Cast

In the 10 or so years that I’ve been doing this comic, I’ve mocked a wide variety of politicians. Many of them, sadly, are already long forgotten. Here’s a refresher on some of the faces you’ll see in the archive.

Note: I’m still in the process of tagging everything. As a result, some of the links below may not lead to much, especially for some of the older characters, but rest assured this will improve as I continue to work my way through. Don’t take it for granted, in other words, that if you only see a few cartoons, no more exist. In the meantime, you can always just use the search bar on the right.

Part I: Canadians — Part II: AmericansPart III: Foreigners

 

CANADIANS:

STEPHEN HARPER,
prime minister of Canada (2006- )

A longtime conservative activist, Harper was picked to lead Canada’s right-wing Alliance party in 2002, replacing Stockwell Day. He then proceeded to initiate a merger with Canada’s other conservative party, and became supreme leader of the new super party, creatively titled the Conservative Party of Canada. In 2006, Harper rode a wave of popular discontent with the ruling Liberals and defeated incumbent PM Paul Martin to become Canada’s 27th prime minister. Though Harper faces a lot of criticism for being “too right-wing for Canada,” he generally governs in a slow, “incrementalist” sort of way, making small conservative reforms here and there but rarely dramatic changes.

See Stephen Harper cartoons.

MICHAEL IGNATIEFF,
Liberal Party leader (2008-2011)

Michael “Iggy” Ignatieff (pronounced Ig-natty-eff) was a big important professor at Harvard before he moved back to Canada to become leader of the Liberal Party. Iggy’s considered fairly conservative by Liberal Party standards, and was appointed leader largely as a moderate alternative to Stephane Dion, who came before him. Somehow, however, he ended up being even less popular than Dion, and led his party to an unprecedented third place finish in the 2011 Canadian federal election. As a rather stiff intelectual-type who had spent much of his adult life living outside of Canada, Iggy was always resented by a wide swatch of voters, and the country never warmed to him.

See Michael Ignatieff cartoons.

STEPHANE DION,
Liberal Party leader (2006-2008)

Stephane (pronounced Stay-fan, not Stephanie) was a law professor who was chosen to lead the Liberal Party of Canada after Paul Martin resigned in defeat. His big thing was the environment, which he wanted to save, and a “carbon tax” which he wanted to implement to help save it. This was not a popular idea, and Dion failed to defeat Prime Minister Harper in the 2008 general election. He then proceeded to launch a weird sort of coup-ish thing a few months later, and tried to get the Governor General to fire Harper, but that didn’t work either. Having failed at everything, Dion was forced out in shame, and Michael Ignatieff replaced him.

See Stephane Dion cartoons.

PAUL MARTIN,
prime minister of Canada (2003-2006)

Paul was a wealthy steamship line CEO who wound up serving as finance minister in the administration of Prime Minister Chretien. He was considerably more conservative than the PM, and advocated various spending cuts, tax breaks and other things to get Canada’s finances in order during the recession-plagued 1990s. For helping steer Canada from an era of deficits and debt to an era of record surpluses, he earned great praise from the finance scene, and became the most popular politician in Canada. In the early 2000s, much of Canadian politics was dominated by Martin’s efforts to force Chretien to resign, so he could rule Canada unopposed. This finally happened in 2003, but Martin proved to be a fairly lackluster prime minister once in office, and accomplished very little. He lost his 2006 bid for re-election to Stephen Harper.

See Paul Martin cartoons.

Jack Layton,
NDP leader (2003-2011)

Layton was a city councillor in Toronto before being chosen as leader of the social-democratic NDP, or “New Democratic Party” in 2003. Like all NDP leaders, Layton was a loud, left-wing critic of both the Liberals and Conservatives and tried his best to benefit in typical third-party fashion. During the Martin years the Liberal Party only held a plurality of seats in the Canadian parliament, which gave Layton, as leader of the swing faction, a lot of power over the government’s agenda — or so he imagined. Unusually for an NDP politician, his approval ratings remained consistently high, and in the 2011 federal election he staged an amazing upset victory, beating the Liberals for a strong second place status in the House of Commons. Having long battled with cancer, he tragically died in office a few weeks later.

