Editorial Cartoonist

Mike Luckovich

MARCH 30, 2003 · Mike Luckovich, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was invited to visit the Pentagon last week. It was an opportunity he says he couldn't pass up. Luckovich got a behind-the-scenes look at the Pentagon during wartime and was there when President Bush made a rare appearance at the defense headquarters. This is Luckovich's War Diary.

[Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,] gave a Pentagon press briefing. They allowed me to go into a pre-briefing, it's called, where Torie Clarke, the assistant defense secretary for public affairs, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld discuss what they're going to talk about. She will suggest questions that he may be asked. Maybe it's a failing on the media's part because [the officials] really seem to be able to figure out what questions are going to be asked.

Cartoon of President Bush
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Then Bush showed up at the Pentagon, so that was kind of a big deal. And the advance team spent 45 minutes with little masking-tape names that were on the floor. They have each general's name written down and where he should stand on the floor and where Rumsfeld should stand. They just spent so long just moving those things around, trying to make for the best shot.

You know, they're all wearing earpieces and "We're moving the tape for the president, here, so just leave us alone."

But what was interesting, too, is [Deputy] Secretary Wolfowitz. Now, he's one of the architects of the Iraq war. He was in there and he mentioned to someone, "Hey, if Mike's not busy, can he come by my office and do a sketch?" So I went into his office and so I said, "How about you do a sketch of yourself?" He kept saying, "Oh man, I can't draw." Here, this guy is so powerful but he was really having a tough time, "Oh man, do I have to do this?"

So this is the sketch he did, it's not half bad, I don't think. I mean, I don't think he should give up his day job or anything, but it's not bad for someone that doesn't draw.

And so, here's the thing: There's something about a cartoonist. When a cartoonist goes someplace, it just creates and mood and people start having kind of a good time, even though circumstances may not be great. People relax a little bit and they start to enjoy themselves. And so, this whole day I'm aware there's a war going on. But as I'm walking down the hallway with Rumsfeld and sitting around with Wolfowitz, I'm thinking, "Gosh, this really is... it's just an amazing thing."

As I was leaving -- you have to be escorted out of the Pentagon -- and the sergeant that was escorting me out, he said to me, "You know, this is the most fun we've had with you here."

Luckovich's Pentagon drawings -- and Paul Wolfowitz's self-portrait -- at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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