may look more like their blond American mother, but Cruz is Hispanic. When you depict a darker-skinned person's child as a monkey, you're in racist territory.
But now that I've said that, I'll add this: Cruz and his fellow conservatives love to rail against "political correctness," regularly treating that phrase as a free pass that allows them to offend anyone and propose anything, but I guess something is sacred to Cruz and his ideological allies. It would be nice if this moment led them to recognize that other people can be legitimately outraged. It's more likely, though, that they'll continue to insist on their own right to umbrage, while treating everyone else's grievances as illegitimate.
Oh, and this, posted by a conservative blogger shortly before Telnaes removed the cartoon from Twitter, is not accurate:
Wow, she's leaving it up. A Right winger would be fired by now: https://t.co/Y0p9QKJ72U— DanRiehl (@DanRiehl) December 23, 2015
No, a right-winger would not be fired by now. Recall 2009, when the New York Post published this cartoon by Sean Delonas:
At first glance, the main editorial cartoon in today's New York Post seemed like just another lurid reference to the story that the tabloid had been covering with breathless abandon for two days running - the shooting by Connecticut police on Monday of a pet chimpanzee that viciously attacked his owner's friend.The Post did ultimately issue an apology, after first defending the cartoon. But was Delonas fired? No -- he continued to work for the Post for four more years, until he took a buyout in 2013. So, sorry, you don't get fired if you're conservative and you do something like this -- at least not if Rupert Murdoch signs your paychecks.
But the caption cast the cartoon in a more sinister light. "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," it read, prompting accusations that the Post was peddling a longstanding racist slur by portraying president Barack Obama, who signed the bill into law yesterday, as an ape.