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When I saw today's editorial cartoon in the the daily paper of the city where I live, I felt sick. I don't think the cartoon is available online, and wouldn't want to give the paper any ad revenue with a link anyway, so there is a photo of it below the fold.


To suggest that Barack Obama could for a moment see the happening and yet-to-happen storm destruction as his political salvation, is as offensive as it is ignorant.

I'd leave it at that. It's not worthy of further comment. But some explanation of the context where it was printed (in Christchurch, New Zealand) is warranted.

The cartoon has the prime space on the widely read editorial page of the sole daily paper in a city where we are no strangers to the immediate effects and political aftermath of a natural disaster. The newpaper headline depicted ("Chch quake saves Parker's mayoralty") refers to Christchurch, where we are still recovering from a sequence of earthquakes and aftershocks that began just over two years ago. In late 2010 the center-right mayor Bob Parker was looking on track to be defeated by a progressive left-wing opponent, but the first earthquake struck weeks before voting and he received a revival in popularity to win re-election.

Most people in Christchurch have experienced at least one form of personal or economic loss, hardship or disruption, as the quakes have forced thousands of homes and places of business in the city to be demolished and the rebuild continues to be very slow. (My family was lucky, having minimal home damage and no employment impact, but I knew two of the nearly 200 people killed by the Feb 22, 2011 quake.)

There is great interest in the American presidential race here. In the papers it dominates the World sections and is the frequent subject of editorial cartoons. Many of them have been on the mark, but this one falls far short. It certainly doesn't reflect the general sentiment about the storm and presidential race I am hearing here, which is hope that people stay safe, recover from the damage quickly, and get a fair chance to participate in the election.

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