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Worldwide Cartoonists Take Pleasure In America’s Pain

Worldwide Cartoonists Take Pleasure in America’s Pain

The easiest way to see what world opinion looks like is to look through the mirror of political cartoons. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina has done nothing to elicit sympathy from the world according to cartoonists around the globe who are finding pleasure in America’s pain.

In Europe, anger at President Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto treaty to stop global warming is the focus of “I told you so” cartoons. The Europeans see global warming as the obvious cause of Hurricane Katrina and seize the opportunity to blame the president for causing the calamity.

German cartoonist Heiko Sakurai depicts President Bush swept up in a tornado along with a sign that reads, “Welcome to New Orleans.” The president says, “Global warming? What a ridiculous idea! But we got very serious information from our intelligence services that there might be a connection to Al Qaeda …”

Swiss cartoonist Patrick Chappatte of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune (owned by the New York Times) draws a scene of flooded New Orleans ruins, with a billboard that quotes the president, “’Climate change remains to be proven’ –George W. Bush.”

Cartoonist Olle Johansson from Sweden shows the president taking his “global warming dog” for a walk; the dog has escaped from his collar and turned into a raging storm outside the frame, as the president says, “The hurricanes just love to play with him.”

New Zealand Herald cartoonist Rod Emmerson shows President Bush addressing the nation, “The American people can rest assured that we plan to invade New Orleans as soon as possible.”

Bill Leak of The Australian newspaper in Sydney shows President Bush dressed as a cowboy, holding out a tin cup begging for help as Australian President John Howard looks the other way, telling an aide to tell Bush that he gave “at the office.”

Cartoonists in developing countries, the Middle East and Latin America display their disgust for America and President Bush at every opportunity. Americans are portrayed as greedy, obese, stupid and arrogant. Hamburgers are a worldwide symbol for America and we often see ugly depictions of hamburgers; it seems strange to us, but defiled burgers are instantly recognizable around the world as insults directed against America. In Middle Eastern countries where there is no Christian lore that would give rise to a devil character, Dracula is substituted for Satan, and President Bush or Uncle Sam are often depicted as vampires.

Another common symbol for America is the comic book superhero, sometimes Batman or Spiderman, but usually Superman is the worldwide substitute for Uncle Sam, and in most cartoons Superman suffers an indignity that brings joy to an America hating audience. In his most recent cartoon, Emad Hajjaj of the Al-Ghad newspaper in Amman, Jordan draws President Bush in his Superman suit, with Hurricane Katrina as his up-blown skirt, exposing his skinny, naked, black legs trudging through the mud, labeled, “Third World.”

Many of the world’s cartoonists work in countries that allow no press freedom, but the cartoonists describe themselves as being “free.” A Cuban cartoonist once told me, “I’m free to draw whatever I want … as long as it is about the United States.”

Bashing America is a daily job for the world’s cartoonists, and it will take a lot more than death, devastation and widespread human suffering to jar them from their routine.

Daryl Cagle is the political cartoonist for MSNBC.com. He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to over eight hundred newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His book, “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2005 Edition,” is available in bookstores now.

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Civil War On The Table

Civil War on the Table

As a political cartoonist I sit around all day watching cable news pundits argue with each other. That’s what all of the political cartoonists do. Our cartoons are nothing more than more screaming voices on the editorial page and our cartoons typically amplify the standard opinions we hear on TV, where pundits offer ready-made opinions on every issue. All I have to do is pick from the tasty opinion smorgasbord that is served up to me, 24 hours a day. The problem is that lately, I’m feeling a bit overstuffed, and the opinions I’m being served aren’t tasting very good.

The ready-made opinions on Iraq come in three flavors:

1. Stay the course and fight the good fight for democracy and freedom (this is what the President and the far-right pundits tell me).

2. Iraq is a big mess, but it would be worse if we left because there would be civil war (this is what most of the pundits tell me).

