Trying to really get inside the minds of comedians and satirists is difficult, if not impossible. Sort of like cracking a tough-shelled egg without breaking the yolk. Interviewing one rarely amounts to anything more than a “why-are-you-so-funny?” bull session. Of course, P.J. O’Rourke is a notable exception …
Still, I found myself strangely drawn to this Gary Trudeau interview, conducted via email by Slate’s David Plotz, mainly because of the sub-headline that mentioned “the difficulty of satirizing Obama.” Here’s what the author of Doonesbury, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, said about the subject:
Believe it or not, Obama’s very tough for business. The contradictory characterizations of him as fascist or socialist only serve to confirm the truth – he’s a raging moderate. And satirists don’t do well with moderates, especially thoughtful ones. In addition, Obama rarely makes gaffes and has no salient physical or temperamental features. And sinking popularity isn’t a critique. Even SNL’s main rap on him is his unflappability, hardly a vice in a world leader.
Hmmm … First of all, you could make a pretty good case that Obama isn’t terribly moderate — at least not in a center-right nation like the U.S. I suspect that’s why his party will take such a drubbing in the midterm congressional elections.
He “rarely makes gaffes?” Perhaps that’s because they’re seldom reported in the news media Trudeau consumes. Indeed, Obama’s list of gaffes is long and substantial — not quite on a level with his vice president, but formidable nonetheless.
No “salient physical” features? Are you kidding me? Cartoonist Pat Oliphant has said the same thing, complaining that “Obama’s physical features don’t naturally lend themselves to caricature.” Think about it, guys. The big ears, the white teeth, the cigarettes, the omnipresent TOTUS. Heck, George Bush was mercilessly caricatured to look like Curious George, a baboon, Alfred E. Newman or worse.
As I’ve already stated, I can’t pretend to get inside of Trudeau’s head. But I suspect his reluctance to caricature Obama stems from a genuine affection for the man and his policies, coupled with a fear of being labeled a racist for exaggerating Obama’s physical features.
Come on, Gary. Throw political correctness to the wind, After an initial reluctance, even Jon Stewart has dared to make fun of the man he once supported. You once went In Search of Reagan’s Brain. Can’t you go looking for Obama’s ‘prompter?