Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dropping the pilot, then and now

In 1890, the young Kaiser Wilhelm II fired Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian and then German chancellor who had created Wilhelm's empire for him. The British cartoonist Sir John Tenniel (famous now for his illustrations for Alice in Wonderland) turned this into the classic picture "Dropping the Pilot" (referring to the practice of hiring a pilot to get an ocean-going ship out of the harbor, who of course left the ship after the job was done):
Steve Bell, virulently anti-Bush, anti-Blair cartoonist for the Guardian, has this version in tomorrow's edition, referring to the firing of Donald Rumsfeld:
An illustration, if you will, that it's sometimes hard to read even the political cartoons in the paper without a sense of history.


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