A political cartoon in the hands of a master such as Michael Leunig can take you straight to the (often dark) heart of a matter. In lesser hands, it can misrepresent and mislead.
This was the case with Moir's cartoon in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald: Obama stands atop a small, cube-shaped castle in a desert landscape, leaning wearily on the battlements, the very picture of exasperation. The word 'PEACE' is prominently displayed above the castle door, which bears an 'ENTER' sign. In the desert below, Israel (Netanyahu) and Palestine (Abbas), portrayed as blind men, complete with dark glasses and canes, wander aimlessly in opposite directions, tapping their canes.
The message: Obama, an honest broker, knows exactly what is required for a lasting peace in the Middle East and is doing his level best to achieve it. Netanyahu and Abbas, however, equally blind and equally lost, are obviously incapable of coming to the party. Poor, long-suffering Obama, is destined to be disappointed.
Moir is clearly out of his depth on this issue. He has no understanding of the underlying dynamic: Obama is Israel's ho; Netanyahu a vicious, swaggering bully, pumped on US steroids; and Abbas a shifty, servile beggar.
To approximate this, Moir's 'Peace' castle should be replaced by a rat trap surrounded by smoking ruins and broken and bleeding Palestinian bodies. A crumb labelled 'Palestinian state' sits on the catch. An Abbas rat sniffs it gingerly as Netanyahu and Obama walk off into a sunset labelled 'Israel-US Co-Prosperity Sphere'. Obama's head lolls on Netanyahu's shoulder, his left arm tenderly circling his waist. Netanyahu's right hand vigorously fondles Obama's bum.