See Jack Layton cartoons.

Gilles Duceppe,
leader of the Bloc Quebecois (1997-2011)

Gilles Duceppe (pronounced by English-Canadians as Jills Doo-cep) was the second and fourth leader of the separatist Bloc Quebcois party, and the longest-serving party leader in contemporary Canadian history. He successfully led his party through five federal elections, always winning the majority of Quebec’s seats, but was then destroyed in election number six, when his party was crushed in a massive NDP landslide. Despite his longevity in office, Duceppe has always been resented by the mainstream Canadian political establishment, and is often portrayed as the “villain” of the House of Commons, for his traitorous ways.

See Gilles Duceppe cartoons.


JEAN CHRETIEN,
prime minister of Canada (1993-2003)

Chretien served as prime minister of Canada for ten long years, having successfully ended an equally lengthy reign of Conservative rule in the 1993 election. With the assistance of Paul Martin, his government helped steer Canada’s economy from the brink of collapse, and into an era of great peace and prosperity. He won re-election twice, for a total of three terms, and soon saw himself as one of the great juggernauts of Canadian political history. Chretien was quite crooked and schemey in his own way, of course. He was a master of parliamentary tricks and gimmicks, and consolidated ever-greater power in his own office. Chretien’s third term was dominated mostly by infighting with the Paul Martin-supporting faction of the Liberal caucus, and rumors of an elaborate money-laundering scandal in the province of Quebec. He stepped down for the good of his party in 2003.

See Jean Chretien cartoons.

STOCKWELL DAY,
leader of the Alliance party (2000-2001)

Poor Stockwell Day was a bit of a flash in the pan, as you can see from his dates. Stockwell came from nowhere to lead the right-wing Canadian Alliance Party during the brief period in which it was the second-largest party in Canada. He was young and charismatic, but had a sort of goofy style, and was often teased for his Christian fundamentalism. After losing the 2000 federal election to Prime Minister Chretien, many Alliance people demanded Day resign his leadership position. Day refused to do so for a very long time, creating this big protracted crisis. Eventually he did step down, and Stephen Harper became Alliance leader, and later prime minister. He served for a while in Harper’s cabinet.

See Stockwell Day cartoons.

AMERICANS:

BARACK OBAMA,
president of the United States (2009- )

Barack is the first non-white President of the United States, which is considered a very big deal in race-obsessed America. By historical standards, he’s also one of the most novice politicians to assume the presidency, having served less than a single term in the US Senate prior to his election. The upbeat Obama was elected at a time of massive political disillusion in the United States, spawned by the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush. He promised lots of “hope” and “change” but it remains to be seen how successful he will be. To date, the President’s greatest successes have been the passage of massive health care reform and a variety of stimulus plans to resuscitate the lagging American economy. He also won a Nobel Peace Prize.

See Barack Obama cartoons.

GEORGE W. BUSH,
president of the United States (2001-2009)

The former governor of Texas and the son of President George H.W. Bush, Bush Jr. became president following one of the closet races in American history. That election badly split the country, and polarized opinion dominated his two terms. The Bush presidency was largely dominated by the so-called “War on Terror,” which was initiated when Bush invaded Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks. He later invaded Iraq as well, for far more hazily-defined reasons. The Iraq War in particular became increasingly unpopular as the years went on, as did the President’s efforts to limit civil liberties for security reasons. Then the economy tanked in 2008, and Bush’s reputation as an awful president was pretty much solidified. Naive and impulsive, but also instinctive and thoughtful, the best he can probably hope for at this point is that history will deem him a “complicated” president.

See George W. Bush cartoons.

JOHN KERRY,
Democratic presidential candidate (2004)

Kerry, the second US senator from Massachusetts, ran against President Bush in the 2004 presidential election. If people elected him, he said, America would be “stronger at home” and “respected abroad” or something along those lines. He promised to end Bush’s war in Iraq, and make Europeans like the United States again. And other stuff. Before he became a politician, Kerry was a distinguished soldier in the Vietnam War, and won three purple, heart-shaped medals. He later became an outspoken critic of the war, which was controversial because soldiers are not supposed to have opinions. After he lost the 2004 election, Kerry went back to the Senate, where he serves to this day.

