Day by Day purports to be a right-leaning political comic strip and has pretentions of being the conservative Doonesbury. Sadly, it is not so good as that. Doonesbury is only about a 4 out of 10 on the funny scale on a good day anymore (that’s somewhere between a smirk and a chuckle), and Day by Day is, well, competitive with that.
The problem is, Chris Muir misses more than he’s hitting with the political commentary side of things. Garry Trudeau at least is paying attention to what’s going on, even if he can only rarely find something funny to say about it. Muir seems to either have a tin ear to political phenomena or is getting his talking points from Red-Colored Kool-Aid Central. Take today’s strip, for instance. Now, come on. The Senate’s refusal to seat Senator-Designate Burris is quite obviously unrelated to his race. Attempting to paint Harry Reid as a racist for this falls deadly flat. It’s not accurate and it’s not funny. (If it were accurate, it might be funny.) There are a lot of other things you can criticize Reid for. He’s apparently incapable of gracefully handling controversy. He’s a partisan blowhard. He’s hardly the most effective leader Senate Democrats could have chosen for themselves. He’s kind of a dork, or at least dorky-looking. But racist? No, he’s not that.
I hadn’t followed Day by Day for several months after giving up on it in February, and recently I tried to give it another chance. I figured that with a Democrat coming in to power, there might be more material for him to work with. Muir seems to be focusing on Barack Obama’s arrogance and the media’s sycopancy of him, which are quickly becoming yesterday’s news.
See, the thing of it is that Obama is being humbled — the Bill Richardson flap, the suggestion that Rahm Emanuel may have been caught up in the Blagojevich corruption, and today, criticism that Leon Panetta may not be a good choice to lead the CIA. He is not being humbled all at once, but that’s not how these things work. It’s the beginning of the torture of a thousand cuts rather than a sudden disgrace à la Monica Lewinsky. There seems to me to be decent raw material for humor there. Apparently, though, this isn’t good enough — Obama must be brought down completely and immediately, before he is even inaugurated. Maybe Muir is part of a radical pro-Biden splinter group of comic strip authors; that would certainly explain things.
Maybe I’m too tough a crowd. But preachy comedy is rarely funny. And sometimes it takes a while before comedians figure out what’s funny about someone. Clinton and Bush the Younger were pretty easy; Saturday Night Live figured out very quickly what made them funny. But what about Bush the Elder? It took nearly a year of his administration before Dana Carvey started hitting the impression just right and found the elements of his personality and mannerisms that were subject to comedic exaggeration. Obama may just be a tougher nut to crack than Bush the Younger or Clinton were. And his arrogance is almost certainly only a small part of it.