Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It
As promised. I should hope the reference to Not Me, Bill Keane’s invisible imp of household mischief, requires no explanation to my readers. (Actually George Bush could really use Not Me around the White House these days: "Who’s idea was this war, anyway?" "Who said you could torture those prisoners?" "All right--who tapped these phones?" "Who ran up this deficit?" NOT ME!) Thanks to my racquetball partner Jesse for suggesting the in-retrospect-obvious girls’ locker room. "After all," as Jesse said, "Saddam is a man of the people."
I was just reviewing my cartoons for 2006 because it is once again time to send submissions to the Pulitzer Prize board, which I do every year out of a SETI-like futile hope. Looking over the whole last year’s worth of cartoons all at once, I feel that there’s been an overall falling-off in quality since the year before. This year I had to struggle to come up with fifteen submissions (including the five-part series "Contributions of the World’s Religions"), whereas usually I have no trouble picking twenty. Also, I feel like the best cartoons were concentrated in the first half of the year, back before my summer hiatus. Partly I attribute this to my own declining interest in cartooning due to the lack of positive reinforcement that all cartoonists must endure, and partly to the burnout currently afflicting anybody who’s followed politics with passionate interest, professional or otherwise, for the last six years. (Also, come to think of it, it was during my hiatus that I cut down on the drinking, and although I don’t miss drinking so much I do miss hanging out in bars with friends for hours and hours, which was always an invaluable source of inspiration.) But mostly, I think, it has to do with something else: as my colleague Tom Hart and I agreed at this week’s get-together at Burp Castle, we both feel like we’ve already drawn all the best cartoons there are to be drawn about the current political situation. He’d suggested I draw something about the proposed "surge" in troop level--a reinstatement of the draft, maybe the conscription of all the frat guys and Guidos we see drinking in Manhattan every Friday and Saturday night, and me cashing in on the sudden surplus of single women--but I pointed out that I’d already drawn this exact cartoon months ago in "My New Iraq Policy" (June 28th, 2006). My most concise and eloquent statement about Iraq was "The Iraq Monument," drawn back on February 2nd, 2005, which I feel ought to have won a Pulitzer but unfortunately appeared back when the mainstream press was still trying gamely to pretend that Iraq might’ve been a good idea and we might still win.
The political situation has remained stagnant for years now, leavened only by fresh absurdist atrocites like last week’s accidental decapitation. Can you believe this shit has gone on for three years now? America’s involvement in World War II only lasted four years, and every day the papers were screaming with news: Patton’s tanks race across Africa! We’ve crossed the Rhine! Unfortunately this country’s solution to every international problem is to try to win World War II again, which really only works once. Now we’re already occupying Berlin and Hitler’s dead, but for some reason we still haven’t won. This war just drags on and on without advances and without goals, each day’s headline only another depressing new confirmation that, yes, it’s a failure, a catastrophe, an irredeemable historic clusterfuck. (This morning’s: "Double Bomb Kills Scores in Baghdad.") And it doesn’t look like things are going to get better anytime soon. George Bush has unveiled his secret master plan for victory in Iraq: (Slightly) More of the Same. The Democrats, finally in a position to exert some control, are boldly drafting a Symbolic Nonbinding Resolution! That’ll show ‘em. We might as well have thrown out the Republicans and elected Sea Monkeys in their place. It’s clear that nothing is going to change until 2008, when we forcibly drag the imbecile boy-king out of the White House and send him home to cut brush for the rest of his stunted life. If George Bush had been a Roman emperor he would’ve been put to the death of the Little Cuts a year or two ago. Unfortunately we are a civilized nation, so we have to let him condemn another thousand or so of our soldiers to pointless deaths before he can be driven into exile in the most desolate and backward of our conquered barbarian lands, Texas. (Though I guess if he tries to drag us all into another war in Iran, as certainly seems to be his wish, I would not be shocked if a Troubled Loner with no proven ties whatsoever to the military or intelligence community got off a lucky shot.) Once the Democrats take the White House, though, then we’ll see some changes. Yeah! Just like when Nixon took over from LBJ and got us out of Vietnam, just as promised, only seven years after he took office.
Jesus, I’m sorry, everybody. Things are probably bleak enough without me being such a bringdown. I’m coming off a long weekend of painkillers with Jim in Newark, Delaware, and withdrawal from opiates always makes you a little surly. Let’s look up from our artist’s statement and around this Lower East Side coffee shop on a chilly gray Monday morning and try to think of things to be happy about. I’ll tell you one thing: a girl’s body never looks so beautiful as when she’s sitting on a backless stool, her bottom thrust out, her back arched forward, shirt riding up to expose the indrawn curve of her spine and, if you’re very lucky, those gorgeous sacral dimples.