Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 09/03/08


Artist's Statement

I was back at my Undisclosed Location all last week, happily deaf to the incessant twittering of the media. I’ve returned to The Turret in New York to learn that I didn’t miss much. The Republicans have made history by nominating a woman to the powerless symbolic position of the vice-presidency only a quarter-century after Democrats did the same thing. Perhaps in 2032 they’ll nominate a black man, too, and who knows?—maybe by the year 3000 they’ll support civil unions for homosexuals. A hurricane has not struck New Orleans. And O dear Lord, a teenager is pregnant, sweet Jesus, let’s all drop everything and pretend to have strong opinions about this until something else happens. It’s enough to make you long for another terrorist attack.

The turtle has not been returned. They will rue the day.

In the middle of my pleasant media blackout I actually went out to my local Cecil County bar to watch Obama’s inauguration speech on television. I don’t own a television and so do not participate in any mass spectatorial experiences, which perhaps helps to account for my idiosyncratic view of world events. (Reading and listening are a lot more conducive to emotional detachment and active critical engagement than watching.) The last major real-life event I saw on television was the collapse of the World Trade Centers on 9/11, which rendered me temporarily insane. But I felt that the nomination of our nation’s first black Presidential candidate by a major party was worth watching on live TV. But all seventeen of the bar’s TVs were showing football. So I walked out and bought a moosetracks-flavored ice cream cone at a little summer ice cream stand instead, and then went home and listened to the speech on the radio.

It’s been a tempestuous relationship with Obama--lot of ups and downs. I’ve written in previous artist’s statements about my colleague Sarah’s infatuation with Obama and my wistful jealousy of her genuine, uncynical enthusiasm for a political candidate. I was literally just about to send his campaign a check the day before the FISA vote---I had even addressed the envelope--and then suddenly I was like: wait, who is this guy again? Matt Taibbi’s depressingly well-researched essay on the Obama’s campaign donors dampened my initial infatuation further, like learning that your excellent new girlfriend is heavily into Ayn Rand or is also seeing that asshole Marc who works down in marketing. The sorts of sententious dullards who manufacture conventional wisdom on op-ed pages like to affect a condescending bemusement that Obama’s naïve young supporters are surprised that he turns out to be just another politician--as though maturer, more worldly types are comfortably used to being lied to and spied on by the government and to no one being held accountable for any of it ever. I myself would argue, rather, Fuck that. So I didn’t send my check and for a while Barack and were on the outs. It was sad. I still saw his name and his face on T-shirts on the street and I felt like I was no longer a part of it.

Then my friend Boyd, who also likes to let me know important plot points of movies I haven’t yet seen, informed me that McCain was even with Obama in polls, and that some even showed him slightly ahead. It beggared my imagination that anybody other than his immediate family or the mentally retarded would vote for George Bush in 2004; that anyone would vote Republican now, after the last eight years, leaves me, for once, so boggled as to find myself without comment. The stupidity of the American voter is without limit; it is like perpetual motion, like faster-than-light drive, freakish, impossible, an affront to the laws of nature. Half the people in this country apparently feel they haven’t been fucked over quite enough yet. They are still optimistic that things could be worse. But this seems like it might serve as the text for next week’s cartoon, so I should probably quit while I’m ahead.

Anyway, the nomination speech reminded me why I got on board the Obama bandwagon in the first place. Also persuasive--especially to repentant 2000 Nader voters like myself--was Al Gore's stern "I told you so" speech, pointing out that the last eight years would've been very different if he had been president. John McCain is a likeable guy in many ways, but I still can't think of a single issue I agree with him on. He may not be anywhere near as wilfully stupid and mean-spirited as George Bush, but he's still a Republican, and, as Anne LaMott once wrote about the nicest two-year-old she knew, "it's sort of like being the nicest Nazi--he's still a Nazi." So okay: I will glumly send the check. And I will urge all of you reading this not to let well-deserved cynicism serve as an excuse to sit this one out. I'll tell you right now I'm not drawing another four years of political cartoons. Life is too short.

Thanks to Ellen, Berkeley, Boyd, and Dave, for their ideas and to everyone else who politely tolerated my working on this cartoon in the Adirondack chair at my cabin this weekend instead of being an attentive host. And thanks to Webmaster Dave for the mint juleps.

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