Tuesday, May 8, 2012

This Is the Truth If I Say So

Back when I was in my twenties and living in New York, I remember an art event that briefly shook up the art world. Robert Rauschenberg responded to a request by a French art dealer for a new work by him that she could include in a group exhibition in Paris by sending her a telegram, which said "This is an art work if I say so." The telegram was duly framed and hung on the wall with the rest of the art.

I doubt Mitt Romney has ever heard of Rauschenberg's subversive gesture--implying that anything can be art if the artist says it is. Nevertheless, Romnney seems to be playing the same game politically, each time he acts as though anything can be the truth--all he has to do is say so. For instance, he never mentions Obama's name without attaching the epithet of "failed president' to it. Romney seems to believe that if only he can say the word "failure" often enough in relation to Obama, it will become so. in the selfsame vein, John Boehner has declared that "Nobody wants to vote for a failure." Breaking news to Boehner and his ilk: failures don't edit the Harvard Law Review and go on to become President of the United States. Didn't your mommies ever tell you that? As for me, shut the front door: I plan to vote for the "failure."

It may well be that you can transform something that is not art into art--as Duchamp famously did when he signed a urinal "R. Mutt" and then exhibited it in an art exhibition--but you can't transform a lie by merely declaring it to be the truth. "A lie is a lie is a lie," as Gertrude Stein once nearly said, but didn't quite. In today's political situation, Democrats are upset that Romney tells lies about the President, and Republicans are upset that the President tells the truth about Romney. Speaking in December on MSNBC, Rudy Giuliani called Romney "a man without a core," "a man without substance," and "a man that will say anything to become president of the United States." And during the recent Republican primaries, Newt Gingrich, went straight for the jugular. Asked by an interviewer if Romney was a liar, he answered "Yes." Does it matter that both of these men have gone on to endorse Romney?

In doing so, they have also endorsed the Ryan budget, which would give $3 trillion in tax cuts to billionaires and pay for it by radically cutting Medicaid funding over the next ten years, thus depriving (according to an Urban Institute study) 27 million poor, disabled, and elderly Americans of their healthcare benefits over the next decade. It seems not to matter to Republicans that, in polling, a clear majority of Americans support the Buffett Rule that proposes raising taxes on the rich to help ease the economy out of the doldrums. Warren Buffett may be unhappy at paying less tax than his secretary, but Senate Republicans filibustered the bill, blocking debate and preventing a simple "up or down" vote. Hooray! a win for the creeps.

In addition to supporting the Ryan budget, Romney has also signaled his willingness to go to war with Iran, to eliminate public financing for Planned Parenthood and public broadcasting, to overturn Roe v. Wade, and to ban gay marriage with a constitutional amendment. He has also stated that he "favors" justices like Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas for the Supreme Court and that he finds the appointment to the Court of the first Hispanic, Sonia Sotomayer, "troubling."

But don't take my word for it, because here comes my trusty, crusty alligator-muse, Virgil, who has had a crush on that feather-boa queen of American literature, Gertrude Stein, ever since forever. "In fact," he says, "we had tea together just the other day in one of the halo'ed places I occasionally frequent. Gertrude confided to me that she has never really cared for Mitt Romney, even when they used to run into each other on the Cayman Islands. She thinks the way Republicans say no to everything, even to the color of the sky, is pretty disgusting. And since somebody needs to prick their unholy self-importance, she asked that, now and forever, let it be her. Gertrude said that in better times it may have been true that 'a rose is a rose is a rose,' but in the case of unsavory Mitt, we need a new adage, and this is it: 'a douchebag is a douchebag is a douchebag.' "

Any smarty who is worth his salt would tell you the same.
P.S. Sorry folks, no illustration. My computer is acting strange, so it's justtext until I can get it sorted out.

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