3. We should get out now (this is what Cindy Sheehan and the far-left pundits tell me).

All of these choices leave a bad taste in my mouth. As a cartoonist, I want a bad guy to bash. The only good cartoons are the ones that bash a bad guy. Most of the cartoonists have chosen to bash President Bush as the bad guy for getting us into Iraq and keeping us there. In my own cartoons I’ve chosen to bash the insurgents in Iraq; they seem like the obvious bad guys to me. The Sunnis hate America. The Sunni insurgents don’t have much success blowing up American soldiers, so they spend most of their time blowing up Shiites; they oppress women, they boycott the elections, they refuse to negotiate on a new constitution. They seem like good, all around, bad guys.

The Shiites are bad guys too. They also hate America, they want an oppressive religious theocracy to rule Iraq, they oppress women, they are aligned with Axis of Evil member, Iran; but at least they negotiate, they vote, they don’t blow things up as much as the Sunnis, and they are the majority in Iraq. I’ll call them: “less-bad guys.” (We like the Kurds, so we’ll ignore them.)

The TV pundits tell me that we must stay in Iraq because if we leave there will be a terrible civil war. All of the options seem dark and gloomy. I wonder why none of the pundits ever discuss the bright side of civil war. I see four arguments for civil war in Iraq:

1. There are a lot more Shiites than Sunnis, so the “less-bad guys” would win.

2. With the Shiites fighting the Sunnis, we (and the Kurds) can sit back and watch until it’s over

3. We’ve learned that the American army is the world’s best at destroying things, but we do a lousy job of building things and keeping peace. We should quit trying to do the things we do poorly.

4. There will be a lot of death, destruction and suffering in a civil war, but many pundits argue that our initial war was so clean and efficient in targeting only the military and sparing the civilian population in Iraq, that the Iraqi people never suffered enough to be willing to make the compromises necessary for peace and democracy. Until they suffer enough to cry, “Uncle Sam,” there is no reason to expect the Sunnis to be civil; they lost their man Saddam and lost their control over Iraq. Of course they would be in a surly mood.

Iraq seems to be having a civil war now anyway, but we’re keeping the heat down by constantly stirring the Iraqi pot. It is a natural American tendency to think that if we stir the pot, the stew will be better; but we could turn up the heat, sit back and let the stew simmer until done. That seems to me to be a recipe that would taste as good as any of the others that are being offered to me, and I’d like to have it served up along with the other dishes on my TV pundit smorgasbord.

Daryl Cagle is the political cartoonist for MSNBC.com. He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to over eight hundred newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His book, “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2005 Edition,” is available in bookstores now.

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How to Draw President Bush

How to Draw President George W. Bush

Political cartoonists are not much different from comic strip cartoonists; both draw an ongoing daily soap opera featuring a regular cast of characters. While comic strip cartoonists invent their own characters, the political cartoonist’s characters are given to him by events in the world; we are all drawing our own little daily sagas starring the same main character, President Bush.

Around the world, cartoonists almost always draw President Bush as a cowboy. Outside America, a Texas cowboy is seen as: uneducated, ill mannered, a “trigger-happy marshal” or outlaw who is prone to violence. Cowboy depictions of the president by worldwide cartoonists are meant to be insults, but Americans see cowboys differently. In the USA, cowboys are noble, independent souls, living a romantic lifestyle by taming the wilderness and taking matters into their own hands whenever they see a wrong that needs to be righted. We are a nation of wanna-be cowboys.

The image of President Bush evolves with each cartoonist’s personal perspective. Bush started out as most political cartoon characters start out, as a caricature of a real person, meant to be recognizable from a photograph. As time goes by, the cartoonists stop looking at photographs and start doing drawings of drawings, then drawings of drawings of drawings, so that the George W. Bush drawings morph into strangely deformed characters that look nothing like the real man, but are instantly recognizable because we’ve come to know the drawings as a symbol of the man. It is surprising that each cartoonist’s drawings of the president look entirely different, but each is easily recognizable as representing the same character.

