Click here for the full cartoon.
The Michael Ramirez cartoon on the L.A. Times op-ed page today is creating a stir. The image evokes the famous Vietnam War photo of a South Vietnamese official executing a bound Viet Cong suspect with a bullet to the head on a Saigon street. In this case, the unfortunate with his hands tied back his back is President Bush and the pistol-pointing shooter is labeled simply "Politics." The mosque in the background makes clear the context is Iraq.
Ramirez is a vocal conservative, so I guess the message is that Bush is undergoing character assassination by critics questioning the war and the truthfulness of his comments on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
The Drudge Report is leading with a item quoting an anonymous Secret Service source who says the cartoon raises security concerns. An unnamed White House reporter calls it the first "snuff cartoon." A reader tipped L.A. Observed after glimpsing the cartoon in Starbucks and being "appalled."
It will be interesting to see if much backlash results. Republicans would call for his head if the cartoon were by the LAT's former liberal sketcher, Paul Conrad. But Ramirez is the Times' most reliable and provocative conservative, by far, so they may take a pass. Liberals around L.A. (and at the paper) loathe Ramirez, so this may be a chance for them to press for his removal, even if they aren't really that upset about the drawing. As for everybody else, well, maybe we are ready for political cartoons that are pretty tasteless.