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Jerry Ford Comes on Strong, and the Cartoonists Quiver

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With increasing talk of President Nixon’s resignation or impeachment and conviction, a special group of men has been paying particular attention to Vice-President Gerald Ford: the nation’s editorial cartoonists. Since he took office last December, the even-featured Ford has proven a difficult prey for cartoonists, who thrive on distinctive physical characteristics that lend themselves to exaggeration. The cartoonists zeroed in on the flapping ears of Lyndon Johnson and the ski-jump nose of Richard Nixon. But so far Ford—like such bland-looking men as Dwight Eisenhower and George McGovern—has stumped them. While many cartoonists protest that the definitive Ford isn’t all that hard to depict, drawings of the Vice-President are often labeled “Ford”—the cartoonist’s equivalent of explaining a punch line. The problem may be short-lived, though. Says Doug Marlette of the Charlotte Observer. “I have a Pinocchio theory: the longer someone is in politics, the longer his nose gets. At first Ford was bland but now his lip has grown longer, his eyes have gotten beadier and his forehead has shrunk.”