For some cartoonists, the president’s ears have grown huge; a strange phenomenon, since the president doesn’t have unusually large ears, and isn’t well known for listening. Some cartoonists have seen President Bush shrink in height; a combination of these has the president sometimes looking like a little bunny rabbit.

The president who shrank most in cartoons was Jimmy Carter. At the end of Carter’s term he was a Munchkin, standing below knee height on almost every cartoonist’s drawing table. President Bush has shrunk for only some of the more liberal cartoonists. President Reagan grew taller during his cartoon term in office. President Clinton grew fatter, even as he lost weight in real life. Bill Clinton’s personality was fat, and the cartoonists drew the personality rather than the man. President Clinton is now skinny, but he will always be fat in cartoons.

Another cartoon characteristic that has grown from years of drawing President Bush are his eyes, two little dots, close together, topped by raised, quizzical eyebrows. The close, dotted eyes are an interesting universal phenomenon, shared by almost every cartoonist, that doesn’t relate to the president’s actual features. Over time, most cartoonists will draw a character with eyes that grow larger, but President Bush’s eyes shrink, while his ears grow. There may be a political message in that, but I can’t figure it out.

I once played “Political Cartoonist Name That Tune.” The game went like this:

“I can draw President Bush in SIX LINES.”

“Well, I can draw President Bush in FOUR LINES!”

“I can draw President Bush in THREE LINES!”

“OK. Draw that President!”

…and I did, two little dots topped by a raised, quizzical eyebrow line. It looked just like him.

Daryl Cagle is the political cartoonist for MSNBC.com. He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to over eight hundred newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His book, “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2005 Edition,” is available in bookstores now.

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Liberal vs Conservative Humor

Liberal vs. Conservative Humor

Liberals see conservatives as preachy, sanctimonious and humorless. Conservatives see nothing funny about shrill, angry, liberal losers. Who is funny? It depends on your point of view, but humor writers and cartoonists will always be liberal-leaning; it is a bias that is built into the system. It boils down to core values.

Conservatives believe that people should be trusted; they believe that we should all take responsibility for ourselves, that we should enjoy the rewards of our personal successes and suffer the consequences of our personal failures. Liberals believe that people are basically stupid, that we should be protected from hurting ourselves by making the poor decisions that we would certainly make, if we were free to exercise our stupidity. As a cartoonist, I know that I can’t make a living drawing cartoons about people who take responsibility for themselves, but I can make a career out of drawing stupid people.

The responsible vs. stupid perspective is clear for all to see in the Social Security debate. President Bush wants personal retirement accounts where we can make decisions for ourselves about where our money goes. Liberals don’t want us to have the freedom to make the poor investment decisions that could erode our retirement “savings.” There is no middle ground between responsible and stupid. The same is true with humor.

Jay Leno is a liberal humorist. Jay walks down the street and gives everyday folks the opportunity to demonstrate how stupid they are, while Jay laughs at them. David Letterman is a conservative humorist. Dave treats everyday folks with respect, giving them the opportunity to laugh at how silly Dave is, as he has fruit dropped from a rooftop, or when he visits his stoic neighbor, Rupert Jee, at “Hello Deli,” with another goofy contest. Both Leno and Letterman are funny. Liberals and conservatives can both be funny, but it is easier to be funny by laughing at others, rather than laughing with others. Most humorists take the easy road.

In politics it is easy to poke fun at the people in power. Political cartooning is a negative art form. Cartoonists tear things down. There is nothing funny about a cartoon that defends the people in power. With the White House and Congress controlled by conservatives it is no surprise that conservatives are humorless.

Demographics also favor liberal laughs as the blue-state media centers in California and New York broadcast their perspectives into the humorless red states.

