In Shadow, Bob Woodward describes George Bush, at the height of his popularity immediately following the Gulf War, whining to his diary about a cartoonist who wrote jokes about his manhood. Garry Trudeau, Bush wrote, was “a little elitist who is spoiled, derisive, ugly and nasty.” I’m rubber, you’re glue, bounce off me and stick to you!
George W. Bush doesn’t seem to like the creator of “Doonesbury” much, either. (To remind yourself why, click on “Flashbacks,” and when the little box with the search engine appears, enter “Bush.” Chatterbox is especially fond of the second installment of “President and First Lady Deal With a Rat,” dated Sept. 5, 1989.) In George W.’s case, however, there’s a little history to the relationship. Here is what W. told the Dallas Morning News in 1994:
Curious about the old-school tie between the likely Republican presidential nominee and America’s preeminent comic-strip artist, Chatterbox asked Trudeau for his recollections of George W. Bush at Yale. Specifically, Chatterbox wanted to check out a rumor that, while at Yale, W. told Trudeau to quit fiddling with that infernal liberal comic strip. Apparently, the rumor is not true. In an e-mail, Trudeau explained that he didn’t start writing “Bulltales” (as “Doonesbury” was called before Trudeau syndicated it) until the fall of 1968. W. had graduated the previous spring. Trudeau also pointed out that not many people were calling his comic strip “liberal” during its early years: “Indeed, when I first started syndication, Time called “Doonesbury” reactionary. Time!”
“The only story I can think of that comes close,” Trudeau wrote,
Fast forward to the 1980s:
But wait a minute, Chatterbox thought. What about W.’s telling Trudeau–making it, in fact, “absolutely clear”—that he “didn’t like it … didn’t like it at all”? A possible future president roughs you up and you don’t remember it? Chatterbox queried Trudeau about the Dallas Morning News quote. “OK, we’re getting into a shaky territory here,” Trudeau answered, “because I have a notoriously bad memory.”
I have only seen Dubya once since graduation—I think it was at some command NBC event my wife [Jane Pauley] dragged me to. We did talk briefly, but I remember it as being completely non-confrontational, that if anything I was subjected to a charm offensive. That was back when the Bushes were still trying to woo me over from the Dark Side. Early on, Bar even purchased an original, making a nice contribution to the Coalition for the Homeless. She hung it on the wall at the Maine compound, but things got ugly shortly thereafter …