Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 03/11/09


Note: There’s a brief interview with me at the Cartoonist’s League of Absurd Washingtonians (C.L.A.W.) website, if that’s anyone’s idea of a good way to spend your time.


Artist's Statement

Apparently Rush Limbaugh slew the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference with jokes I remember my father telling when I was a kid, except with himself inserted as the punchline (a joke, in this context, ostensibly self-deprecating but in fact self-adulatory), and one-liners (well, fumbling two and a half-liners) like "I don't know why people are afraid of liberals. People are always afraid of liberals... but why be afraid of the deranged?" Michael Steele later insulted Limbaugh by referring to him as an “entertainer,” but this is hardly fair; he’s not entertaining. This sort of thing doesn't really qualify as humor--it's just an allusion to a common set of assumptions (liberals are scary, liberals are crazy). You could substitute any other group-name and it would be funny to anyone who reviles that group—conservatives, the Quebecois, Presbyterians.

Offering himself up as an alternative visionary for the moribund party is Clinton-era villain Newt Gingrich, who was famous for re-introducing the concept of public orphanages and poorhouses back into the national discourse. Gingrich appeared on the cover of the New York Times Magazine two weekends ago, lit much like Baltar from the old Battlestar Galatica show, and when I was visiting my friends Jim and Sarah we had to turn the magazine face-down so it would not blight our Sunday morning brunch. Gingrich likes to think of himself as an intellectual, a thinker, conservatism's big idea man, although so far his main contributions to the ongoing discourse of Western civilization appear to be similar to those advocated on ballcaps sold in truck stops: "God, Guns & Guts Made America Great (Let's Keep All Three)".

Rush really did define conservatives by saying that “we love people,” and Gingrich did in fact bemoan the Republican's lack of nastiness around the same time they attempted to tear down the Clinton Presidency over fellatio. These quotes reminde me of an online post I once read by cartoonist Darryl Cagle in which he attempted to articulate the crucial difference between liberals and conservatives by explaining that “conservatives trust people.” I couldn’t imagine who he thought he was talking about. The same people who want to outlaw abortion, who support illegal wiretapping and torture? The conservatism he admired existed solely in his own head, and bore no resemblance to the kind from the real world. Who knows?--maybe Rush Limbaugh’s heart really is full of love, maybe he is a big harmless fuzzball, as he described himself in a recent interview, despite having constructed a public persona and built a media empire founded on hate. (I myself am a nicer person that one might suppose from reading my online screeds.) But these statements illuminate an almost grotesque disconnect between these conservatives’ self-image and conservatives’ actual agenda, one it’s hard to attribute to anything but denial and projection.

It's a losing game trying to parody conservatives. While researching this cartoon I came across a column on arguing that poor, unjustly maligned Mr. Potter has been proven right after all, and that it was that fiscally reckless sentimentalist George Bailey who was the real villain of It's a Wonderful Life--a reiteration of the plutocratic talking point that the recent housing crisis and collapse of the economy should be blamed on irresponsible poor (minority) home buyers instead of on the deregulation and total lack of oversight of the credit default swap market.

Frankly I am very pleased to see Limbaugh and Gingrich and the rest of these irrepressibly loathsome characters try to appoint themselves the new Voices of the Republican Party. The more the Republicans are viewed as the party of fat, balding, aggrieved and rancorous old white men, the more inevitably they are doomed to marginality and senescence. So bring on Rush and Newt and the rest of the bottom-of-the-barrel crew of hilariously cruel, blustering Dickensian villains. As the last eight years have demonstrated (alas, to all our detriment), the best way to ensure conservatives’ destruction is to allow them to say clearly and unambiguously what they believe and enact those ideas.

Of course the Republican Party will be resurgent sooner than anyone would like to think. Like herpes, conservatism lies dormant in the nervous system of the republic, waiting for our resistance to weaken, when it will erupt hideously anew. And when that day comes I’ll draw more cartoons about it. But hopefully this is just a brief dip back into politics for now, a fondly contemptuous look back. For the most part I’ve stopped paying attention, and shifted my focus instead to lurid and sensational stories like the chimp attack, with which I remain unwholesomely fascinated. (Please do not forward me any material about this story—it is not good for me.) Recently I found myself on a right-wing blog*--the kind where it is a foregone conclusion, no longer worth debating, that Obama is a closet Marxist--and it made me feel almost physically contaminated, not so much by their particular brand of delusional ideology, (distasteful as it is), as by the whole armchair ideologue's attitude--the hysterical, spittle-flecked rhetoric, the grimly complancent assurance of apocalypse just around the corner, the uninformed dingbat certitude of it all. Enough. I don't want to know about those people anymore, and I definitely don't want to be one of them.

Next week, back to the things that truly matter: a bathroom tile miraculously imprinted with the image of my own face, in my cartoon style, has appeared in a shower stall in Seattle.


*I was doing a google image search for the adult Kim Richards, formerly child co-star of Escape From Witch Mountain, on whom I had sort of a protosexual crush when I was eight, if you must know. I am way less embarrassed to admit this than I would be to having purposely sought out a right-wing blog. Although I didn’t agree with anything said on that website I did appreciate their posting a signed poster of the grownup Kim wearing a white one-piece. This is one of those issues on which we can put petty partisan differences aside and truly come together as Americans.


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