An Inscrutable Cartoon [Updated]

Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of cartoonist Michael Ramirez. Not only that, we are close personal friends on Facebook, which speaks for itself. I love Michael’s cartoons (if I can call him that, being FB friends and all), and have posted lots of them here. Steve has posted many more in his The Week In Pictures feature.

I like today’s cartoon, obviously released in anticipation of Thanksgiving tomorrow, only I don’t get it. Here it is. Click to enlarge:


So, what does it mean? “I thought he was with you” is an old movie or TV line that would pop up when a couple of guys were going to, say, a party, and a third guy sneaks in with them. So is Barack trying to crash a turkey party? That doesn’t seem right.

Maybe Barack is sneaking in, under the guise of accompanying one of the actual turkeys, in order to do mischief. That would be in character. Plus, on the day before Thanksgiving, one thinks of the rituals involving presidents, turkey pardons, chopping off turkeys’ heads, and so on. Still, that doesn’t quite seem to fit. Has Barack sneaked among the turkeys to decapitate one or more? Where is his ax? And can anyone imagine Barack doing anything that manly? No.

So, much as I like the cartoon, I confess that I am stumped. The cartoon expresses a certain pictorial perfection–Barack and two actual, biological turkeys. Still, I don’t get the joke.

It happens pretty often that I don’t get jokes or, more generally, references. Typically the reference is to a rapper, a television program, soccer, or something else that no sensible person would pay attention to (sorry, Paul). But Ramirez isn’t like that. I feel sure that these turkeys aren’t rappers. So: I put it to our readers (and to Michael Ramirez, if he sees this and wants to weigh in): what, exactly, is the joke here? Is it just a president-chops-off-a-turkey’s-head reference? Maybe. But if so, where is the ax, and what is the point? Who are the turkeys?

I am stumped. If you can help, please weigh in with a comment.

UPDATE: Michael Ramirez has written to explain the cartoon, which, he says, is intended to convey a simple message. His explanation is here.