Friday, December 17, 2010

Politicians still can't escape Houdini

Political pundits and cartoonists just love Houdini. They always have. In Gibson's The Original Houdini Scrapbook you can see political cartoons from the 1920s depicting “Houdini Sam” suspended in a “Pacific Alliance straight jacket,” and Congress boxed in a Houdini-like packing crate marked “Bonus Dilemma.”

More recently, Rush Limbaugh posted up a version of Houdini's King of Cards poster with President Obama as Barry Houdini (I still don't get it), and in England the Mail Online doctored a photo of then Prime Minister Gordon Brown under the headline: Even Houdini couldn't get out of this.

Now The Economist brings Houdini back into the conversation with their article, Barack Houdini Obama. You can read the politics over there -- I'm just here to show you the cartoon.

Illustration from The Economist

For the record, Houdini himself, while fiercely patriotic, was largely apolitical. He didn't belong to any of the political parties, was said to have voted only once in his life (for Warren G. Harding in 1920), and was an admirer of both Republican Teddy Roosevelt and Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

In fact, President Wilson anticipated a century of pundits when he said to Houdini in 1914: "Sir, I envy you your ability of escaping from tight places. Sometimes I wish I were able to do the same."

Houdini at The White House

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