I didn’t blog today because I did something fun: I went into the City to hear Michael Ramirez give a talk at a luncheon that the Pacific Research Institute hosted. The lunch took place at the Ritz-Carlton, which is indeed a very ritzy hotel, so that was quite the inducement (not to mention having a very good parking lot nearby).
The real draw, of course, was Michael Ramirez himself. I’ve learned to love his editorial cartoons through the Investor’s Business Daily editorial page. They are amazing cartoons. The first thing one notices is that they’re beautifully drawn. Ramirez is a gifted artist. Visual beauty, though, won’t go very far if one wants to make a career as a political cartoonist. One needs a depth and breadth of knowledge, wit, and the ability to distill complex ideas into very short phrases without losing anything. Ramirez does it all. It’s no wonder that he’s won two Pulitzer Prizes. Although I don’t think much of the Pulitzer lately, Ramirez’s wins give it some cachet.
The fact that a person is a gifted artist and satirist is no guarantee that he will be a good speaker. I went in hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. I got lucky, in that Ramirez realized my hopes, rather than confirming my fears. He is a delightful speaker: informed, funny, elegant, passionate and fluid. He talked about Reagan’s greatness, about the media’s dishonesty, about Obama’s ineptitude, and myriad other subjects in between.
In the small amount of time remaining at the end of his talk, he showed some cartoons from his recently published book Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion. We in the audience roared with laughter, we groaned with political pain, and we fell silent at the moving cartoons that acknowledged the big tragedies that have hit the Western world.
If Ramirez comes to your town, make the time to hear him speak (even if he’s not speaking at your local Ritz-Carlton). He’s a master at the art of editorial cartooning, and a delight as a speaker. So, really, can you do better than that? Oh, and of course you should buy the book.