Herblock Looks at: 1970 | 1969 | 1968 | 1967 | 1966 | 1965 | 1964 | 1963 | 1962 | 1961 | Communism

Herblock Looks at 1970: Fifty Years Ago in Editorial Cartoons, Part II

During the second year of President Richard Milhous Nixon’s (1913–1994) term, his handling of domestic issues led Herblock to pick up his ink pen and brush and express his opinion. He focused on the impact of inflation on the economy, the decline in school funding, and likened the oil industry’s stranglehold on the nation’s power supply to an octopus. The cartoonist derided the nation’s antiquated missile system. Finally, he reacted to an early report about pollution and global warming.

Mid-term elections led Herblock to address the irritation of negative television advertising and its effect on the political climate in the United States. He celebrated the inclusion of teenagers—some of whom were eligible to serve in the Vietnam—in the election process. He noted the increasing role computers played in assessing public opinion. Finally, even though it was a mid-term election season, he felt that the Electoral College prevented the people from truly electing their president.

These ten cartoons—with new drawings introduced into the exhibition every six months—have been selected from the Library’s extensive Herbert L. Block Collection in the Prints and Photographs Division.

Currently on view online only as all Library of Congress buildings and facilities are temporarily closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.

September 2020–March 2021

“BUT ON THE AVERAGE, WE’RE DOING OKAY”

By using a sinking ship as a metaphor for the economy of the United States, Herblock showed the dual effect of a stock market on the downturn and inflation. Despite the Nixon administration’s efforts to impose stricter fiscal and monetary policy, unemployment and inflation continued to rise. The cost of the invasion of Cambodia and the prolonged Vietnam War had a negative impact on the proposed budget. As a result, the Dow Jones—a measure of investor confidence—plummeted.

“But on the Average, We’re Doing Okay,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, May 22, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (001.19.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07522 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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MATH LESSON

By depicting President Richard Nixon as a ruler-bearing school teacher with an economics lesson on the blackboard for two impoverished children, Herblock expressed his opinion that the administration focused on the wealthy to the detriment of the poor. The Senate had just passed legislation intended to increase school funding in 385 Congressional districts that included Title I funding for the poorest students, school libraries, and vocational training. Citing the need for “budget stringency,” Nixon vetoed the legislation on January 27, 1970, although he later offered a compromise budget.

Math Lesson, 1970. Published in the Washington Post, January 27, 1970. India ink, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (002.19.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07437 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“ALL I WANT IS JUST ALL THE POWER THERE IS”

Having learned that the National Economic Research Association compared the oil industry to nineteenth-century trusts, Herblock represented oil companies as a greedy octopus grabbing up energy assets. Coming at a time of unprecedented increase in the use of electricity, legislators feared that corporate and individual consumers would face a stranglehold on the price and control of power. The Senate proposed legislation to regulate the petroleum industry’s investments to protect consumer interests, but it did not pass.

“All I Want Is Just All the Power There Is,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, September 11, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (003.19.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07599 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“NEVER MIND IF IT DOESN’T WORK —THINK OF IT AS A CONVERSATION PIECE”

By depicting the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system as an antiquated mishmash of weapons barely held together with rope, Herblock voiced his opinion that the billions of dollars necessary for the inclusion of Minuteman missiles in the “Safeguard” system were unworkable. By placing an empty diplomatic table in his cartoon, he also presumed that ABMs were unlikely to improve U.S. negotiations with the Soviets in Vienna during the impending Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.

“Never Mind If It Doesn’t Work—Think of It As a Conversation Piece,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, August 9, 1970. Graphite and India ink with overlay over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (004.19.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07575 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“WHAT’S THE OUTLOOK FOR THE LAST THIRTY YEARS OF THIS CENTURY?”

As a man representing either a businessman or a bureaucrat laughs at pollution, Herblock depicts a horrified scientist gazing into a crystal ball of death. In December 1969, two scientists, Edward D. Goldberg (1921–2008), an oceanographic chemist, and Joseph O. Fletcher (1920–2008), a RAND Corporation physical scientist, warned that humans had “only a few decades to solve the problem” of global warming due to the toxicity of pollution. In 1970, as pollution became a national issue, President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency.

“What’s the Outlook for the Last Thirty Years of This Century?” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, January 4, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white and overlay over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (005.19.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07422 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“THINK WE’D BETTER TAKE ON AN ASTROLOGER, JUST AS A BACKSTOP?”

As Edward Heath (1916–2005) and the Conservative Party employed the widespread use of the computer in campaigning and had upset the Labour Party in the British elections, Herblock imagined a conversation between President Richard Nixon and a pollster. In the United States, the off-year election primary season had begun. In addition, Nixon was obsessed with public opinion of him as a leader, as Herblock’s inscriptions on the drawing of the computer indicate. Here, the pollster suggests that Nixon would be better off hiring an astrologer.

