Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Postscript to last week’s artist’s statement:
I received this cheering em-ail from my friend Jim:
I’ve proposed to Jim that he join me at a conference on Peak Oil here in New York City on April 29th. I intend to write an essay with accompanying illustrations about this event, and if Jim comes along it’ll pretty much write itself. While I was on the phone with him pitching this trip he delivered the following tirade: “It’s like a few years ago, environmentalists were all worried about the birds, like, ‘oh, we have to protect their migration patterns.’ Now look what we got coming: the bird flu. If we’d just let those migration patterns go to hell we wouldn’t be worrying about the bird flu now.” In the background I heard Sarah, Jim’s wife, say: “You’re killing me.”
This week the President was directly linked to the leaking of pre-war intelligence, Tom Delay resigned, and a new gospel, the Gospel of Judas, was revealed. Additionally, three of my friends gave me good cartoon ideas (including one about a naturist retreat for people of faith called a “Judist Colony”). Instead, in willful obliviousness to all current events and good advice, I drew this. It’s something that just sort of happened while I was procrastinating getting to work on a much more ambitious cartoon, a multi-part series I may commence next week instead. I showed it to some friends and their reaction was so unexpectedly intense (not unlike the inexplicably enthusiastic reception of W_______s) that I decided to go ahead and run it. “I can’t handle it,” pleaded Megan, “I can’t handle it. I doon’t want any other cartoons but Li’l Nixon.” Her husband Mike says, “The socks just kill me.” It was Mike who had suggested the name “Li’l Nixon,” after which the cartoon effortlessly appeared.
Well sure, I guess it’s gratifying to finally see what we’ve known all along was obviously true actually verified—that, der, Bush and Cheney authorized the leaking of classified data--but it’s also so excruciatingly belated that it’s more exasperating than anything else. It’s like being the only smart kid in class and sitting there with your head on your desk drooling with boredom for seven months while the rest of the class agonizes over the whole mind-blowing concept of fractions, until one day the light bulbs start to go on, one by one, they start to get it, and you scream, “DER, you fucking morons!” I say this as someone who never succeeded in memorizing the times tables or learned long division. I am aware that sometimes an unattractively elitist and intolerant tone creeps into my writing but it’s hard to be endlessly patient with my fellow Americans’ often literally unbelievable stupidity. So if we’re all finally on the same page now—let’s all recite together: the war in Iraq was based on lies, the administration is torturing people, they’re spying on American citizens without warrants and jailing them without charges, they’ve defamed or gagged or fired or betrayed anyone who opposes or questions them--could we please just all proceed together to impeach the treasonous little shitbag, and then put him and his owners in jail?
Relatively new readers can be excused for assuming that this cartoon might be some sort of oblique commentary on George Bush as a more childish, inept, bumbling version of the corrupt and doomed Nixon. A fair enough interpretation, but that’s not why I drew it. Long-time readers of The Pain will have noticed that at the saddest, most stressful periods of my life I inevitably return to certain recurring motifs, the two great objects of my pity and love, former President Nixon and provisional planet Pluto.
In a former artist’s statement I mentioned my visit to The Hall of Presidents in Disneyworld. On display in the lobby was a collection of personal Presidential memorabilia, including an autobiography written by Richard Nixon when he was in the eighth grade. Nixon juvenilia kills me. The essay concluded, “I hope to study law and enter politics as an occupation, so that I might be of some good to the people.” No? That doesn’t break your heart? Not enough to forget the Christmas bombing? All right. Read this. Nixon wrote the following letter to his mother when he was ten years old. Read it and weep.
To what real-life incident this letter alludes to I have no idea. That Nixon would sign this letter as his mother’s “good dog” is more than I can take. It also sheds a terrible new light on the much-derided phrase, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore!”
Finally, in researching this cartoon, I came across this piece of information:
Weep for Li’l Nixon, my friends. O weep for him.
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