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Bush Wanted To ‘Kick The Hell’ Out Of ‘Doonesbury’ Cartoonist

October 15, 1987

ATLANTA (AP) _ Vice President George Bush says he can now laugh at Garry Trudeau’s ″Doonesbury″ cartoons depicting him as gutless and invisible, but he once wanted - and his sons still want - ″to kick (Trudeau’s) ass.″

In an interview in The Atlanta Constitution today, Bush spoke about his image and his portrayal in ″Doonesbury″ since 1984, when he was shown placing his ″manhood in a blind trust″ to be President Reagan’s loyal running mate.

″My first reaction was anger, testiness, getting upset,″ Bush said. ″I thought, what the hell? Who is this, you know, elitist ... who never ran for sheriff, never taken his case to the people? Who is this little guy that comes out of some of the same background as me?

″So I had that personal feeling that I wanted to go up and kick the hell out of him, frankly.″

But Bush said ″there’s been an evolution″ in his attitude toward the cartoonist - after three years and a drink with Trudeau.

″Now I smile and say, ’Hey, let the man do his thing,‴ Bush said. ″I literally can laugh at some of his stuff.″

Bush said if he felt Trudeau’s satire ″was really diminishing me, maybe I would re-think my lofty position. But I feel stronger politically than I’ve ever felt in my life.

″I can’t say I’m not concerned,″ he went on. ″But it’s a different, funny kind of emotional and physical reaction than it was four years ago.″

Bush has recently emphasized his World War II record, business success and accomplishments in government, including a one-year stint as CIA director, to dispel the ″wimp factor.″

He said his oldest son, George Jr., attended Yale University with Trudeau, and was contacted by the cartoonist recently, when Bush was again featured unflatteringly in the strip.

″Trudeau says to our son, ‘Well, I hope your family doesn’t take this personally.’ And George says, ’They don’t take it personally, but my brother (Jeb) wanted to come up and kick your ass all over New York,‴ the vice president said.

″And that’s exactly the way my sons feel because they know it’s not true and they know it’s not fair. So they are today where I was back in 1984.″

Bush said the political process sometimes ″is a little uglier than need be,″ citing the cover of Newsweek’s current edition as an example. The issue hit newsstands Monday, the day Bush formally announced his presidential candidacy.

″I thought the Newsweek cover was a cheap shot the day I announced, but ... I’ve got a better mental attitude on that kind of thing,″ said the vice president who was in Atlanta on Wednesday on a campaign stop.

The cover, with a picture of a determined-looking Bush steering a boat, is headlined, ″Fighting the ’Wimp Factor.‴

The magazine reported that its poll of 1,013 adults found that 51 percent believe Bush’s ″wimp image″ will be a serious problem in his presidential bid.

Bush is concerned enough about the image to include references to his combat experiences in his standard campaign speech.

″I never used to discuss being in the service, but when I take a shot like that, I say, ’Hey, go talk to the guys I flew in combat with,‴ he said. ″I fought for my country. I leave out asking where some of my critics were.″

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