Not a single vote has been cast, but the verdict is in from one demographic watching the presidential election closely: America’s political cartoonists are rooting for Newt Gingrich to become president.
“Since Nixon, [Gingrich is] God’s greatest gift to cartoonists, caricaturists and artists. He is what we look for. What we want is a person who looks exactly like” him, explains Steve Brodner, whose work has appeared in many publications, including Esquire and New York magazine.
Chris Weyant, The Hill’s cartoonist, said “You know you’re going to get the same answer from everybody — it’s Newt Gingrich.”
Weyant was right. Every illustrator ITK spoke with is pulling for a President Gingrich. Adds Weyant, “It’s the gift that keeps on giving. He’s Hanukkah and Christmas rolled into one.”
The cartoonists say President Obama gives them a lot less to work with, suggesting they’re ready, from a business standpoint, to move on to a Gingrich administration.
And when it comes to describing what makes the former Speaker so fun to draw, these artists don’t hold back.
Brodner likens Gingrich to “an unmade bed. He looks very much like a person who’s intellectually unkempt and morally unkempt as well. A man of uncontrollable appetites, overweight, messy hair, a head that’s way too big for his body.”
As we learned, don’t get Brodner started.
“His head is just immense. He looks like a walking Macy’s float. Or the marshmallow man from ‘Ghostbusters.’ He does the work for you. You just draw a perfect circle, two black dots about halfway down, a tiny nose and a mouth that goes from one side of the circle to the other. And you’ve done it.”
Victor Juhasz, whose drawings have graced the pages of The New York Times and Rolling Stone, calls Gingrich “the biggest sandbag with features. Topped by white hair … he’s very fleshy and putty-like. So depending on what he’s doing, smiling or frowning, he’s got a lot of movement.”
Freelance cartoonist Milt Priggee and many of his colleagues said favoring Gingrich has nothing to do with personal political views; the GOP candidate would simply be good for business.
Priggee, whose work has been reprinted in Time and Newsweek, asserts with a sigh, “Well, the old adage is what’s best for the cartoonist is worst for the country.”
While many of them say drawing Obama for another four years wouldn’t be so bad — Chris Weyant says it’s fun to sketch a commander in chief as he ages over time — these illustrating experts are ready for a more caricature-friendly candidate.
Brodner admits it’s been a challenge drawing the president over the last few years.
However, Juhasz said, “That whole thing of sensitivity has worn off and you can be a little more playful in terms of drawing Obama. He’s left this untouchable Gandhi-like character and he’s far more vulnerable.”
Juhasz revealed his plan, should Obama win: “You can expect during his second term, his ears to stretch out even more, and his lines going down his face around his mouth, all that great stuff, will start getting pronounced by the very sense of the office itself just aging him incredibly.”
But the cartoonists fear that come next year, they could be stuck depicting the man they consider one of the most snooze-worthy of the Republican candidates.
Calling him “a horror,” Juhasz says of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), “He’s so featureless. Even though you look at him initially, he could be kind of interesting and Herman Munster-like, perhaps. But he’s not. He’s remarkably bland in that square-jawed likeness.”
Weyant laments Romney is “almost as bad as” former Vice President Al Gore. “There’s not enough there,” he said.
Juhasz thinks Romney would be OK: “If you look at him long enough, you can kind of make him a unibrow with these two dark, deep-set eyes. You could kind of make him Frankensteinian.”
Priggee contends that whoever wins the race, the current crop of candidates on the right is a cartoonist’s dream: “It’s like … kid-in-a-candy-store time here.”