For several weeks we've been in this weird summer
lull where there's been no real news whatsoever. The New York Times
has been running borderline-tabloid stories about the trivial and the grotesque:
a feature on "Meth Mouth," a really unphotogenic syndrome afflicting
habitual users of crystal methamphetamine, a human interest fluff piece about
an aspiring actress playing Curious George at a book fair whose fake head
deflated, even an article about a bag of garbage on the Upper East Side that
smelled really bad. The revelation about Deep Throat was the first item of
news that's really cheered me since Reagan died. It reminded me a little of
the day they found what might've been a fossil in that Martian meteorite;
everyone seemed kind of giddy and elated over a breaking news story that didn't
involve anyone dying. I was personally a little disappointed since all these
years I'd had my money on Al Haig.
But then on Wednesday night I was driving and listening to the radio and I noticed an extraordinary thing: all the news stories were oddly cheering. George Bush's poll numbers were falling; a majority of Americans felt the war in Iaq wasn't worth it; hilip Cooney, the White House official who edited those government reports on climate change to downplay the potential effects of global warming had resigned and conspicuously gone to work for Exxon; the military was telling anyone who'd listen that they would never defeat the insurgency in Iraq; Edgar Ray Killeen was finally going on trial for the murder of three civil rights workers in the Sixties; the Downing Street memo was belatedly getting mentioned in the U.S. press; some Republicans were calling for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay "facility"; Congress defied the Bush administration and the Justice Department by refusing to renew the John-Aschcroft-can-look-at-your-library-records provision of the Patriot Act; and even USA Today announced that the debate on global warming was officially over. Is it possible that things are finally turning to shit for the Bush administration? My friend Megan believes things will just gradually fizzle for them until they gutter out in lame-duck irrelevance, but I am still hoping for a Nixonian day of reckoning, public humiliation and disgrace, Geroge W. Bush weeping on TV. But then, I am a notorious optimist.
Notes on individual panels:
Panel 1: That's an unkind caricature of Senator Mel Martinez, the first Republican to point out that Guantanamo Bay was providing fodder for anti-American propaganda abroad. In truth all the images I found of him made him look kind of goofy and good-natured, and I do respect his standing up to the Bush administration, but it's worth noting that his main objection wasn't that it was evil or un-American but that it was making us look bad. Plus I figured, okay, maybe he's not bad for a Republican, but he's still a Republican: fuck him. No prisoners.
Panel 2: That's Edgar Ray Killen, former Klansman, currently on trial for the murder of three civil rights workers, about which he's been gloating for forty years. His is one of those faces, like George Bush's, Dick Cheney's or John Ashcroft's, which no caricature I could draw, however monstrous, could possibly capture, let alone exaggerate. The evil carved into his features by eighty years of arrogance, cruelty, and hate have turned him into a villain out of Dick Tracy, a withered, senile reptile, a vicious, toothless old thing best dragged out back and crushed with a brick. He really did protest that he had a lot of black friends. I have no doubt he is beloved in his local African-American comunity. Perhaps some of them will come forward as character witnesses.
Panel 3: I very much enjoyed drawing the fat head, tiny face, shifty eyes and and sweaty lip of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who may be the least convincing liar I have ever seen on TV--assuring us that the abrupt departure of Philip Cooney from the Council on Environmental Quality had nothing to do with the revelation, a week earlier, that he had censored scientific information in government documents, or dismissing the Downing Street memo as just another re-hash of a debate already settled. I love his line, "The President has moved on," which he deploys any time the press asks about some error, crime, or atrocity the President committed or authorized even a few days earlier. "The President is not dwelling on the past. The President is looking to the future." I have to remember to ue this line if 'm ever arrested for murder. "Hey, I've moved on." The mental image is supposed to be of the President serene, above it all, preoccupied with important matters of state and not those silly irrelevant incriminating documents or civilian casualties you all are so fixated on. The President is all like, "That is so last week." Scott McClellan! That pudgy little bland-faced hack. Unbelievable that the human soul can withstand a job lying on national television every day for years. It's a curious but reassuring fact that lying is inherently stressful for the human body. We can only hope Scott McClellan suffers from ulcers or piles or psoriasis as a result of his quotidian lies. I imagine that after White House Press Secretaries resign they have to spend time in the Ron Ziegler Center to break down, confess their whole years-long litany of lies, and be ritually flagellated (that's flagellated, as in whipped) by interns in an attempt to expiate their venal sins.
Yes those are neat little swastika pins McClellan and Martinez are wearing. Join the party, wear the pin.
Panel 4: I categorically deny ever checking out the audiotape of the novelization of the graphic novel Kingdom Come. I demand legal counsel. John Patton? Contact me ASAP.