Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 01/16/08

Artist's Statement

This cartoon goes out to my dear friend and colleague Megan out in Seattle. For some reason the title is spoken in her voice in my head. Megan was my constant companion and comrade-at-arms throughout all the Quixotic protests and marches and rallies before the invasion of Iraq, and we went door-to-door together in Philadelphia before the 2004 election. We often spoke of George with a certain fond, exasperated familiarity, like a very difficult friend. Back then he seemed like that kid in The Twilight Zone who ruled his whole town because he could turn anyone who questioned or contradicted him into a human jack-in-the-box--a surly, petulant child despot, omnipotent and invincible. These days the kind of belligerent reverence he inspired in his supporters has guttered out into embarrassment and contempt, to the point where even the tabloids have turned on him, printing stories about his relapses into drinking and his imminent divorce with Laura. It’s almost as hard now to remember that he’s still the President as it was to believe he was the President in that interlude between his inauguration and 9/11, when he was still just a bad joke. (See the Onion article “Bush Actually President, Nation Suddenly Realizes,” for a time capsule of that comparative idyll.)

Except every once in a while you hear something that reminds you he’s still in there, and he doesn’t know he’s not relevant anymore. Like his line about the possibility of securing a Middle Eastern peace treaty by the end of the year: “Actually I am on a timetable. I’ve got twelve months.” This was a joke, it’s only fair to clarify, and yet on another level George really does seem to hope to be able to claim credit for some sort of deal by next January. He’s loath to admit to caring about such things, but he must want to secure some sort of legacy for himself beyond the heap of corpses in Iraq. Hoping that peace in the Middle East will happen inside a year for his own personal benefit is vintage George--it’s like he just tuned into this whole Middle East thing and wonders what’s the big holdup, can’t they move things along any faster? This is the George we’ve come to know so well in the last seven years. You tell yourself you can’t possibly be shocked by his ignorance and provincialism and presumption anymore, and yet the guy still manages to leave you speechless one more time. He is a genius of idiocy.

More ominously, there’s his recent speech at the stupefyingly tacky Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi, asserting that Iran is a grave threat to world peace and urging all our dear friends in the Middle East to stand united to oppose them. Do not make the mistake of imagining that there are certain things George coul not or would not dare to do anymore now that he’s lost all credibility and squandered his political capital. This administration has never operated according to the customary rules of governance. They’ve always behaved more like a military junta or an imperial regime than a presidential administration, doing whatever the fuck they wanted, figuring: who was going to stop them? Their political philosophy predates not only the Constitution but the Magna Charta--it’s the Divine Right of Kings. If they want to attack Iran---and they do--I assure you they will. I am aware that it would be politically suicidal, logistically impossible, and may well result in the final collapse of the United States as a world power. They will do it anyway. Just because it’s unimaginable does not mean it will not happen. In the current issue of Rolling Stone Cormac McCarthy, who is a fellow at a multidisciplinary think tank that addresses long-term human problems (this is a real think tank, not one of the propaganda mills conservatives fund), is quoted as saying that if you’d been able to tell a group of intelligent people in the year 1900 what the twentieth century would hold, their response would’ve been: “You’ve got to be shitting me.”

My advice is, Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

Thanks to colleague Tom Hart for clueing me in to Project Disclosure. I don’t want to ruin this for you so I’ll just tell you to go ahead and google it for yourself.


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