Call it an informal referendum on Texas secession, or maybe just one on the relevance of newspapers and comic strips--G.B. Trudeau's Doonesbury spent all of last week making sport of Texas in its series on secession, and hardly anybody noticed.
The strip featured venerable Doonesbury character Uncle Duke and his son Earl, who work as lobbyists, taking on a new "breakaway republic."
"Not the Kurds again . . ." Duke said.
"No. Texas," Earl replied.
The Dallas Morning News ' Christy Hoppe was just about the only member of the media to take note of the strips beyond a tweet--a marked change from the response to Trudeau's scathing series about our state's sonogram law .
That wasn't the first time Trudeau turned his attentiont to Texas, either. In September of 2011 , Trudeau devoted a week to then-presidential candidate Rick Perry. Wrote Hoppe:
"The nationally syndicated cartoon apparently has Texas in its sights. It’s the third time in 15 months that a weeklong strip has been devoted to Texas and its leaders."
“I wasn’t aware I’d been picking on Texas a lot lately,” creator Garry Trudeau responded in an email.
He even resorted to the always-suspect line that some of his best friends are Texans.
“My assistant of 41 years grew up in Texas, although his most conspicuous personal quality is modesty, so he may be lying about that,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau, a modest Texan is nothing to brag about.
On the second day of the Doonesbury secession series, Trudeau got to revisit one of his longest-running targets:
"It's too late now . . . the Bushes have already spread to other states," Duke said. [Italics ours.]
"But the Perrys haven't," Earl retorted. "This could contain them!"
(Governor Rick Perry, of course, has said that he is not in favor of secession.)
As shown in the panel on the left, Trudeau also gave an indirect nod to Austin's counter-petition , which requests that the liberal state capital remain part of the United States.
He brought up SXSW again in his email to the Morning News: "The cartoonist blamed President George W. Bush, Perry, and state lawmakers who 'have so damaged your brand that most people up here would be happy to see the state go, assuming there’d still be some sort of airlift into Austin during March,'" Hoppe wrote.
Memo to SXSW Interactive: here's your 2014 keynote speaker . . . assuming we'll still let him in the state.
Doonesbury's own Blowback site for reader comments included a Texan who approved, one Sydney Busch of Dallas:
A fourth-generation Texan--once a proud one--I look at Texas, home to greats like Sam Rayburn, Lyndon Johnson, Lloyd Bentsen, and Ann Richards, and I am embarrassed and appalled at what has happened to this once great state. The inmates have indeed taken over (beginning with W and Karl Rove). I give you total and complete permission to skewer Texas. (I know you were waiting for my permission.) I am sad and angry.
While a Texas expat, Jim Lollar of Chattanooga, Tennessee, suggested that the satirist should have known better:
I'm a transplanted Texan, and while I love Doonesbury and follow it every day, I'm a bit disturbed by your recent rant against this stupid secessionist movement in my fair state. Like all states, we have our share--some would say more than our share--of reactionary morons, but I think even they, in their heart of hearts, don't really want this to happen. Okay, I guess such stupidity really should be lampooned, but please don't lump us all together and lead people to think all Texans are that way. It is after all 120,000 from a state of over 26 million, an extremely tiny, but vocal, slice of the population.