Cartoonist Jules Feiffer dropped a pinpoint protest on First Lady Laura Bush’s National Book Festival on October 12 in Washington. As a children’s book author, Feiffer took part in the festival activities, but because of his opposition to a a war against Iraq, he declined an invitation to breakfast at the White House (see below). He failed to persuade any fellow authors to join him. “Virtually everybody I talked to is against the war,” he said, “but they felt we were going to get into it anyhow so what’s the use. That’s why I felt I had to do something. How easily this President, whom none of these people respect, is allowed to get away with it.” Feiffer was reminded of artists turning down White House invitations during the Vietnam War as a protest.

Mrs. George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mrs. Bush,

I wish that I could come to your National Book Festival breakfast at the White House on Saturday, but after giving it much thought, I can’t attend.

I was thrilled to be invited, along with other writers and illustrators, to help celebrate your campaign to inspire young people in the pleasures of reading.

But I find it unbearably ironic that, while the uses of language are celebrated by you and your renowned guests, elsewhere in the White House language is being traduced and transformed to nudge us into war.

There are honest arguments on both sides of the Iraq debate (such as it is), but it seems necessary on the occasion of a celebration of reading to press the point that words, at their finest, don’t set out to confuse or obscure. Their aim is to clarify.

But clarity is not what we’re getting from your husband’s White House. It seems that clarity would deny him a war.

I am a father and a grandfather. As every parent knows, most children can intuit whether the stories their parents tell them are true or if they’re making them up.

The American people are able to tell too.

I am delighted to participate in National Book Festival events scheduled for the Library of Congress and the Capitol grounds. But as for your breakfast, may I convey my regrets and best wishes to you and your guests.

/s/Jules Feiffer