|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/06/24 10:32 北京青年报|
Cartoonist Pat Oliphant is no friend of George W. Bush, but before we construe this as a mark of Democratic sympathies, let's take a look at how he treated earlier presidents. Today's cartoon makes that easy: in it, Oliphant reviews the presidents since 1969 and seems to imply that they all, Republicans and Democrats alike, share the blame for the current occupant of the Oval Office.
First in the line-up is Republican Richard Nixon (1969-74), a goblin with a five o'clock shadow①and a frown of perpetual suspicion. His resignation in the wake of the Watergate scandal led to the presidency of Gerald Ford, who had already been chosen to replace a disgraced VICE president. Ford, a former congressman from Michigan, had been a power in the House of Representatives, but his political base as president never grew enough for him to win reelection. Ford's widely decried pardon of Nixon, for which many voters have still not forgiven him, ushered a Democrat into the White House: Georgia governor Jimmy Carter. Oliphant came to loathe Carter, whom he regarded as not up to the presidency: hence the dwarfish caricature.
The reaction to the weak Carter opened the White House to onetime Hollywood B-film actor and later California governor Ronald Reagan, the darling of the Republican right. "Ron" gave America "George I", i.e. George HW Bush, whom Oliphant lampooned almost as fiercely as he had Nixon. The reaction to Bush's management of the economy was the elevation of Arkansas governor William Clinton, whose dalliance with Monica Lewinski in turn helped to elect George W. Bush. The economy flourished mightily during the Clinton years, and this should have been enough to secure election for Bill's vice president, Al Gore. Oliphant blames Clinton's sexual follies and mendacity for George II, whom he regularly portrays as a little boy in a cowboy hat.
To judge by the mildness of the caricature, Oliphant seems to think most highly of Ronald Reagan among recent presidents. This cannot be because he loves Republican right-wingers, however -- otherwise he would portray George W. Bush more flatteringly. One senses that what he admires above all in presidents is the competent use of power.
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