On George Bush, for Guardian’s Comment Is Free website / by Rich Hobbs

In 2004 the re-election of George Bush filled almost every atom of my being

with dismay, despair, fear, loathing and disgust, at what this implied about the

future of America and the World. I say almost every atom, because deep down

in my reptile brain, the cartoonist in me knew that four years of Dubya could

never be enough.

This highlights several of the fundamental contradictions contained within

satirists. Obviously, if our satire worked and all those bastards we lampoon

just stopped, the world would be a perfect place, we’d have nothing left to

satirise and I’d be painting kittens in teacups, probably on velvet. But worse

than that, quite often cartoonists get caught in a kind of satirical Stockholm

Syndrome, where we come to love the things we seek to destroy. In other

words, Bush was just a joy to draw.

Infuriatingly, Steve Bell established the Bush-as-chimp shtik before any of the

rest of us, and it’s considered bad form to nick other cartoonist’s tricks. Even

so, George Bush still offered more than any caricaturist could dream possible:

there’s the eyebrows writhing round his crinkled forehead like demented

chinchillas, and beneath them eyes so close together they seem in constant

danger of fusing into cylopsism; then there’s the mouth, offering either a

dumb, Mad Magazine shit-eating grin or elongating into a truly simian pant

hoot as he tried to articulate human speech. Add to that his pointy ears and

flattened, beaky nose, and even if he’d been a Nobel Peace laureate of

impeccable liberal credentials, we’d still have loved drawing and stretching

every single feature.

As it is, taking the piss out of the way he looks (which he can’t, after all, do

much about) was more than justified by the way he behaved, demonising and

often seeking to criminalise all opposition in the name of "Freedom" while

pursuing the violent export of free-market democracy (just tell ‘em about it in

Florida) and wallowing in a heady mixture of incompetence, incomprehension

and mawkish militarism. And all of this heading up an administration which

showed every sign of being run by the Corleone family, but where they’d

picked Fredo as Godfather instead of Michael.

Cartooning is a kind of voodoo. Using caricature and all the other weapons in

our armoury, the point is to damage someone at a distance with a sharp object,

albeit in this case with a pen. I don’t know if the way Bush got drawn ever

effected him personally, but I know from my email inbox that it annoyed

thousands of his supporters in America. The flip side of that - and the real

point of satire - is that portraying him as a gurning stumblebum might just

possibly have given some comfort, through laughter, to everyone else.

Bush’s second term witnessed the total discrediting of everything he stood for

as it collapsed into abject failure, so it wasn’t just all about keeping me

chuckling over my drawing board. But either way, while honing up on

McCain and Obama, in preparation for the delivery of fresh meat, I’m still

going to miss him.