Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 04/26/06

Artist's Statement

An unusual six-panel extravaganza this week. This proved to be an especially fecund premise; I could’ve drawn an infinite number of panels on this theme. I have learned so much about the arts of callous, brazen deception from this administration. There were so many ideas I had to discard. The one panel I still wish I’d had room and time to include is: "WHEN YOUR FRIENDS FUCK UP, REWARD THEM LAVISHLY." This referring to a particularly ballsy and infuriating move of Bush’s; whenever one of his cronies comes under fire for exceptionally appalling incompetence or criminality, he routinely promotes them or gives them a medal, as a defiant fuck-you to public opinion. It epitomizes his attitude of blithely flouting the ethics and consequences that apply to everybody else in the world. The drawing would’ve shown my beloved cat sulking after having clawed out someone’s eyeball and me coddling her, saying, "Are you an unhappy cat? Bist du eine unhäpische këtzle? I want you to be happy. That is what we all want, is a happy, happy cat. Who would like some catnip? Would you?", even as her victim clasps a hand in shock over the bleeding socket.

That’s my friend Carolyn in panel #1, cast in this role because of all my female friends she is perhaps the one who would least welcome pregnancy. I had to ask her and her husband whether they’d object to my drawing her as having been knocked up by me, and I hereby thank them for their gracious permission. Thanks, too, to my friend Isabelle who, when I described panel #4 to her, asked me, "What will Boyd be dressed as?" Until then it hadn’t occurred to me that Boyd would be in costume at all; in my original drawing he was still wearing his same old stained T-shirt. But as soon as she posed the question, the obvious and inevitable answer, the only answer possible, immediately presented itself. Early this morning I woke up and thought, "Time to draw Boyd as an Ewok." Another day, another dollar.

On the subject of the "meaningless re-shuffling of associates," let us take this opportunity to bid a contemptuous but nonetheless grudgingly fond farewell to Scott McClellan, by general consensus the worst liar ever to appear on national television. He reminded one of a child smeared with chocolate adamantly insisting that he does not know who ate the mousse but it wasn’t him, or a murder suspect soaked in blood doggedly insisting that the true culprit was "some other dude." His standard rhetorical tactic was to obstinately recite his single scripted line—"we cannot comment on an ongoing legal case," for example—over and over, robotically, maddeningly, in response to increasingly specific and pointed variations on some perfectly straightforward question. It was sadistic good fun watching him straining to draw a fine and convoluted distinction between the treasonous crimes of the administration’s critics and the President’s identical but necessary and virtuous actions. And his face---that tiny, clammy face peering nervously out, as if trapped, from the center of a broad, doughy bowlful of head. Not to mention the soft, plump little white hands held up as if to tamp down and placate the constant barrage of incredulous and outraged demands for a single straight answer. He was a pathetic toady, a dim, bumbling stooge who couldn’t handle the one simple job he’d been given of stonewalling the press while the administration did whatever the fuck it wanted. If he’d been a front man for the Mafia instead of the White House they’d’ve put two bullets in the back of his head and dumped his body in Jersey. Instead he undoubtably goes off to become a well-paid flak for some corporation, to ineptly deny less glamorous crimes. We will not see his like again.

Last night, after I finished this cartoon, I went out to have a self-congratulatory cocktail and met someone who told me an extraordinary story. (Since I am not a journalist but a cartoonist, I feel no obligation to attribute or confirm this story. I’m just telling you what somebody told me in a bar, which is one of the few places on Earth where the truth is ever uttered.) The story concerns Karen Hughes, counsel to the President and one of that celibate harem of brittle, fawning women with whom George Bush creepily likes to surround himself. Hughes invited the head of a well-known P.R. firm to Texas to advise her on the administration’s P.R. problem. For a long time they didn’t acknowledge that they even had one, she admitted, but now they do, and they need to know how to fix it. The head of this firm warned Hughes that if she was really asking, he was going to tell her the truth, not what she wanted to hear. She said that was exactly why she had come to him; they’d been hearing what they wanted to hear for too long. Well, first of all, he told her, you don’t have a P.R. problem; you don’t even have a P.R. department. What you have is an attitude problem. You’re arrogant, and you don’t listen. Also, you should’ve changed the White House staff in your second administration. It would have been a perfectly acceptable time to fire a bunch of people and bring in new blood. And the first person you should’ve fired, he said, is Dick Cheney. Hughes agreed with all of this. She knew it; everybody knew it. But she was afraid to tell it to the President. Everyone around him was afraid to tell him anything he didn’t want to hear. She told an incredible story: George’s own father, Former President George H.W. Bush, had called him around Thanksgiving to tell him that Dick Cheney was horrible, he should be fired immediately, and George Bush hung up on him.

This person told me that this P.R. man also incidentally confirmed what I have heard elsewhere: that all George Bush ever really wanted was to be baseball commissioner. Hitler wanted to go to art school. If we have learned nothing else from World War II and the Holocaust, we have learned this much: let everybody into art school who wants to go. Why didn’t they just let Bush be baseball commissioner? He would’ve been a disaster, of course, just as he was a disaster as a baseball team owner and an oil company executive before that. The man’s a chronic failure. He can’t do anything well. But so what? Destroying major league baseball would’ve been relatively harmless. Nobody would’ve died. Maybe we could still offer him the position in exchange for resigning the presidency. Shit, I’d be happier with George Steinbrenner as President of the United States than George Bush.


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