Posted by Rojas @ 9:07 pm on February 16th 2007

Democratic Candidate Emblems

In the spirit of Adam’s post below.

John Edwards: The hyena. Grins a lot; doesn’t seem capable of bringing down any meaninful prey on his own, but is more than capable of growing fat off of the carrion created by deadlier predators.

Hillary Clinton: The puffer fish. Prickly exterior; can fool unintelligent observers into thinking it’s a bigger deal than it is; might well prove to be poisonous to whichever predator ends up devouring it.

Barack Obama: The squid. Superficially impressive and intimidating; we don’t really know much of anything meaningful about it; impressive array of suckers attached.

Dennis Kucinich: The lemming.


  1. I don’t know if this will impact upon your views of John Edwards or not, but contrary to popular belief, hyenas are highly effective, powerful hunters. The normally hunt at night, however, so their hunting prowess is rarely seen.

    In fact, I would assert that a hyena is the animal that would represent an ideal politician and leader. As I think about it, I’m finding myself actually starting to like John Edwards, given his very obvious resemblance to a hyena, certainly in appearance if not in behavior—his thick neck, his full head of hair, his gaping grin…it’s all there. Now let’s see if his behavior also matches.

    [FYI, I got my original thoughts on this from too much animal planet, BBC and PBS programs. That said, I got the info on hyenas below from Wikipedia. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to the original authors and researchers for what I’m about to do to their years of wildlife observation and analysis. Now, back to our program]:


    Hyenas are highly adaptive, intelligent, and efficient hunters, using both their strength, stamina, and strategy to both get their kill and ensure that they have devoured their kill whole.

    –Outlasting the opponents and finishing the job quickly:
    Like a good politician, “hyenas do not kill their prey directly. Having been chased to exhaustion, their prey is unable to mount any further defense of itself, and is captured and eaten while still alive. Although somewhat distasteful from the human [read–non politician] perspective, the speedy disembowelment of prey means that death often comes sooner than with other methods of killing …[or] less efficient means of eating which lessens the probability of the kill being lost to another predator.”

    –Hyenas adapt their social structures and their hunting strategy to the environment in which they live. Where game (including large game) is plenty and non-migratory, they will “live in large clans with established hunting territory.” When they live in isolated areas, with less, smaller, and more migratory prey, hyenas don’t need large groups to, for example, take on Rhinos. Moreover, there is no need for a hyena clan to take and hold territory. Thus, the clans will be far smaller, and will have no designated territory; the hyenas will be more likely to hunt alone or together depending upon what is needed. In other words, they organize to be as effective as possible in their environment (as a good political party ought do).

    –Some hyena clans have been observed specializing in hunting specific types of prey. One clan may have specialized in hunting wildebeest, whilst another has specialized in hunting zebras. This way they focus upon and what they are best at, building their skills, and increasing their ability to work together as a team. They also LEARN from past mistakes in this manner, and get better with each hunt.

    –And let’s not forget that by hunting at night the politician, excuse me, I meant to say hyena, is able to hide its raw power, it’s skill, its acumen from the common man. With a shit eating aw shucks grin, and a devil can care laugh, the hyena appears to be highly effective at getting, staying well fed, without Joe public having to know all the dirty work and tricks and stalking that made the results possible.


    Now, it would be wrong to ignore the fact that hyena’s are scavengers. They get the mass of their food from hunting, but the scavenging cannot be ignored. And is that so wrong? I’d say no. There are a couple ways to look at this.

    –Scavengers are needed to deal with the horrible messes that the rest of us would rather pretend aren’t there. It is nature’s cleaning machine. It has one of the strongest jaws in the animal kingdom, which can easily crush bone—and hooves, and everything else that might remain of a corpse. When it eats, it eats everything, skin fur, hooves and bones, and its powerful intestinal tract processes it all, without taking on any diseases from the corpse. Like a good politician.

    –The hyena scavenges because it can: given it’s special capabilities in digesting half-eaten corpses, the hyena would be a fool to say no. I mean, it COULD leave that fine, lovely looking gazelle just lying there to rot, but it would be so…terribly wrong not to eat it up. On top of that frankly, the hyena is a bit of a bully, it picks on smaller animals, and will steal their kills (or lunch money, or completely tear apart the legislation of an unlikable junior congressman to score points). And it is powerful enough to do this a lot. There are few other animals that a hyena has to fear. If it has to take on larger prey (lioness or tiger), much like a politician in the wild, a hyena will hunt in a pack (find allies) and use strategy. And if they cannot hunt in a pack, they will run. So a hyena’s status as a scavenger is a direct result of its power. And at the end of the day, we’re all attracted to powerful leaders, though you’d best be hunting as well.