See John Kerry cartoons.

DICK CHENEY,
Vice president of the United States (2001-2009)

Cheney served as Secretary of Defense under the first President Bush, where he was known for his hawkish administration of the first Gulf War. Tapped as George W. Bush‘s running mate in the 2000 presidential election, he quickly became characterized as a sort of substitute father-figure for the politically naive commander-in-chief. During his eight years in office, Cheney tended to embrace the most extreme solutions to domestic security problems, having supposedly been radicalized by 9-11. He was a huge proponent of the 2003 Iraq War, and had he been president, there would have probably been wars with about another dozen countries, too. Though not a terribly old man, Cheney has been plagued by continual heart problems, many of which he experienced while in office.

See Dick Cheney cartoons.

JOHN McCAIN,
Republican presidential candidate (2008)

A moderate Republican by contemporary standards, McCain, an elderly senator from Arizona, first ran for president against George W. Bush in the 2000 GOP primary. He quietly minded his own business for the next eight years, then ran again in 2008, this time clinching his party’s nomination. Though supposedly the ideal “sort” of Republican for a national ticket, McCain’s age and awkward charms never could quite compete with the youth and natural charisma of Barack Obama. He lost the presidency once again, and returned to the Senate. McCain’s most lasting legacy may very well be Sarah Palin, his unconventional running mate who ended up eclipsing what little star power the Senator had left.

See John McCain cartoons.

FOREIGNERS:

SADDAM HUSSEIN,
dictator of Iraq (1979-2003)

One of the most horrific dictators of the 20th Century, Saddam ascended to the presidency of Iraq on a wave of purges and killings. Once in power, his reign was marked by almost constant war. In 1980, his regime invaded Iran, triggering an eight-year conflict between the two countries. Then, in 1991, he invaded the small oil-rich nation of Kuwait, prompting the intervention of American and UN forces. After the attacks of September 11, Hussein was declared one of America’s primary enemies by the George W. Bush administration, for his supposed links to organized terror and “weapons of mass destruction.” In 2003, American and British forces invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam. The new Iraqi government put him on trial for war crimes, and in 2006 he was executed.

See Saddam Hussein cartoons.

VLADIMIR PUTIN,
ruler of Russia (2000- )

Putin served as head of the post-Soviet KGB for a number of years before being appointed prime minister of Russia by President Boris Yeltsin in 1999. When Yeltsin resigned the following year, Putin became president automatically, and moved quickly to consolidate his power. In contrast to his predecessor, Putin has moved Russia back towards an authoritarian model of government, with tighter limits on press freedom and elections that are not quite so free and fair. His government has also sought to meddle more actively in the affairs of Russia’s neighbors, and ensure Moscow-friendly regimes are not threatened — with force if necessary.

See Vladimir Putin cartoons.

OSAMA BIN LADEN,
boss of al-Qaeda (1988-2011)

Born to wealth and status in Saudi Arabia, Bin Laden emerged as the black sheep of his influential family. Embracing an extremist, highly radical vein of Islam, as a young man he traveled the world supporting various “holy wars” against so-called “infidel” armies and governments. In 1988, he founded the radical terrorist network al-Qaeda, dedicated to the destruction of the non-Islamic world through epic acts of indiscriminate violence. After successfully orchestrating several smaller attacks, in 2001 Bin Laden came to worldwide attention when al-Qaeda successfully blew up the World Trade Center in New York City. He remained the world’s most wanted man for nearly a decade, before being assassinated by US forces in a darring raid.

See Osama Bin Laden cartoons.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU,
prime minister of Israel (2009- )

In what is probably the most dramatic comeback in Middle Eastern history since Lazarus, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu was able to win a second term as Israel’s prime minister in 2009, despite being out of power for over a decade. In opposition, he had opposed Prime Minister Sharon’s Gaza withdrawal efforts, and remained a staunch proponent of the idea that there should be no compromise with the Palestinians, period. Now that he’s actually in power, however, his anti-Palestinian dogmatism has softened somewhat, and the peace process has been grudgingly restarted.

