Jack Ohman

From hair to gaffes to scandals, Bill Clinton ranks high on cartoonist’s checklist

In this septic tank of an election season, I am often asked if I enjoy drawing Donald Trump.

No. I do not. Not at all.

The reason is simple: What’s to exaggerate? Every aspect of Trump’s persona is so over the top that drawing a cartoon about him is more of an illustration exercise: He Said This, I Draw Him and Put It in a Word Balloon.


As the humorist/musician Tom Lehrer once noted, “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”

But I will say that I am anxiously anticipating going back to the drawing board with Clinton. Not Hillary. Bill.

Hillary Clinton is cautious, measured and Eisenhower-like in her carefully cultivated Offend-No-One manner. Her husband, on the other hand, gives me just enough room to do actual satire, not direct transcription.

I’ve never been a major fan of Bill Clinton’s, exactly. I knew so many guys in high school like him: the kid who so desperately wants approval that you vote for him just to shut him up. A woman friend of mine once observed that “everybody dated a boy like Bill Clinton,” and even his own wife said Bill was “a hard dog to keep on the porch.”

Ahem. You know.

That means, this guy is totally full of hot gas and McDonald’s french fries, so adept at running his mouth that he’ll get voted “Most Likely to Become a Pretty Good Defense Attorney and Rather Effective at Singles Bars.”

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I’m just a li’l ol’ (chuckle) lawyer from Arkansas, but I hope you can find it in your heart, like the Lord, to forgive my client’s trespasses and return an innocent verdict. Oh, and Juror No. Four, can I get your phone number?”

Clinton’s presidency was kind of a mixed bag, what with the impeachment and all, but he did happen to be in the right place at the right time when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs hit the lottery. Generally speaking, I never lacked for amusing material from Jan. 20, 1993, until Jan. 20, 2001.

Cartoonists have little internal checklists for caricature subjects. Hair? Check? Funny expressions? Check. Gaffe propensity? Check. Whiff o’ scandal? Check. Bill has all of these, but with a twist: He has a bit of likability, unlike the GOP presidential nominee.

Bill also has a trace of human frailty and contrition. “Baby, I love you and I promise I’ll never, ever do it again.” He doesn’t blame the open mic.

Watching Bill Clinton explain something, whether it’s something he did wrong or some arcane aspect of public policy, is truly more entertaining than anything Trump explains. Clinton, for example, can speak in complete sentences, not like a combination of cat meme and white supremacist rally.

Bill Clinton even lies better than Trump. When Bill lies, his face gets all red and two large jaw muscles on each side pop out, very useful in caricaturing. Former Sen. Bob Kerrey once said that “Bill Clinton is an unusually good liar. Unusually good.”

Now there’s an endorsement.

We want politicians to give us straight lines so we can write the joke. We don’t want them to actually write the joke. Otherwise, we’re out of work.

I am going to look forward to lots and lots of Bill and Hillary cartoons, mostly of Bill mansplainin’ something or the other to his wife, the president, his long fingers wildly gesticulating while she’s womanlistenin’.

Trump? Little fingers I can barely see.

We are just talking about fingers, people.

And if Trump wins, satire will move to Canada.

I’ll be here, doing illustration.