    Amongst their own, hyenas avoid conflict, and avoid bloodying themselves unnecessarily. The hyenas in their own packs generally recognize who is in power and is not. If a non-member enters another hyena pack’s territory, the hyenas in the pack will all start pissing like crazy, making clear whose turf it is, and the non-member will skulk away, avoiding a fight. Generally, politicians are pretty good a recognizing when there is a bigger hyena around, and letting that bigger hyena take the lead. Even when Junior Senator Edwards ran for vice president, far earlier in his career than many would expect, there was no doubt that Kerry was the presidential candidate—that was the proper order of things at the time. Kerry took no steps that would burn bridges with the higher ups in his party (or pack, if you will). Generally, the longer a senator has been around, the more power he/she has and the more likely he/she is to have control of a committee. This isn’t to say that there aren’t sometimes independent positions taken, but they are taken within the realm of reality and in recognition of the order of things. Pissing contests happen ALL the time, but rarely draw blood. Take the fighting between McCain and Obama. One day, pissing all over, talking bad about each others’ mothers. At the end of the day, they showed respect for each others’ positions in a manner that both sides could say it was water under the bridge. Then, they turned around and co sponsor legislation. Order was returned.

    It’s fine to piss and assert power, but avoid going in for the kill unless you must. If a politician has to, it will go for blood and go in for the kill, during elections, for example—but do so in the manner that is the least likely to hurt you as well. To the extent possible, piss first, kill only if you have to. Of course, if your opponent isn’t another hyena, the kill might.

    So in our elections, do we see pissing, or is it a hunt with most f the gore hidden? “It’s the economy stupid” was winner in 1992, and liberal use of the “L” word was a winner in 1988. This was as harsh as it got. Whether it was pissing to show, in front of America who was boss and who owned the territory or it was a hunt to kill depends upon how you look at it. On one hand, Bush senior and Dukakis didn’t really have major come-backs—those sharp knives took them down. That said, the public didn’t see Bush in 88 or Clinton in 92 as “hunting” per se. The victors walked around, grinning, pointing out the facts (perfectly spun, as it were). Who could blame them for that? Arguably, these were pissing contests to shaming the smaller hyena. Not hunting. In 1976, Carter REEMED Ford for his incompetence…but even then, there was no hunting. Mighty cordial administration handover (with a lot of sharing of intellectual capital between administrations). And Carter said some damned nice things at Ford’s funeral about his friend…All this said—politically, in the national sphere, Ford was dead; Bush I was dead; and Dukakis was dead. The hunt may have happened, if it did, happened in such a way that America couldn’t blame the guy with the shit-eating grin—the new president. He hadn’t done anything wrong, bad, or violent. The ugliest parts of the hunt happened at night, and they were conducted in such a way that the hunter suffered as little damage as possible. All that America saw was pissing and one candidate cowering away in the light of the other’s superior spin.

    Hunt at night when no one can see you. Clinton—great politician at the end of the day. If he DID kill people (mind you I’m not saying he did)–he did his hunting at night. And no one can pin it on him, damn you. No night vision cameras on him. Just suspicions, as you see the blood on his smiling, hyena-like visage. But seriously—when Clinton took people out figuratively, he did so in a quiet way, that did not draw attention.

    In contrast—what not to do is hunting in the daytime, if you can help it. You DO NOT make phone calls to people and imply that John McCain has an illegitimate black daughter. That is clumsy, daytime hunting. And it makes you look bad. That is not how a hyena would run a campaign.

    You DO NOT not-so-quietly tell reporters who is or is not a covert agent for the U.S. government. At some point, that shit will leak, and again, you’ll look bad. This is an example of going for a kill unnecessarily, and in a way that it will get back to you. Bad politician. (And fricking weird and immature to boot, a trait of the bad management in this administration—immaturity and making decisions based on personal feelings/motivation—but that is off topic.)

    You DO NOT announce that others are either for or against you. This is making unnecessary enemies. Some of those enemies could be male lions, and everyone knows that a hyena can’t beat a male lion. You see, hyenas are too smart to do these things.

    Yes, I am starting to want a Hyena for president.

    Hyenas also know to watch their backs. They aren’t the only scavengers out there. Wildlife observers have discovered that frequently, when it has appeared that hyenas are stealing a kill, it is actually trying to get a kill back that was stolen from it! Animals that appear more noble (the lion, the tiger) will steal kills from a hyena: the hyena, if it can muster the required capabilities (generally 5-6 hyena friends), will come back and take the usurper on, getting back their kill then sharing the spoils with those that helped it. If the hyena can’t get enough other hyenas to come join him, but he’ll work a defensive strategy, not taking the lion on directly, but forming a defensive wall and working to tire the lion out, given the hyena’s excellent stamina. And if it really doesn’t have the resources to take the lion on, the hyena will walk away from its hard earned kill. It isn’t fair, but it is reality. As in the human world, folks are out there that will swoop in on work that one has done, and undermine or destroy it. One needs to be prepared to either muster what is required to take back what is one’s own, or to be able to do sound, rational analysis and skulk away as gracefully as possible. And interestingly, that is what a good leader or politician should do.

    After all this, I have to admit, I don’t know enough about Edwards to know if he is actually a hyena, or just some crappy scavenger—maybe a vulture…I just don’t know. We have established that he LOOKS like a hyena. I don’t know if he possesses the intelligence, the judgment, the strategy, the capability to BE a hyena. It’d be nice if someone in America did. Given his sheer resemblance to a hyena, and the fact that my ability to make a sound decision about who to vote for has been steadily eroded by television sound bites–I’m apt to vote for him.

