Cartoonists’ Confab Closes with Jerry Brown, Awards

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By: Dave Astor

Jerry Brown has been the subject of many editorial cartoons, so he was ready when asked about their impact on him.

“If they’re good, they give a certain pleasure or insight, but I don’t think they affect policy,” said the Oakland mayor and former California governor, speaking at the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention’s closing banquet Saturday night. Brown did add that when cartoonists make a politician seem foolish, the politician may try to change his or her behavior somewhat to avoid that label.

Brown, who had been responding to a question from Scott Stantis of The Birmingham (Ala.) News and Copley News Service, also recalled that he was the most cartooned-about California governor during the past 30 years until Arnold Schwarzenegger. He said the three governors inbetween practiced “strategic dullness.”

The former presidential candidate said the state has had only four Democrats elected governor during the last 120 years. “All four left office discredited, but I was the least discredited,” Brown joked. “I take pride in that! And I was the youngest to be discredited.”

Which meant that Brown had time to return to the political scene. He became Oakland’s mayor in 1998, and is trying to become California’s next attorney general. Brown wryly labeled his career arc “strategic discredit.”

Brown — who said a mayor has a better grasp of an average citizen’s real-life problems than a governor does — was also asked about President Bush. “He has a certain resolute quality,” replied Brown. “He goes for it, which can either be folly or courageous. I think the losses [in Iraq] are going to be greater than the gains.”

After Brown finished speaking, convention host Rex Babin of The Sacramento Bee and King Features Syndicate commented at the podium that he and the mayor were dressed similarly — light-colored jackets, no ties, and bluish shirts. “I think my suit is a little more expensive,” Brown deadpanned.

Just before he exited, Brown was presented with a caricature of himself and his fiancee (the marriage is this Saturday) drawn by Steve Benson of The Arizona Republic in Phoenix and United Media.

The banquet also featured awards. Former AAEC President Bruce Plante of the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press received the Ink Bottle honor for service to the organization — service that has lately included work on the new AAEC Web site.

Steve Sack of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Tribune Media Services won the Golden Spike for best killed cartoon during the past year. It was a drawing of Viagra spokesman and former politician Bob Dole wielding an ax symbolizing his attacks on John Kerry. “After all these years, I can still get it up,” said the cartoon Dole.

Matt Davies of The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., and TMS was given one of the last pens Herblock used before his death as a gift for serving as the AAEC’s 2004-5 president.

Wanda Nicholson was cited for her seven years handling the AAEC’s business affairs. She will be ending her association with the organization this fall.

And Terrence Nowicki Jr. received the Locher Award as best college cartoonist.

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