The Democratic Nomination


 “Will the Gas Hold Out?”
  Cartoonist:  Edward Windsor Kemble
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   February 29, 1908, pp. 18-19

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Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon lampoons the long-windedness of William Jennings Bryan. To the amusement of the Democratic Donkey, Bryan flies a dirigible powered by his own hot air. The rickety machine’s patched balloon is leaking, and it flies so low that the candidate’s feet have broken small limbs off the treetops. It does not seem possible that it will last the long distance to the Democratic Convention (although in reality, he did win the nomination). The labels on the balloon convey the message that Bryan is a huckster. The title of his magazine, The Commoner, is segmented so that the first three parts sound like the term for an enticement or advertising pitch—“the come-on”—and the “er” may be meant to suggest “err” or “air.” The subtitle of the airship identifies Bryan as a patent medicine “doctor”—i.e., an unlicensed seller of ineffective potions and pills. W. A. Rogers was the longtime political cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly (having succeeded Thomas Nast), but he was joined in 1908 by the artist of this cartoon, E. W. Kemble, who had previously illustrated literature and drawn small cartoons for the publication.













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