Editorial Cartoonists Review Election '08 Editorial cartoonists Mike Luckovich and Mike Peters have mixed feelings about the looming presidential vote. As the pair looked back on their recent work, they acknowledged a worry: It's not easy to make fun of Barack Obama, the front-runner.
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Editorial Cartoonists Review Election '08

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Editorial Cartoonists Review Election '08

Editorial Cartoonists Review Election '08

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Before "Saturday Night Live," Jon Stewart, late night talk shows, before YouTube, if you were looking for political satire and caricatures of the candidates, you opened your newspaper. Among America's most read political cartoonist are our next two guests. Mike Luckovich is editorial cartoonist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Mike Peters draws for The Dayton Daily News. Good morning, gentlemen.

Mr. MIKE LUCKOVICH (Editorial Cartoonist, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution): Good morning.

Mr. MIKE PETERS (Editorial Cartoonist, The Dayton Daily News): Good morning. This is Mike Peters from The News.

Mr. LUCKOVICH: And I'm Mike Luckovich from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

MONTAGNE: There's one thing both Democrats and Republicans have been in complete agreement on throughout this campaign, one thing: change. And Mike Peters, starting with you, you've got one cartoon that I guess pretty much sums it up.

Mr. PETERS: I've got McCain saying, "I said change 10 times today." And then I have Obama saying, "I said change 20 times today." And then I had a poor guy who's got a cup in his hand, and he's unemployed, and he said, "I said change 300 times a day."

MONTAGNE: Yeah. And he's got a sign on him saying "Unemployed."

Mr. PETERS: Unfortunately, you know, we are in this bizarre campaign, and then you have a Wall Street crash at the same time. It's made it fabulous for us because we do well when things are horrible.

MONTAGNE: You approach this whole question of the financial crisis, Mike Luckovich, a little differently in one of your cartoons. A picture of a religious fanatic - you know, long hair, long beard - with the big sign.

Mr. LUCKOVICH: Yeah. It's a white-bearded guy holding a sign that says "The End is Near." And a gentleman is looking at him, and he's holding a newspaper that says "Wall Street Tanks Again." And he's looking at the old guy and the sign, and he's saying "Optimist."

MONTAGNE: Mike Peters, you actually use the financial crisis as a way of also commenting on the vice presidential pick of John McCain. The cartoon starts out about his suspending his campaign.

Mr. PETERS: So I've got him standing there, the first panel, and he says, "I was very involved in the bailout negotiations." And then you see him sitting at a dinner table, and he said, "I could see the Capitol dome from my seat at Denny's."

MONTAGNE: But of course, you would have to know the punch line would not be as funny if you weren't playing off Sarah Palin's comments about being able to see Russia from some parts of Alaska.

Mr. PETERS: You know, it's too bad for McCain. Every day there's something new. I mean, like the wardrobe, the $150,000 wardrobe. I did a cartoon where Sarah Palin is holding a shotgun, and she shot McCain in the face. And McCain is saying, "I told you she's vice presidential." And you know, taking off on the Cheney shooting from a while back.

MONTAGNE: The campaign, of course, is tough. But Mike Luckovich, you did show Obama with a particularly difficult cross to bear.

Mr. LUCKOVICH: Right. Right. I drew Reverend Wright spouting off. And I drew him as a cross that Obama has to bear. So Obama's walking with this Reverend Wright cross on his back. Yeah, if he becomes president, that's the scary part for a cartoonist because Obama is so comfortable in his own skin. Now, compare this guy who just kind of - he just glides. That's just his personality. If he becomes the president, that's the scary part for a cartoonist because he can actually string sentences together in a coherent way unlike the present occupant of the White House. And so we're all kind of dreading that. I mean, you know, this is cartoonists talking now. He's just going to be very difficult to mock.

Mr. PETERS: It's going to be the end of cartooning as we know it.

Mr. LUCKOVICH: But maybe Biden will take up the slack.

MONTAGNE: You, Mike Luckovich, you did a cartoon that in a way is quite sympathetic to John McCain. The tagline is "The passing of the torch."

Mr. LUCKOVICH: Right. Right. I drew W. handing the torch to McCain. But in the process, he's just completely torched McCain. So McCain is just - smoke coming off of McCain. He's lit up McCain. And George W. Bush is saying, "Ooh, my bad." So it's too bad for McCain that this Republican is kind of following his back.

MONTAGNE: Kind of his cross to bear.

Mr. LUCKOVICH: It is his cross to bear, you know. I'm telling you.

MONTAGNE: Mike Peters, this one cartoon that you did would be also directed at the current Wall Street - call it a bailout, you can call it a rescue. And you called it "Nationalization."

Mr. PETERS: Oh, yes. Yes. I was driving down the street, and I saw First National Bank. And I realized, God, it's not going to be First National Bank anymore. It's going to be First Nationalized Bank from now on. You know, all of these banks are getting nationalized. And I thought, Holy Moly, that's a cartoon!

MONTAGNE: The cartoon, of course, has a guy standing on a ladder. You know, he's adding the letters I-Z-E-D after First National. You say you were driving down the street, and it just popped in your head. Is that how a lot of these cartoons come to you guys?

Mr. PETERS: Yeah. When we do our normal stuff, when we go around, when we drive, when we are listening to music, or whatever, certain ideas will come in. Maybe two ideas will come in from two separate places.

Mr. LUCKOVICH: You know, I tend to come up with my ideas when I'm just sitting and really thinking. I mean, I might a get a germ of an idea when I'm driving around. But like recently, remember when Jesse Jackson made that comment that was caught on the open mike where he said he wanted to rip off Barack Obama's you know whats? So I drew Jesse Jackson walking past a tree. And on the tree are a couple of squirrels. And one of the squirrels is panicked, and he's saying to the other squirrel, "Hide your nuts." And so that was sort of a way that I could do that cartoon. And Cynthia Tucker, my editor, has very - you know, she's concerned about taste. She saw that. She said, oh, perfect.

Mr. PETERS: Really, we're seven-year-old kids. And if we can get something across that's a little bit dirty, and our editor says OK, I mean, that's a threefer. How cool is that?

Mr. LUCKOVICH: I know. But I prefer to think of myself as a nine-year-old. I'm a little bit more mature than you are.

MONTAGNE: Well, you two boys have lots to look forward to. Thank you both very much. Mike Luckovich draws for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Mike Peters just celebrated his 40th year with The Dayton Daily News. Amazing!

Mr. LUCKOVICH: Well done, Michael.

MONTAGNE: For a child.

Mr. PETERS: For a seven-year-old! Yeah!

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: OK, besides the cartoons we've just been talking about, there are plenty more at our Web site. Steve, do what you've just done. Go to npr.org.

INSKEEP: Yeah, I'm looking at these here, like this one here that has Barack and Michelle Obama. And Barack Obama says, "Your turn to babysit the children." And I guess you just have to look to see who the children are.

MONTAGNE: Actually are. Well, this is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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