Taft and Bryan Compared


 “The Safer Choice”
  Cartoonist:  Udo J. Keppler
  Source:  Puck
  Date:  October 21, 1908

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
Puck began publication in 1876 as a humor magazine representing the sound-money, tariff-reform wing of the Democratic Party. In 1896 and 1900, the magazine chose principle over party when it opposed the election of Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan. Puck’s publishers and cartoonists considered Bryan’s advocacy of free silver and other populist policies to be too radical, economically unsound, and socially dangerous. It did not support Republican William McKinley in either contest, but was an equal-opportunity critic. In 1904, Puck backed the Democratic presidential nominee, Alton B. Parker, a conservative who reflected the magazine’s political perspective.

In 1908, Puck was much less vitriolic toward Bryan when he won a third nomination, and even suggested in a July 8 cartoon that the Democrat might win the election. However, late in the campaign, in this October 21 cartoon, Puck endorsed Republican William Howard Taft for president over Bryan. (Note that the cartoon does not appear on the cover page.) The Great Commoner is portrayed in a dignified manner, but with only “Promises” in his pocket. Uncle Sam prefers “The Safer Choice”: Taft, a man of considerable administrative experience to help steer the ship of state. Four years later, Puck did not support Taft’s reelection, but endorsed Democrat Woodrow Wilson for president.













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