Editors often complain that liberal newspaper political cartoonists outnumber conservatives by a ratio of about 10-to-1. Since cartoonists are evenly distributed at newspapers across the country, why would this be true? Most editorial cartoonists rely on a full time newspaper job because it is tough to make a living only through syndication or freelancing. There are fewer and fewer newspaper jobs for cartoonists as papers cut back on their editorial staffs and cartoonists are seen as expendable. The few jobs (about 85) that remain are at the biggest newspapers, which are usually in the biggest cities which tend to be more liberal areas. There are about 1,500 daily newspapers in America, and the vast majority are small, suburban or rural papers that are conservative, and are either too small or too cheap to hire their own local cartoonist. Unless those conservative newspapers get off the dime and decide to hire local cartoonists, we’re always going to see a majority of urban, liberal cartoonists.

Conservatives should learn to laugh at themselves, like David Letterman; instead they choose to complain about liberal control of the media. Rather than complaining, what conservatives need are better jokes, a more liberal attitude about their checkbooks and most of all, a liberal in the White House.

Daryl Cagle is the political cartoonist for Slate.com, the opinion site of The Washington Post. He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to over eight hundred newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His book, “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2005 Edition,” is available in bookstores now.

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Cartoonists Bash the New Pope

by Daryl Cagle

The selection of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope has been treated politely by the American press, but cartoonists around the world have been bashing the pontiff in ways that most readers would find shocking.

Mixing the words “rat” and “Nazi,” the British tabloid “The Sun” dubbed the new pope “Papa Ratzi” in a banner headline. American newspapers are more polite to the conservative pontiff, criticizing him in editorials but avoiding Nazi metaphors. Growing up in Germany in the 1930’s, Ratzinger was compelled to join the Hitler Youth and

the German Wehrmacht. As a defender of conservative church doctrine, he was labeled as Pope John Paul II’s “rottweiler.” Cartoonists have seized on these images, portraying the pope as a snarling dog, and putting him in the role of the Fuhrer, reviewing troops of

goose-stepping sheep or Cardinals.

Readers usually see only one editorial cartoon in their daily newspaper and have to wander onto the internet to see what the political cartoonists are doing. Editors typically subscribe to many syndicated editorial cartoonists so that they have a large selection

from which to pick a favorite cartoon of the day. In recent years, the trend among editors is to choose more cartoons that are cute little jokes and do not express a strong point of view. Editors want to avoid controversy; strong cartoons draw a strong reaction from readers. Cartoonists call the trend to opinionless cartoons “Newsweekization,” as Newsweek Magazine is notorious for showcasing funny, pointless, inoffensive cartoons. Cartoonists still draw the strong cartoons, but readers see only the bland jokes that editors select. Cartoons that bash a pope will rarely be seen in the US, simply because too many readers would take offense.

The recent cartoons criticizing the new pontiff come from cartoonists who don’t like his conservative views. Australian cartoonist Paul Zanetti depicts the pope saying, “Forward to the future” as he leads his sheep down a hole labeled “the past.” Canadian cartoonist

Michael DeAdder portrays the pope’s vestments decorated with symbols that say “no condoms”, “no reform” and “no women.” Cartoonist David Horsey of the Seattle Post Intelligencer draws the pontiff invading a woman’s bathroom, scowling as she holds a birth control pill. Cartoonist Nate Beeler of the Washington Examiner draws the new pope with an accordion singing, “Are you ready to party like it’s 1299?”

I drew a breathless television reporter, with her finger on her ear-piece, delivering the breaking news from Rome: “…WAIT … I’m now being told that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the new pope, is NOT … repeat NOT called a ‘German Shepherd,’ he’s a ‘Rottweiler’. He WAS in the Hitler Youth, but he did NOT, repeat NOT, play Cliff the mailman on ‘Cheers.’”

Foreign cartoons are always more harsh than those from America. Brazilian cartoonist Lailson de Hollanda shows an evil-looking pope at the window, with a crowd chanting “Heil Pope! Heil Pope!” Slovakian cartoonist Martin Sutovek shows the pontiff wearing

blinders, like a race horse. Brazilian cartoonist Simanca draws the pope as a shark, about to chew up little fish labeled “homosexuals.”

Cartoonists are bomb-throwers. If this column runs with no cartoons, I’m sure there is nothing to worry about. If this column runs with sample cartoons, I know that somewhere, an editor is hiding under his desk.

