Thanks mostly to his invasion of Iraq in 2003, advocacy of torture, indefinite detention of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, flagrant flouting of FISA, and botched emergency response to hurricane Katrina, the presidency of George W. Bush has been a disaster for the United States and much of the world. To believe otherwise is to put oneself in that special category of believers in things like Faked Moon Landings and Intelligent Design. It is undoubtedly no coincidence that believers in the latter number amongst Bush’s most ardent supporters.
Bush’s presidency has not been bad for everyone, though. In addition to oil companies and defense contractors, cartoonists and comedians have benefited greatly from him. Those in the satire business have been fed a steady and highly nutritious diet of Bush’s stubbornness, lack of curiosity, cockiness, managerial incompetence, blatant corruption, and verbal ineptitude.
Misunderestimated & Overunderappreciated is a collection of political cartoons taking aim at the 43rd President of the United States of America. The cartoons compiled here are culled from those drawn by the Tribune Company’s syndicated cartoonists.
Organized chronologically and grouped by year, media critic Mark Crispin Miller provides an introductory essay for each section, setting the context for the cartoons that follow. Cozy contracts for Halliburton, the outing of CIA spy Valerie Plame, Katrina, the search for WMDs in Iraq, the Libby pardon; it’s all here going back to the very beginning with Bush’s “selection” by the Supreme Court as President.
Sprinkled next to the cartoons are quotes from The Decider himself; “I think we agree, the past is over.” “I don’t do nuance.” “A free Iraq will be a major defeat in the cause of freedom.” The kinds of quotes that have been cataloged in all those books of Bushisms.
In one cartoon from 2003, David Horsey has a small child struggling to carry an elephant-sized pig with the words “BUSH BUDGET DEFICITS” stamped on it. The child is saying, “B-b-but you said you weren’t going to pass on your problems to other generations!” Bush is standing in the corner, replying, “That’s before I figured out other generations can’t vote in 2004!”
A Doug Marlette cartoon from 2004 shows an oversized Bush head with even larger ears. David Kay (the man who headed the search for Saddam’s never found WMDs) is holding a flashlight aimed inside Bush’s right ear. A newspaper at Kay’s foot displays the headline “BUSH LAUNCHES INTELLIGENCE INVESTIGATION.”
The cartoons display the best that satire has to offer in explaining the political realm. My descriptions cannot do justice to their gifted creators. Pick up the book to see for yourself. It must be noted, however, that all of the cartoonists collected in Misunderestimated & Overunderappreciated are men. Unfortunately, this seems to reflect the dearth of women political cartoonists.
As funny as these cartoons are, reading them all together instead of in dribbles here and there, can render the reader’s mode more and more grim as the damage piles up. Best to dip in and out of this book instead of reading it in a handful of sittings. Taken together, these cartoons are an infuriating reminder of Bush’s numerous horrific mistakes, mistakes he never acknowledges. Because Bush clearly does not believe he has made any mistakes, being answerable only to His God, who is different god, it seems, from most others’.
Yes, read all the cartoons here and grumble, curse, and laugh. Then, registered Americans, go out and vote for a Democrat in 2008.
I’m sure the foibles of the next President of the United States will provide political cartoonists with plenty of sustenance. My hope is that they are not quite so numerous and nourishing as Bush’s have been.