TOPICS > Politics

Political Cartoonists’ Interpretation of the Presidential Campaign

September 30, 2004 at 12:00 AM EDT


STEPHEN HESS: For as long as America has had presidential elections, our editorial cartoonists have judged the worthiness of the candidates: Sometimes with humor; sometimes with acid. This year’s contest, according to the cartoonists begins in ballots. Well, not exactly. In July the Democrats needed Boston for what would be a carefully scripted performance.

SEN. JOHN KERRY: I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty.

SPOKESMAN: A theme is beginning to emerge, Dan.

SPOKESMAN: Excuse me, sir, could you move? You’re covering up your senate record.

SPOKESMAN: Beat it, punk, I’m a war hero.

STEPHEN HESS: John Edwards joins the ticket to add a dash of southern charm.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): It is with exultant jubilation and felicitous exuberance that I intone —

SPOKESMAN: He’s as please as a possum in a pea patch.

STEPHEN HESS: Kerry’s war record is challenged by a group that calls itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. They claim to be independent of the Bush campaign. Cartoonists have their doubts.

SPOKESMAN (carton): A pack of lies now.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): I honor Sen. Kerry’s service. I’d never question his war record. I am not behind this.

SPOKESMAN: (cartoon): That does it, I’ve half a mind to fire back.

STEPHEN HESS: Before their convention the Republicans Choice of New York City zeros in on their campaign strategy.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): An elephant never lets you forget.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: This election will also determine how America responds to the continuing danger of terrorism.

STEPHEN HESS: The Republicans’ message comes through loud and clear.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): Al-Qaida is coming, al-Qaida is coming!

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): It’s the spellbinding suspense of it all. What if the confetti is wet? What if the delegates doze off? What if the balloon guy drops them too soon?

STEPHEN HESS: The Republican campaign sets up Vice President Cheney as the hammer and the bad cop…

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: The danger is that we’ll get hit again.

STEPHEN HESS: Their strategy also serves the cartoonist.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): And then the terrorists blew up an atomic bomb that killed everybody in America because the people had voted for Kerry.

STEPHEN HESS: But where is Sen. Edwards? Edwards the good cop doesn’t deflect the media’s attention. Cartoonists focus instead on Sen. Kerry’s indecision.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): Flip flop flip flop flip flop.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or take up arms against a sea of troubles.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): Oh, for crying out loud, can’t you just make a decision Kerry?

STEPHEN HESS: The Democrats finally take aim at George Bush’s military record.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): For the record, Alabama was no picnic either.

STEPHEN HESS: The story takes a strange twist as memos on “60 Minutes” turn out to be forgeries.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): If the National Guard controversy cools the focus will be on your utter disaster in Iraq.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): Hello, Dan Rather? I got a new memo for you.

STEPHEN HESS: It’s the rare cartoon that aims at the nation’s other domestic problems.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): The environment might clean itself.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): It might.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): Working people may raise their own pay.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): Why wouldn’t they?

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): What if everyone was healthy?

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): Nobody would need insurance. So call us optimistical.

STEPHEN HESS: While several cartoonists take a strong stand against the war in Iraq, others frame the war as a matter of leadership.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): I don’t care where he leads us, I just want to be led.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): Do I have to debate all of him? Is that fair? Can we find a hall big enough?

STEPHEN HESS: Each week America’s cartoonists give us more than 400 opinions on national and world issues. As the campaign enters the home stretch, the cartoonists have disposed of the National Guard and swift boat scandals, now the debates can begin.

SPOKESMAN (cartoon): After campaigning in the same towns in the same swing states, the candidates converge on the same small diner. He’s mine!