Daryl Cagle is the political cartoonist for Slate.com, the opinion site of The Washington Post. He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to over eight hundred newspapers, including the paper you are reading. His book, “The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2005 Edition,” is available in bookstores now.

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What Terri Schiavo Wanted

We’re told that poor Terri Schiavo could have avoided this great legal drama if only she had a “living will.” We’re also told that Schiavo became a mental vegetable when the blood supply to her brain was interrupted, because her heart stopped, as a result of her bulimia, the binge-and-purge eating disorder.

A living will tells physicians what a patient wants to have done in the event that she is terminally ill. Terri’s sleazy husband, Michael Schiavo, tells us that Terri wouldn’t want to live on like this, but, like most conservatives, I don’t believe sleazy husbands. After all, Terri was a bulimic, and bulimics are nut-cases. If Terri had a living will, this is how it would read:

“The Terri Schiavo Bulimic Living Will”

Let it be known that I, Terri Schiavo, being of sound mind and body, do hereby direct my physicians to place a feeding tube into my stomach.

Feed me, then take out the tube.

Starve me, then, put the tube back.

Feed me again. More this time. Now take the tube out again.

Starve me again. Put the tube back again.

Repeat until dead.

Signed,

Terri Schiavo

It is a credit to the legal system that Terri can get just what she wants even without a living will.

Liberals think this case is all about the rule of law. Conservatives think the case is all about morality. Political cartoonists know the case is all about feeding tubes. Feeding tubes are funny. There have been lots of cartoons showing a tug of war, with liberals and conservatives tugging on a feeding tube. I drew Uncle Sam whipping himself with Terri’s feeding tube and the title, “Self Flagellation.”

Canadian cartoonist, “Tab,” draws a guy listening as the TV blares, “… surrounded by family and supporters while feebly clutching a feeding tube …” The guy watching TV responds, “I’m getting’ a little tired of Michael Jackson’s antics …”

Conservative Georgia cartoonist, Mike Lester, draws sleazy husband, Michael Schiavo, yanking out the feeding tube, exclaiming, “I would KILL to protect Terri’s right to die!”

Denver Post cartoonist, Mike Keefe, shows Saint Peter on the phone saying, “On the Terri Schiavo Matter, Sir, a Mr. Tom DeLay and company have appointed themselves to represent You …” God responds with thunder and lightening.

Florida cartoonist, Jeff Parker, draws a white, frozen judge with the caption, “Once given the power to play God by the Florida legislature, Jeb Bush intervenes in the Terri Schiavo case and then goes on to turn the courts into a pillar of salt.”

My favorite cartoon came from Mike Lane, who recently left a thirty-year job at the Baltimore Sun. Mike e-mailed me, asking if it would be OK to draw an elephant peeing. In his thirty years at the Sun, he was never allowed to draw an elephant peeing. Would we really dare to send a drawing of an elephant peeing to newspapers around the country? Would newspapers really print that?

I said, “Sure, what the heck?” Mike’s cartoon shows a Republican elephant peeing on the “Rule of Law.” I think it is the best cartoon of all.

Daryl Cagle is the political cartoonist for Slate.com, the opinion site of The Washington Post. He is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to over eight hundred newspapers, including the paper you are reading

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A Cartoonist Spins In His Grave

A Cartoonist Spins in his

Grave

By

Daryl Cagle

There is no institution that cartoonists despise more than The New York Times.

The editorial cartooning profession is slowly dying as more and more newspapers

decide that they can do without the expense and controversy of a local political

cartoonist. The New York Times is the biggest newspaper to go without a

staff editorial cartoonist. They don’t even run comic strips.

The Times has not employed a political cartoonist for nearly fifty years and

editors at the Times have been quoted saying that they would never hire a

cartoonist because “you can’t edit a cartoonist like you can a writer,” and, “we

would never give so much power to one man.” The arrogance with which the haughty

Times dismisses our art form really sticks in the collective cartoonists’ craw.

