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Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Guardian Political Cartoonist, Steve Bell: How The British View American Politics
How do Brits view American politics?
"In America, they have two political parties. One of them is like The Conservative Party. And the other is like The Conservative Party."
British Cartoonist Steve Bell Draws American Presidents
JULY 31, 2013
Cartoonist Steve Bell has been skewering British politicians since his career took off in the late 1970s. Because his obsession is politics, a good number of American presidents have come in for in his particular brand of satire. His cartoons and comic strips appear in the British newspaper The Guardian where he’s had a cartooning home since 1981.
The first US president Bell caricatured was Jimmy Carter back in 1979. In those early Bell cartoons, Carter is all teeth and what he says is phonetically spelled out in southern drawl (Bell calls it a “hillbilly” accent). Bell’s views are to the left and he admits it’s harder for him to take down Democratic American presidents than Republicans.
His cartoons of Ronald Reagan emphasize the late president’s perfectly coiffed and mysteriously still-jet-black-at-70-something hair. They also show Reagan’s political love affair with the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Bell often does send-ups of the ‘special relationship,’ the phrase coined by Winston Churchill to describe the political and historical ties between Britain and the United States. Bell doesn’t think it’s so special and describes it rather as one that’s “generally slavish on the part of the UK.”
Bell’s cartoons of Bill Clinton include saxophones and, yes, penis metaphors. It’s when he gets to George W. Bush that Bell takes the gloves off completely.
Cartoon: Steve Bell, The Guardian, United Kingdom
Early George W. Bush cartoons by Bell show the former president as decidedly simian, the sidekick chimp from “Bedtime for Bonzo,” a 1951 film comedy that starred Ronald Reagan. But the chimp caricatures of George W. Bush turn sinister after the US launches the war against Iraq. During that period, Bell pillories both the American president and then British Prime Minister Tony Blair for leading the charge to war.
Bell admits his own political views make it easier for him to take down Republican presidents than Democrats. But his caricatures of current President Barack Obama do display deep ambivalence about Obama’s commitment to, among other things, closing down the detention center at Guantanamo.