Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 11/26/08


Artist's Statement

A couple of ideas I didn’t get to use for this cartoon:

1.) a variation on the 9/11 Truther delusion in which they would conspire to a.) Nuke Manhattan and then b.) frame the Russians, thereby reigniting the Cold War (if you’ll permit the oxymoron. The Cold War is the main thing the Republicans still like to point to as their one great triump (along with finally kicking those freeloaders off welfare, which isn’t the sort of thing you can build good monuments to). Though it’s not as if Democrats ever argued for capitulation to the Soviets, if you think about it. In fact it was that big closet pinko Nixon who introduced detente and opened relations with the Maoist swine. So I’m not sure what the Republicans have to lay claim to there except that the Soviet empire happened to collapse on a Republican president’s watch.

2.) “Return to Their Roots.” The idea beiing that they should resurrect some anachronistic, 19th-century platform, like opposing the gold standard. I researched the origins of the Republican party and learned that they originally formed as an anti-slavery party, specifically opposing the spread of slavery into Kansas. But somehow, picturing a world in which slavery were to be a controversial issue again, I just can’t see the modern Republican Party taking the abolitionist position. They seem like they’d be more likely to stick up for property owners and states’ rights and decry government interference in business.

Even now the Republicans are regrouping, trying to figure out exactly where they went wrong, looking at new approaches and PR angles to rebrand themselves for 2012. Even the ones who are pretending to do some real soul-searching about the identity and raison d’etre of the party seem to be missing the point. I can’t help but wonder whether anyone has yet floated the suggestion that they just, like, quit. Maybe it’s time to admit that it wasn’t a bad candidate or an unfortunate economic crash or a change in demographics but the fact that all their ideas, the core values of conservatism, have turned out to be wrong. That the current confluence of crises, what some have called a “perfect storm”--is not some freak historical accident but the direct consequence of having implemented all their stated policies. Their antipathy toward government and deliberate campaign to enervate it led to the fiascoes of Katrina and the financial crisis. Their insistence on American exceptionalism and the use of force to further our interests abroad led to the disaster of Iraq. And if they’d gotten their way with the “ownership society” and privatized social security Americans would now be calculating how to live the last twenty years of their lives on a monthly budget of nothing. The fact is, they got to be in complete charge for eight years and do absolutely everything they wanted, and it was a catastrophe. They gutted the constitution, wrecked the military, looted the treasury, and left the country an irreperable mess. So maybe the most gracious possible response would be to shake hands all around, say, Okay, you know what, we fucked that up, sorry, seemed like a good idea at the time but guess not, and all go their separate ways to pursue careers in fields better suited to their talents than governance—stolid, respectable trades with little capacity for inflicting harm, like shoe store managers, window washers, pastry chefs. Just strike the Big Tent, pull up stakes, split the take and move on.

It should be admitted, in grudging fairness, that the cabal that’s been in for the last eight years bears roughly the same sort of resemblance to Barry-Goldwater conservatism as did the PTL Network to the twelve apostles, or Starship to The Jefferson Airplane. (These are, obviously, imperfect analogies--not even the Bakkers were as deluded and shameless as the Bush administration, and even Starship rocked harder than Karl Rove.) Their idea of limited government is spying on citizens without warrants and holding them in concentration camps for years without charges. Their fiscal conservatism gave us deficits that hit the gajillion mark for the first time in history and an economy that now resembles Max Ernst's painting Europe After the Rains. They really ought to count themselves lucky. Faust got his eyeballs pinned to the wall.

Already I can feel myself losing interest in politics. I was never really what you’d call a politics junkie, not in the same way that Hunter Thompson or Matt Taibbi seem to be. It’s just that for the last eight years the reins of power in this nation were in reckless and untrustworthy hands. We couldn’t afford not to pay attention. It’s like if you’re in the backseat of a car and the driver is blacked-out drunk, you sit forward gripping the front seat with your face sticking out between the two front seats shouting very strong suggestions and pleading with them to pull over. But if the driver’s sober, you can sit back, relax, stare out the window and let your mind wander, maybe have a little snooze. America still has all the same problems it had on November 3rd, and they’ll take time and work to solve, and I’ll do what little I can to help. But I’m not taking a daily interest in who Obama is appointing to cabinet posts, because I trust that, compromised old Washington hacks though they may be, they at least aren’t all campaign donors, lobbyists, Jesus freaks and old high school friends of Sarah Palin’s. I for one would be content, at this point, to see us return to the bloated, corrupt and inefficient country we once were.

Note: Mitt Romney is dressed after the sartorial manner of the character Rerun from What’s Happening?, the very lamest black character I could think of.



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