Mar 7, 2014
Posted on Feb 17, 2012
By Mr. Fish
There it sits on the calendar, Election Day, like a megaton turd of brain-draining Kryptonite, its intellectually deleterious effects emanating out from the Tuesday after the first Monday of November like moron radiation from a black hole of empty pomp and circumscription so devoid of meaning that not even irony can escape it. And there I sit, unable to set pen to paper for editorial cartooning because the political discourse has become so insular and platitudinous that satire can appear only derivative of the reality it’s attempting to exaggerate.
What kind of joke, after all, can one write when it is literally true that the only thing preventing the end of the world from happening is the fact that retailers haven’t yet figured out how to sell the DOOMSDAY—Everything Must Go Sale! to advertisers? Worse than granting the right of personhood to corporations, of course, is the omission of the addendum requiring that a conscience also be included, which makes me wonder whether the word person should be removed from the legislative language and replaced with the far more accurate descriptor remote-controlled gargantuan zombie with no soul.
“Drill everywhere. There is no such thing as global warming,” says candidate Rick Santorum to the sort of unbridled applause that one might otherwise expect in the face of reason. And look, there’s Michele Bachmann commenting on gay marriage by saying, “They can get married. They can marry a man if they’re a woman. Or they can marry a woman if they’re a man.” Remarkably, she is not hit in the head with a shoe. Herman Cain is there too, squaring his jaw and explaining what it means to be a man. “The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is. A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza,” he says. His approval rating soars.
Mitt Romney, speaking from beneath a hairdo assembled at the Fortress of Sophistry by GM robots: “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” Newt Gingrich, speaking ominously while the Winning Our Future super PAC flicks the light switch on and off and makes lightening and thunder sounds with its mouth: “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”
Is there no more convincing proof that there is nothing like a presidential campaign to demonstrate just how profoundly detached we are as a nation from recognizing why ours is a functioning democracy in reputation alone? It happens every four years. Candidates emerge from the self-glorifying sanctimoniousness of their own private fortunes to thump their coffers and bestow the folksy wisdom of hillbillies baffled by science, contemptuous of foreigners, humbled by the hard-won saintliness of rich folk, nauseated by feminists and homosexuals, googly-eyed over the muscular Christianity of Uncle Sam and 100 percent sure that capitalism is the same goddamn thing as democracy, by golly, and worth exporting to the rest of the world as if it were a putrid and oftentimes lethal penicillin.
At least that’s on the GOP side. For the liberals it’s usually less Nugent-centric and slightly more Utne-ish and urbane. Democratic candidates typically emerge from the self-glorifying sanctimoniousness of their own private fortunes to thump their coffers and bestow the folksy wisdom of untenured community college English professors baffled by behavior unbefitting of crossword puzzles, saddle shoes, decaf coffee and the sanctity of the dean’s mediocre golf game, all the while googly-eyed over the muscular Christianity of Uncle Sam and 100 percent sure that capitalism is the same goddamn thing as democracy, by golly, and worth exporting to the rest of the world as if it were a putrid and oftentimes lethal penicillin.
It even happened with Obama, who was introduced to the nation in 2004 as the soigné and sophisticated Sidney Poitier alternative to the Texas-tea version of the white Washington establishment, but who, by Inauguration Day in 2009, had morphed into the Walter-Mondale-as-portrayed-by-Sidney-Poitier-type character we’ve all learned to tolerate in anticipation of something that our system of government simply seems too morally and ethically timid to be able to deliver. Interestingly, I recently stumbled upon a notebook containing the transcript to an unpublished conversation that I had during the 2008 campaign with Joan Baez about whether the world might change for the better as a result of the recent election. Rereading it, I could almost hear the clicketyclack of the roller coaster car as it climbed toward the limitless sky just before running out of tracks in ascension.
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