See Benjamin Netanyahu cartoons.


HUGO CHAVEZ,
president of Venezuela (1999- )

Hugo Chavez was elected as the legitimate president of Venezuela in 1999, a few years after his unsuccessful attempt to gain the office via coup. An outspoken socialist, he’s used his decade in power to transform the Venezuelan economy along Cuban lines, consolidating state control of business and natural resources at the expense of private industry. This led to a business-backed coup in 2002, but Chavez bounced back stronger than ever. Though he’s ostensibly committed to democracy, in recent years Chavez has become more comfortable palling around with dictators, whose techniques of media control and dissent suppression he openly copies.

See Hugo Chavez cartoons.

FIDEL CASTRO,
leader of Cuba (1959-2011)

The world’s longest-reigning non-monarchical head of state, Fidel Castro came to power in a Marxist coup five decades ago, kicking out dictator Fulgencio Batista, who, by the standards of the time, was deemed to have overstayed his welcome. With heavy support from the Soviet Union, Cuba was transformed into a “model” Communist society where poverty was distributed equally among the masses. In the late 2000s he formally stepped down as president of Cuba, handing day-to-day governing authority to his slightly less elderly brother, Raul. The elder Castro remains an important spiritual adviser to the regime, however.

See Fidel Castro cartoons.

POPE BENEDICT XVI,
head of the Roman Catholic Church (2005- )

His Holiness the Pope was elected Vicar of Christ in 2005, following the death of longtime incumbent John Paul II. Benedict’s election surprised few; he had been one of the old Pope’s closest confidants in life, and was widely regarded as being the obvious heir apparent. In contrast to the pragmatism of John Paul, however, Benedict has been far more unapologetically conservative in his deeds and rhetoric, and a persistent intellectual critic of what he considers to be the soulless modernity of modern times. A great deal of the Pope’s present energy continues to be devoted to damage control over the ongoing sex abuse scandals that have proved exceedingly damaging to the Church’s public image.

See Pope Benedict cartoons.

MAHMOUD ABBAS,
leader of the Palestinians (2004- )

In the final days of Arafat‘s reign (and life), international pressure demanded the Palestinian government move away from its system of one-man rule and embrace a more robust democratic, parliamentary form of government. In 2003, Abbas was hence appointed as the first Palestinian prime minister, and moved quickly to consolidate his own power independent of Arafat. When Arafat died, he in turn assumed total control. Abbas is considered a fairly moderate figure, though his ability to effectively rein in extremists is often questioned. The US and EU have high hopes for him, however, but it remains to be seen how well he can get along with his latest Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu.

See Mahmoud Abbas cartoons.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD,
president of Iran (2005- )

The ultra-conservative Mahmoud “Johnny” Ahmadinejad was elected president of Iran in 2005, ending the two-term reign of the so-called reformist president Mohammad Khatami. Ahmadinejad quickly proved that he intended to be nothing like his predecessor, spouting fiery rhetoric about the destruction of Israel and and questioning the existence of the Holocaust. He’s also been unyielding in his defense of Iran’s right to obtain enriched uranium — the first step to building an atomic bomb — despite enormous international outcry. Of course, since Iran is hardly a true democracy, Ahmadeinejad’s carefully stage-managed elections have been seen as little more than an effort by Iran’s true ruling clique of fundamentalist imams to consolidate their own power at a time when fundamentalism is rapidly falling out of fashion with the Iranian people themselves.

See Ahmadinejad cartoons.

KIM JONG IL,
leader of North Korea (1997?-2011)

Kim became president-for-life of North Korea sometime after the death of his father, Kim Il Sung, in the early 1990s. His style of rule over the world’s last remaining Stalinist totalitarian nightmare prison-state was mostly predictable. Around the mid-2000s, it was revealed that his nation had finally succeeded in its long quest to obtain nuclear weapons, and since then the rest of the planet has been walking on eggshells in their dealings with the North. Kim died in 2011, and a third-generation Kim, Kim Jong Un, took over.

