Reporters on the Job

Not Quite David Letterman: While reporting today's story about teaching Iraqi children about democracy, staff writer Howard LaFranchi saw campaign posters plastered everywhere. And Baghdad's political humorists saw a new canvas for their commentaries.

In one poster, a former defense minister in Iraq's first transitional government - someone who allegedly had more than $1 billion "disappear" from his ministry during his tenure - appears smiling widely above the handwritten graffiti: "Yes, vote for the looters!"

Another wit added his views to a poster showing Baathist candidates who claim to have changed their stripes: "Don't forget who stole the food of the people."

Elsewhere in the city Howard spotted a cutout figure that was half Saddam Hussein and half former prime minister Iyad Allawi - a former Baathist who renounced the party under Saddam and fled into exile. That one said: "Who does this picture remind you of?"

One Iraqi told Howard that Iraqi newspapers carry no political cartoons, so the posters provide an outlet for Iraqis to laugh. "The newspapers are reluctant to print cartoons," he said, "because our political parties often express themselves with guns. If you poke fun at someone, you might get killed."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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