So, imagine my surprise when I read that The New York Times was winning

the “Herbert Block Freedom Award,” a prize bearing the name of a great

political cartoonist.

Herbert Block, better known as “Herblock,” is a beloved figure among

cartoonists; he worked as the cartoonist for The Washington Post for most

of the past century, winning three Pulitzer Prizes and contributing to

the downfall of President Nixon and Senator Joe McCarthy.

During his lifetime, Herblock quietly amassed a fortune in Washington Post

stock. When he died, Herblock left money to his favorite organizations, among

them the National Cartoonists Society, which is using a $50,000 Herblock

bequest to fund a scholarship in his name. Herblock’s estate established the

Herblock Foundation which, among other things, supports the art of editorial

cartooning and bestows a yearly Herblock Award to a top cartoonist. Herblock

left money to the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, which

recently received a $150,000 grant from the Herblock Foundation to fund

efforts to facilitate use of editorial cartoons in the classroom and promote our

art form on the web.

Herblock also left $50,000 to his union, The Newspaper Guild/Communications

Workers of America, which used the legacy to start an award called the “Herbert

Block Freedom Award,” that they decided to bestow upon the evil nemesis of

cartoonists, The New York Times. The award comes with a $5,000 prize, a

drop that will be thrown into the Times’ vast, private, corporate money bucket.

Cartoonists love irony, but some irony is too much to stomach.

The Newspaper Guild never thought about how giving the Times an award,

named after a beloved editorial cartoonist, would look to Herblock’s cartoonist

colleagues.  Guild President Linda Foley writes, “We did not consider the Times’

history or relationship (or lack thereof) with editorial cartooning. It’s not a

controversy or history with which we are familiar.”

The award will be presented to the Times at a banquet on March 30th to honor the

Times’ efforts in defending the confidentiality of their sources. In particular

the award is intended to honor the Times’ star reporter, Judith Miller, who is

fighting court efforts to root out a confidential source who disclosed the

identity of CIA agent, Valerie Plame.   Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joe

Wilson, accuses the White House of exposing his secret agent wife in retaliation

for Wilson’s outspoken criticism of the Bush administration.

Miller is probably best known for a series of articles in the Times that

encouraged the run up to war with Iraq in which she gave credibility to false

claims that Iraq was amassing huge, menacing, stocks of weapons of mass

destruction.

Now Miller is fighting to stay out of jail and defending a slimy source who

outed a CIA agent. When we think of confidential sources, we think of frightened

whistle-blowers, putting themselves at risk to point out wrongdoing.  This case

is different.  There is no whistle-blower here; it is the leak itself that is

the crime.  The source is the bad guy and Miller is a witness to the crime.

The Newspaper Guild thinks that protecting sources is noble, even in this

case. So The New York Times gets an award … but why call it the

Herblock Freedom Award?

Guild President Foley writes, “In addition to being an ardent cartoonist, Herb

Block also was an ardent trade unionist. That’s why Herb left us the $50,000 …

Trade unions, like cartoonists, are also on the verge of extinction. Newspaper

companies like Cox, Tribune, Gannett, etc., do their darndest to eliminate the

Guild. Do you folks ever give consideration to that legacy of Herb Block when

you give your awards for cartooning? I doubt it; nor would I expect it (even

though I might wish it). And we would never, ever presume that you or any other

group (such as The Herblock Foundation) was somehow “dishonoring” Herb

Block because it gave an award to a cartoonist or publication that was

anti-union. Again, we wouldn’t like it, but it wouldn’t be our award to bestow.”

OK. They can do what they want

to do in Herblock’s name. But the irony of this award creates a great

opportunity to make the point about how terrible The New York Times has

been for cartoonists.  Readers can complain to the Times by e-mailing [email protected] 

Tell them the cartoonists sent you.

Daryl Cagle is the political cartoonist for Slate.com, the opinion site

of The Washington Post.  He is a past president of the National

Cartoonists Society and his cartoons are syndicated to over eight hundred

newspapers, including the paper you are reading.