WASHINGTON — President Reagan, getting some comic relief from the Iran- contra scandal, praised the nation's editorial cartoonists today for preserving the "national sanity" but urged them to "take it easy on the old boy."
Standing before several dozen members of the American Assn. of Editorial Cartoonists gathered in the White House Rose Garden, Reagan turned the tables to give his unsolicited analysis of several outsize drawings of himself.
"Since you're so free at critiquing the job I'm doing, I thought it would only be fair," Reagan said. "You can dish it out, but can you take it?"
One poster had a full-length, frontal drawing of Reagan, quoting him as saying, "Let me clarify the last clarification of the previous clarification of the earlier clarification of the '85 tax issue."
'It Just Won't Take'
The cartoon--like most Reagan caricatures--exaggerated the wave in Reagan's hair. The President complained that "I've tried every way I can to make my hair stand up that way, but it just won't take."
Another cartoon had a grateful Reagan, pictured in a White House falling apart, welcoming new handyman Howard H. Baker Jr., his chief of staff.
"I look a little upset (in the drawing) because I just found out Howard doesn't do windows," Reagan observed.
Another drawing showed the President, in the role of "The Great Communicator," standing with a look of bewilderment under an empty cloud.
Reagan walked over to the poster with a felt pen and started to fill in the balloon-shaped spot for a presidential quote. He inscribed the word The, paused, turned around and said, "I forgot what I was going to write."