    So, let’s just assume he IS a hyena. Now we have to ask…what KIND of hyena is he? Because everyone KNOWS that a good politician would be a SPOTTED hyena. Why you ask?

    –“One unusual feature of the spotted hyena is that females have an enlarged clitoris called a Pseudo-penis. Female hyenas give birth, copulate, and urinate through their protruding genitalia, which stretches to allow the male penis to enter for copulation, and it also stretches during birth. The anatomical position of the genitalia gives females total sexual control over who is allowed to mate with them. Researchers originally thought that one of the things that causes this characteristic of the genitals is androgens that are expressed to the fetus very early on in its development. However, it was discovered that when the androgens are held back from the fetus, the development of the female genitalia was not altered. Other hyena species lack this adaptation, making it a fairly recent one in the hyena line.”

    This sure as hell explains why most high-level female politicians are so…well, dominating and mannish, in drastic opposition to feminist theories of the matriarchal peace. The poor feminists were assuming that these lady politicians were just regular old hyenas. No, no, they were giant clitorissed, SPOTTED hyenas. Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton—all spotted hyenas.

    Now I’m not sure how this point relates to male politicians, but I can say that when male politicians are around these female spotted hyenas, they are like jello. I’ve frequently heard tales of how Maggie Thatcher used her feminine wiles and power to manipulate things her way. Moreover, it was Maggie saying, “Don’t go all wobbly on us, George,” that got George Bush the First to go to war…chew on that next time you think about enlarged clits.

    That said, a feminine intruder to territory is likely to be treated more harshly than a male by a pack of hyenas. Apparently the males are needed for their sperm or something…I’m out of my depth and can’t be asked to research why that is. But it is true, I think, that male politicians have easier time getting access to a new pack than females…but I digress.

    I’m steering clear about making any observations about Edwards and his relationship with his wife—is she a spotted hyena—you see, I’m being kind, and yes, it’s because his wife was diagnosed with cancer—I’m not so cold as to imply that she’s a hermphrodite and, on top of that, that he likes it. I have my lines in the sand that I will not cross—I have my honor…

    Near-hermaphrodidia aside, the spotted hyena is a better hunter and strategist than other hyenas, and that is what I WANT in a leader-politician. Their hunting is tailored to the type of prey they face.

    You see, spotted hyenas, will hunt in a pack if facing larger prey, and alone only when facing smaller prey. Unlike some poor politicians who make bad decisions that hurt our country, hyenas use STRATEGY when they hunt. That is what a good politician or leader should do if they are larger prey, they hunt in a pack, smaller, they hunt alone. They just accept that they aren’t always going to be able to hunt alone ALL the time. There are just too many other animals and groupings of animals out there. They don’t take an animal head on when it is at full strenth, they tire it out than rip its frickin guts out, and eat it whole. They have an plan for how to finish the job they started—they don’t leave a rotting carcass, they clean it the frick up…

    Hyena for president. Laughing all the way to effective leadership.

    Comment by Leotie — 2/17/2007 @ 8:46 pm

  2. Good Lord. It’s as if Marlon Perkins and Paul Begala produced an offspring.

    Comment by Rojas — 2/18/2007 @ 1:50 am

  3. Leotie, go look up “hyena butter”.

    I have no idea how that applies to Edwards, but it’s my favorite factoid to bring up whenever hyenas enter the conversation. Which isn’t often enough, I say.

    Comment by Paint CHiPs — 2/18/2007 @ 2:45 am

  4. Excellent point to look for, Paintchips. I did a quick search, and found SEVERAL photos of Sen Edwards marking his territory with signs, and also, appearing to be squatting to mark his territory with what can only be described as “Edwards Butter,” though it is clearly NOT/NOT a dairy product.

    See the link below:

    This bolsters my hopes that Sen Edwards is our spotted Hyena. God Willing.

    Ojalá que the search is over–love was right before my eyes…If my theory is correct, we will be able to vote for our leaders based on their resemblance to hyenas. AND, it is quite possible that we have already identified a candidate that may, very well BE a spotted hyena.

    Regrettably, I still have a doubt about whether good politicians are hyenas: after researching “hyena butter,” I’ve learned more about hyena greeting rituals.

    I regret to report that most politicians greet one another by shaking hands, which is not in the manner of the spotted hyena.

    I don’t think this takes away from my metaphor, however. First, you can’t expect politicians to be EXACTLY like hyenas–they live in human buildings with running water and, contrary to popular belief, they have opposable thumbs. So, things will be different. Perhaps, if hyenas had opposable thumbs, they would shake hands in greeting as well. In my view, that the fact that there is a greeting ritual involving a rigorous handshake IS akin to sniffing the privates of other hyenas…

    Comment by Leotie — 2/18/2007 @ 2:01 pm

  5. […] Back when the blog was young and the candidates still eyeing distant primaries, I produced suggestions and justifications for Republican candidate emblems and Rojas did the same for the Democrats. […]

    Pingback by The Crossed Pond » Memory lane: candidate emblems — 9/19/2008 @ 12:09 pm

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