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Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. Twenty-eight years ago today, Americans lost a doctor, albeit one without a medical degree, who showed us for decades that laughter is often the best medicine. His name was Theodor Geisel and his writing also demonstrated that it is possible to sound silly while making piercing political points.

Born on March 2, 1904, Geisel was called “Ted” by his friends and family. Generations of Americans came to know him as Dr. Seuss. He passed away on this date in 1991, in La Jolla, Calif., leaving an entire nation immeasurably richer.

In a moment, I’ll have more on this children’s book author, whom I’ve been written about before. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * *

Poll: Dem Voters Span Diverse Views, Benefiting Biden. David Brady and Brett Parker have the details.

Socialism, Not Climate Change, Is the Real Threat. Emma Roberts counters the message of last week’s youth climate strike.

Climate Strike Coverage Eclipses That of Hong Kong, Paris Protests. Kalev Leetaru breaks down the numbers.

How Many Spy Targets in Russiagate? One…or Four? In RealClearInvestigations, Eric Felten examines a little-publicized Capitol Hill exchange suggesting that Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and George Papadopoulos were surveilled along with Carter Page.

As GM Fights for Its Future, Unions Hold It Back. In RealClearMarkets, Allan Golombek warns workers that increased automation is coming and the company’s production model must change.

“Reclaiming Common Sense.” Also in RCM, John Tamny reviews Robert Curry’s new book.

MLB’s Growing Gap Between the Best and Worst Teams. In RealClearSports, Evan Bleier spotlights the disparities laid bare by the number of teams with 100 wins vs. those with 100 losses.

* * *

Ted Geisel was born and raised in Springfield, Mass., a town that gave his father a job when he needed one. All four of Ted’s grandparents were German immigrants, and Geisel’s father had the bad timing to inherit the family brewery the year before Prohibition outlawed the sale of alcohol.

So his dad became the public parks overseer in Springfield, the city that inspired Geisel's first book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” Geisel wrote and illustrated the book, which makes use of the distinctive red Indian motorcycles used by the city’s police force.

After rejections from 27 other houses, Vanguard Press published the book in 1937, the same year that Geisel and his wife, Helen, learned they couldn’t have children. The author’s public reaction to this news about kids?

“You make ’em,” Dr. Seuss quipped, “I’ll amuse ’em.”

He did more than that. “The Cat in the Hat,” the book that made him rich, was partly a story about the Red Scare. “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back” had allusions to nuclear winter.

The name Dr. Seuss wasn’t entirely whimsical. Seuss was his middle name and his mother’s maiden name and he began using it as a nom de plume while at Dartmouth after being banned from extra-curricular activities -- including writing for a campus humor magazine -- when he was caught drinking gin in his dorm room with nine friends. (Prohibition was still the law of the land.)

After college he went into advertising and then into political cartooning, disciplines he straddled easily. He was discovered in 1928 after drawing a magazine cartoon depicting a knight in armor. “Darn it all, another dragon,” the knight says. “And just after I’d sprayed the whole castle with Flit!”

Flit was a household insecticide popular and effective for the same reason -- it contained DDT. The story goes that the wife of an advertising executive saw the cartoon and figured Seuss could write real ad copy for Flit. Her hunch was right, and Seuss employed his trademark sense of humor and knack for simple phrasing to help create an enormously successful ad campaign.

Oversized mosquitoes would descend on a child at a picnic and the kid's mother would call out, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” The phrase would enter the nation’s lexicon. Also present even back then was Seuss’s sense of the absurd. In one cartoon, a ventriloquist’s dummy notices a bug coming toward him. To the ventriloquist’s surprise, the dummy shouts, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!”

As a political cartoonist and occasional commentator, his views were aligned with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, perhaps to a fault. I say that not as a criticism of the New Deal or what came later but because while remonstrating against isolationism and racism in the 1940s, he rather casually accepted the Roosevelt administration’s mistreatment of Japanese-Americans.

In the summer of 1974, Dr. Seuss sent famed newspaper columnist Art Buchwald a copy of a 1972 book he wrote called “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” In the new version, the author had replaced “Marvin K. Mooney” with “Richard M. Nixon” (perhaps that was the idea all along). To some readers, these verses will have a contemporary feel to them. In any event, Art Buchwald reprinted them in his column:

Richard M. Nixon will you please go now!
The time has come.
The time has come.
The time is now.
Just go.
I don't care how.
You can go by foot.
You can go by cow.
Richard M. Nixon will you please go now!
You can go on skates.
You can go on skis.
You can go in a hat.
Please go…

Carl M. Cannon  
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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