“Think We’d Better Take on an Astrologer, Just As a Backstop?” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, June 24, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (006.19.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07545 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“I’D FEEL BETTER WITHOUT THAT GUY SITTING IN THE BACK OF THE COCKPIT”

Here the cartoonist draws the Electoral College as a disguised man sitting in a plane’s cockpit and waiting for the real pilot labeled as the “popular vote,” who gazes up at his unwanted passenger. Herblock supported legislation to eliminate the Electoral College. In 1969, Senator Birch Bayh introduced a constitutional amendment to abolish it, and while the legislation passed in the House, it failed in the Senate. During his career, Herblock depicted the Electoral College as an archaic institution and his cartoons were invoked during a 1977 Senate debate.

“I’d Feel Better Without That Guy Sitting in the Back of the Cockpit,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, September 15, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white with scraping out over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (007.19.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07601 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“OUT, DAMNED ‘SPOTS’!”

Herblock’s everyman, John Q. Public, angered by negative election advertising, raises a fist at his television set. Politicians spent an unprecedented amount of money on commercials, which was unusual for a mid-term election. Because television breaks down advertising into blocks of fifteen seconds, each commercial was called a spot. With his love of literary allusion, Herblock paraphrased Lady Macbeth in Act 5 Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in calling for the spots’ removal.

“Out, Damned ‘Spots’!” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, October 6, 1970. India ink, graphite, opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (008.19.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-12000 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“GREETINGS—YOU HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED CITIZEN 1-A”

As the House sent legislation granting 18-year-olds the right the vote to President Nixon for his signature, Herblock depicted Congress opening a voting site to a teenager. Teenagers with 1-A status, eligible for military service, demanded the right to participate in the election process. Although Nixon signed the bill into law, he criticized it, arguing that statute was insufficient, and a constitutional amendment was required. The Supreme Court, in Oregon v. Mitchell, concurred. Congress ratified the 26th Amendment on July 1, 1971.

“Greetings—You Have Been Classified Citizen 1-A,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, June 18, 1970. India ink, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (009.19.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07541 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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ROAD MAP

As the returns from the mid-term election came in, Herblock visually quoted the argument made by Senator Edmund Muskie on national television on November 2, 1970, in which he stated, “the basic political divisions in the country were not between radical and reactionary, conservative and liberal or Democrat and Republican but rather between the politics of fear and the politics of trust.” Herblock placed a politician, his face obscured by a road map, trying to find a way forward.

Road Map, 1970. Published in the Washington Post, November 3, 1970. Graphite and India ink over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (0010.19.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07636 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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HERBLOCK’S PEN

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Herblock Looks at 1970: Fifty Years Ago in Editorial Cartoons, Part I

During the second year of President Richard Milhous Nixon’s (1913–1994) term, his handling of both international and domestic issues led Herblock to pick up his ink pen and brush and express his opinion. Anti-crime legislation led him to imagine unwarranted investigations into people’s private lives, while he imagined consumers trapped by import quotas and trade restrictions. Herblock focused on the partisan nature of proposed Nixon administration welfare changes. With the famine in the Biafra region of Nigeria, Herblock fell back on the trope of death with its scythe. He used the capture of Angela Davis as an opportunity to opine about the gun lobby.

One of the leading issues of 1970 was the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration justified the invasion of Cambodia as a means to prevent further communist incursion into South Vietnam. Herblock, like many cartoonists, used the swamp as a metaphor for the mire in which not only the soldiers fighting the war but the politicians who controlled it found themselves.

These ten cartoons—with new drawings introduced into the exhibition every six months—have been selected from the Library’s extensive Herbert L. Block Collection in the Prints and Photographs Division.

Exhibition dates: March 20, 2020–September 5, 2020

“I HAVEN’T AGREED TO ANY ARMISTICE”

Igbo Christians in Biafra attempted to form a separate country in 1967 and were almost immediately cut off from food and supplies by Nigerian troops. When the break-away Republic of Biafra surrendered on January 15, 1970, ending the two-and-a-half-year civil war in Nigeria, Herblock greeted the news by depicting starvation as the victor. Within a decade of gaining independence from its European colonizers, Nigeria struggled to build a stable government. The international community was horrified by the enormity of the starvation.

“I Haven’t Agreed to Any Armistice,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, January 13, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (001.18.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07427 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“OPEN ADMINISTRATION”

As the House and the Senate considered anti-crime legislation for Washington, D.C., that permitted “no-knock” entry and wiretapping, Herblock imagined a world in which honest citizens had reason to fear personal intrusion. Critics argued that the law violated rights introduced in the Constitution to counter similar British actions. However, as crime had become a political issue, the Nixon administration decided to make the District its test case. President Richard Nixon signed the legislation as the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970.

“Open Administration,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, March 19, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing, with overlay. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (002.18.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-18341 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“BEAT IT, FELLA”

After the FBI captured Angela Davis (born 1944) in a Manhattan hotel on October 13, 1970, Herblock cynically examined the gun lobby. Davis, a UCLA philosophy professor, fled California after a gun she had purchased was used by her bodyguard to commit murder. Due to the Gun Control Act of 1968, the California gun registration system was useful in determining that Davis had purchased the weapons the Soledad brothers had used in the crime. The Gun Lobby, which actively sought to strip that element of the law, gives the FBI the limelight.

