Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dark Waters

Swamp Sister, by Robert Edmond Alter (Gold Medal, 1961),
with cover artwork by Michael Hooks.

During last year’s U.S. presidential campaign, right-wing real-estate mogul and Republican candidate Donald Trump told his inflamed supporters that if they elected him to the White House, he’d “drain the swamp.” As Business Insider interpreted it, that catchphrase meant he would “cleanse Washington [D.C.] of political insiders who are out of touch with ordinary Americans.” It was also a commitment to limit the influence exercised on government by wealthy donors who can scrawl out big campaign checks—the sorts of people Trump claimed held sway over his dramatically more experienced Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Shortly after Trump’s unlikely win in that race, however, he began backing away from his famous “drain the swamp” pledge. One of his most visible Republican advisors, disgraced former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, told National Public Radio that Trump “just disclaims” his previous vow. “He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore.” With Trump having abandoned his promise, his inaugural committee felt free to peddle “exclusive access” to the president-elect and his advisors “in exchange for donations of $1 million and more.” Meanwhile, Trump commenced stocking his presidential cabinet with fellow plutocrats and Wall Street habitués, most of whom have no more familiarity with governmental procedures and traditions than Trump himself, or could ever realistically be described as being in touch with the needs of average Americans. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) voiced the disgust of voters (including many who’d cast their ballots for Trump) when he told Capitol Hill reporters in mid-January: “This is a swamp cabinet full of bankers and billionaires—a swamp cabinet.”

Although Trump no longer swears to “drain the swamp” of the nation’s capital, that phrase got me to thinking recently about how often the word “swamp” and swamp imagery have appeared on vintage paperback novels. The examples embedded in this post aren’t all that might be found, but they’re certainly representative of the field. Among the artists whose work appears here are Robert Bonfils (Swamp Bred), James Meese (Swamp Babe), Barye Phillips (Swamp Brat), Lou Marchetti (the second version of Evans Wall’s Swamp Girl shown below), and George Mayers (Castles in the Swamp).

Click on any of these images for an enlargement.


Rick Robinson said...

Fine post, and lead-in.

John said...

Great gallery of PB covers, and I like the theme, but let's not forget the "trail of tears" of false promises abandoned by many other candidates in American presidential history on their quest to walk the corridors of power. It's not the first time, and it certainly won't be the last. In the meantime, at least we can read junk novels to escape it all!

Old Folkie said...

Well, re: Trump, what else did his voters expect of him?

Nice sexy cover gallery, with just the right touch of romance to the end.

Shay said...

He's not draining the swamp; he's just changing the alligators.