Barack Obama has a serious problem that is being overlooked by virtually everyone in the media. Doesn’t matter whether it’s The New York Times, MSNBC or Fox News. Though, at the Times, perhaps Maureen Dowd knows what I’m talking about?
I’ve been covering U.S. presidents, in caricature and political cartoon, for a career that dates back to the Nixon administration. Beyond that, I’ve drawn ALL 43 presidents (remember -- Grover Cleveland served non-consecutive terms), and I’ve been drawing our presidents since I was old enough to pick up a pencil. Don’t believe me? Here’s a caricature I drew of Chester Alan Arthur, our 21st president, when I was SIX YEARS OLD! Admittedly, I wasn’t much of a draftsman then. Or much of a speller.
My point? Simply put, Barack Obama is the MOST BORING PRESIDENT to occupy the White House since I first started getting paid to draw caricatures. The most interesting presidents during my cartooning career? Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, of course -- endlessly fascinating, both of them. In and out of office, they have been a gift to editorial cartoonists and caricaturists everywhere!
But Barack Obama even makes that most white bread, "all-American" of presidents, Gerald Ford, seem scintillating. It was more interesting to watch Ford butter toast in his pajamas and bathrobe than it is to see Obama do almost anything.
Why? That’s the mystery. In reality, Obama has a terrific face for caricature. One of the best in our history. The plains of his face are wonderful to draw and exaggerate. His eyes are fierce, his ears the biggest since LBJ’s. His mouth is most distinctive, and his trademark, 1000-watt smile dazzles. It’s what he does, and how he acts, that is so darn dull.
President Obama never says anything funny, unless it’s a line handed to him by a speechwriter. Nor does he utter stupid, silly or inane things, like George W. Bush or “Poppy” Bush when they were president. Obama isn’t gripping or compelling one moment, like Bill Clinton, or asinine the next...like Clinton. Obama may be easy to draw, but he’s not a walking caricature, like Reagan, Jimmy Carter or...Bill Clinton. And he doesn’t have a Nixonian dark side, no matter the picture that Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, or “birthers” paint of the man on a daily basis.
Why are these things important when judging Barack Obama, or any president? Because it’s hard to care about a president in political trouble when he’s just THAT dull!
It’s hard to rouse the faithful, and impossible to keep independents from drifting away out of boredom. And right-wing loonies have nothing to fear, no matter how outrageous their charges. Nobody really cares that much.
FDR had no such problem during the Great Depression. Roosevelt was effervescent, witty, upbeat, and tireless in going after his attackers. Barack Obama, leading Americans during the “great recession,” comes off as a president in a permanent funk. Millions have lost their jobs, and We the People have simply lost interest.
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