“Beat It, Fella—All We Want Is the Final Scene,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, October 18, 1970. Graphite, India ink, tonal film overlay, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (003.18.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07625 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“THE BETTER TO PROTECT US FROM INTRUDERS, MY DEAR”

Herblock showed his preference for free trade by comparing the proposed presidential and congressional import quota legislation as a lock on the door that trapped consumers, here represented by Little Red Riding Hood, with the wolf. President Nixon and Congress reacted to the increase in American unemployment and the shift in market dominance away from the United States by proposing import quotas. The trade bill failed in 1970, and with pressure both from Japan and the European Economic Community, Congress backed away.

“The Better to Protect Us from Intruders, My Dear,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, December 30, 1970. Graphite and India ink with overlay over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (004.18.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07675 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“DON’T JUST STAND THERE—DO SOMETHING!”

As President Nixon’s Family Assistance Program (FAP) legislation stalled in the Senate, Presidential Counselor Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) publicly blamed Senate Democrats for failing to act. Herblock, without pointing a finger at one individual, showed the burden of the Republican elephant overwhelming the flimsy platform on which Nixon established his program. Unhappy with the bureaucracy and expense of the existing welfare program, Nixon sought to streamline the process, and found a sympathetic House and a reluctant Senate. In the end, FAP failed to pass.

“Don’t Just Stand There—Do Something!” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, September 1, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (005.18.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07591 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“IT'S THE NIXON DOMINO DOCTRINE—YOU KEEP ADDING PIECES”

As Vice President Spiro Agnew (1918–1996) traveled to Southeast Asia to renew the United States’ commitments to Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam, President Nixon refined his doctrine of providing monetary aid and military training to help countries defend themselves. As the United States struggled to secure Vietnam, it turned its attention to neighboring countries, Laos, Thailand, and especially Cambodia. The fear that if Cambodia fell to communist control, so would Vietnam, led to the use of the domino theory as a metaphor, here expressed visually by Herblock.

“It’s the Nixon Domino Doctrine—You Keep Adding Pieces,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, August 27, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (006.18.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07588 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“IS IT TRUE ABOUT YOUR KEEPING POLITICAL PRISONERS CAGED UP?”

Herblock compared the report of the entrapment of Vietnamese political prisoners in “Tiger cages” to the inability of the United States to extricate itself from the Vietnam War. After a congressional inquiry exposed the inhumane treatment of prisoners on Con Son Island off the east coast of Vietnam, the government of President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu (1923–2001) transferred the prisoners, but the main prison did not close until 1975 when United States troops withdrew from Vietnam.

“Is It True About Your Keeping Political Prisoners Caged Up?” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, July 8, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white with paste-on over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (007.18.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07555 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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THE TUNNEL AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

As President Nixon announced that he feared that North Vietnam was pushing into Laos and Cambodia to further undermine American troops in South Vietnam, Herblock portrayed the personification of the United States plunging into an abyss. Although President Nixon gave a schedule for troop withdrawal from Vietnam during the same address to the nation on April 20, 1970, he threatened reprisals in Cambodia and Laos. Eight days after this cartoon was published, President Nixon announced that American troops had invaded Cambodia.

The Tunnel at the End of the Tunnel, 1970. Published in the Washington Post, April 22, 1970. India ink, graphite, opaque white and paste-on over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (008.18.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07501 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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“YOU SEE, THE REASON WE'RE IN INDOCHINA IS TO PROTECT US BOYS IN INDOCHINA”

Pairing a white and an African American soldier in Indochina in the immediate aftermath of U.S. troops’ entry into Cambodia, Herblock satirized the Nixon administration’s explanation that the invasion was necessary to protect troops in Vietnam. The presence of the African American soldier in this cartoon signals a change in American armed forces policy. During the Vietnam War, nearly 13 percent of the U.S. Army was comprised of African Americans serving voluntarily, who were fully integrated into the forces.

“You See, The Reason We're in Indochina Is to Protect Us Boys in Indochina,” 1970. Published in the Washington Post, May 5, 1970. India ink, graphite, opaque white and paste-on over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (009.18.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsc-03466 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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OPERATION WILL-O’-THE-WISP

Herblock depicted President Richard Nixon wading through a swamp, which had become a cartoonist allusion to wars in Vietnam and Cambodia, lured by a will-o’-the-wisp beckoning him to victory. Herblock may have had the poetry of John Gay in mind, “How Will-a-wisp misleads night-faring clowns / O’er hills, and sinking bogs, and pathless downs. . . .” Nixon pursued war in Cambodia in the belief that by attacking communists there, he would end the Vietnam War faster, a belief that few journalists shared.

Operation Will-O’-The-Wisp, 1970. Published in the Washington Post, May 14, 1970. Graphite, India ink, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing. Herbert L. Block Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (010.18.00)
LC-DIG-hlb-07516 A 1970 Herblock Cartoon, © The Herb Block Foundation

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Herblock Looks at: 1970 | 1969 | 1968 | 1967 | 1966 | 1965 | 1964 | 1963 | 1962 | 1961 | Communism