See Kim Jong Il cartoons.

Tony BLAIR,
prime minister of the U.K. (1997-2007)

After years in the political wilderness, Anthony “Tony ” Blair helped orchestrate the return of the British Labour Party to power, largely by moderating and modernizing its previously far-left platform. Championing a so-called “third way” of moderate, centrist politics, Blair earned great success as a thoughtful and youthful leader for a fast-changing Britain. Things changed after September 11, however, when Blair recast his defining identity as that of an unwavering ally of the United States. He supported the American invasion of Afghanistan, and then, much more controversially Iraq, sending thousands of British soldiers to both missions. At home, the “security state” was ramped up, especially in the wake of a 2005 domestic terrorist attack. By 2007, Blair had become a tired, unpopular leader and slunk off rather than face an internal party revolt led by his longtime Labour rival, Gordon Brown.

See Tony Blair cartoons.

Queen ELIZABETH II,
head of state of the Commonwealth (1952- )

Her Majesty by the Grace of God, Elizabeth the Second, has been one of the longest-reigning monarchs in British history, presiding over nearly six decades of social and political change. As monarch, she has enjoyed consistently high personal popularity for her unpretentious dignity and grandmotherly style. As an institution, however, the monarchy has been widely questioned under her reign, both in Britain and especially abroad, in the dozen or so Commonwealth nations in which she also serves as queen. The personal scandals of the royal family and a general sense of democratic distaste for hereditary rule in the 21st Century have led many to wonder if Elizabeth will prove to be Britain’s last monarch — or at least the last popular one.

See Queen Elizabeth cartoons.

ARIEL SHARON,
prime minister of Israel (2001-2006)

A former defense minister under the controversial right-wing Israeli premier Menachem Begin, General Sharon had a longstanding reputation as a man of war. His election as prime minister seemed to not bode terribly well for the Middle Eastern peace process, and indeed, initially his tenure was marked by a series of extremely vindictive retaliations against Palestinian terrorists, including the razing of entire villages. In his second term, however, the General seemed to turn over a new leaf, and organized a withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip — long a point of contention. The move was so controversial among members of the Israeli right that Sharon was forced out of his own political party and founded a new one, though a crippling stroke shortly after forced him out of politics for good.

See Ariel Sharon cartoons.

YASSER ARAFAT,
leader of the Palestinians (1989-2004)

Though a formal “Palestinian Authority” government has only existed since 1994, Arafat was de facto leader of the Palestinian people for much longer, in his capacity as head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Originally an explicitly anti-Semitic terrorist outfit opposed to Israeli existence, over the years both the group and Arafat himself adopted a more moderate tone in order to gain greater international approval for their quest for a Palestinian state. In 1994, Arafat won a Nobel Peace prize for signing a peace treaty with the Israelis, but then later walked away from a more comprehensive treaty that would have finally established a Palestinian state once and for all. In his final years, Arafat lost much of his credibility and became sidelined by more extremist elements within the Palestinian community, dying a corrupt and unpopular slumlord of a still disenfranchised people.

See Yasser Arafat cartoons.

JACQUES CHIRAC,
president of France (1995-2007)

A figure in French political life for over four decades, Chirac became president of France in 1995 after having served two successful terms in the lower office of prime minister, as well as a stint as mayor of Paris. Though a conservative himself, he was elected with an unusual coalition of right- and left- wing support, which Chirac handled by governing rightward in domestic affairs, but leftward in foreign matters. And the main foreign matter that would come to define his tenure, was of course, the 2003 Iraq War, which Chirac would strenuously oppose. His threat of veto in the Security Council saw President George W. Bush launch the war without UN approval, allowing Chirac to wrap himself in the cloak of international justice. Domestically, Chirac’s term saw France polarized by increasing social tension and violence between its native-born and rising Muslim immigrant population.

See Jacques Chirac cartoons.





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