Secret Service Questions Cartoonist

I think it was tasteless, but I still find it strange that the Secret Service sought Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist Michael Ramirez for questioning. Oddly enough, Ramirez, who works for the the Los Angelese Times, is a conservative, and intended his cartoon to show support for President Bush.

Republican Representative Christopher Cox has jumped to Ramirez's defense. I wonder if he would have done the same were Ramirez a liberal?

The Secret Service used "profoundly bad judgment" in seeking to question a Los Angeles Times cartoonist over a political cartoon depicting a man pointing a gun at President Bush, a senior House Republican said Tuesday.

Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the Secret Service owed Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Michael Ramirez an apology "and the public is owed an explanation both of how this happened and why it will not happen again."

The use of "federal power to attempt to influence the work of an editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times," Cox said in a letter to U.S. Secret Service Director Ralph Basham, "reflects profoundly bad judgment."

The Times, in an article in its Tuesday edition, said a Secret Service agent visited the paper's Los Angeles office for what he said was a routine inquiry following the publication on Sunday of Ramirez' cartoon. The agent talked to a Times attorney but was told he could not speak to Ramirez.

The Secret Service is responsible for looking into any perceived threats against the president.

The cartoon is a takeoff of a chilling 1968 photograph from the Vietnam War showing Vietnamese police Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting a man he said was a Viet Cong in the right temple on a Saigon street.

In the cartoon, the man pointing the gun at a caricature of the president has "politics" written across his back, and there's a sign on the street scene in the back reading "Iraq."

The Times quoted Ramirez as saying he was not advocating violence against Bush but trying to show that the president is the target of political assassination because of his State of the Union address when he used faulty intelligence to back up claims of Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

I have a few questions.
  • 1) This guy won a Pulitzer?
  • 2) How does "POLITICS" serve in a metaphorically similar role as Gen. Nguyen does in the infamous Vietnam picture?
  • 3) How is George Bush like the Viet Cong?
  • 4) Is anyone surprised that the Secret Service misinterpreted this?