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It’s What Politicians Deserve

The American political landscape these days is a depressing wasteland of hot air, dirty money and self-serving behavior. At the start of another election year, going onto Facebook makes me physically ill. How many more months of this vituperative bile must I endure before these people are through campaigning? Only, they’re NEVER done campaigning. They spend more time every day raising money than running this country, and it shows in our deficit, our infrastructure, our weakened currency and our numerous crippled government programs. How can anyone pick a side when both parties are walking-talking puppets of whoever funds them?

Starting a new year off fuming about things I cannot change – that probably WILL NOT change – isn’t going to help me. I decided to take charge of how I view politicians instead.

Charleston, South Carolina is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It’s also the place I call home. One can find numerous stories chronicling South Carolina politics here or here or hereΒ or hereΒ or here. (Warning: Following any of the links in the previous sentence will cause loss of hours to laughter.)

I’m going back a little further for my stab at humor that may help me in the here-and-now.

1791.

Charleston.

President George Washington visited our bustling city, one of the pivotal ones in the infant United States of America. The City Fathers, consumed with the symbolism of the event (some things never change), hired an artist to paint a portrait of Washington, one that would showcase the grandeur of the man against the impressive backdrop of our city skyline. It would stare down from the wall of a designated municipal structure for all time, reminding visitors that our city was lofty enough for the first President to darken its doors and haunt its taverns.

John Trumbull won the commission. He would paint Washington as victorious Revolutionary War general on a canvas that would be larger than life. Trumbull created this painting of Washington looming victorious in front of the city of Trenton, New Jersey.

Art is perception. When the City Fathers saw their finished painting, they decided they didn’t like it. While it captured the likeness of the man, it failed to communicate the stature of Charleston. They refused to pay Trumbull the balance owed on the painting but still expected to receive a work of art for the money already expended from the city’s coffers.

Trumbull obliged. He sent the City of Charleston this painting. It now hangs in the Council Chambers of Charleston City Hall.

Even casual consumers of art notice the, um, unusual position of Washington’s horse, rendered ghostly in the background. The horse’s raised leg and backside hover directly over Charleston City Hall. Closer examination of the portrait shows a tiny boat floating in the triangle of water between the horse’s back legs, a boat filled with the City Fathers who stiffed Trumbull and dissed his vision. They sit frozen, prepared to receive a cascade of “campaign contributions.”

And, that’s exactly where I’m going to imagine every politician today. In that boat. Under that raised leg. Unable to flee from the discharge to come.

It makes me laugh every time.

84 Comments Post a comment
  1. I wonder if they realized they were the butt of that joke. And many still are…

    January 10, 2012
  2. Ah yes, our lovely and talented politicians…an embarrassment. Throw them all out every two years and start over with a new crop of rummies that won’t know enough to mess up too much before they hit the street. Limit terms to two and non-consecutive. Change Senators to three years and no repeat. Let them get their own health insurance instead of the Golden Parachute they have now.

    The horse has it right…

    January 10, 2012
    • The best I can do is refuse to vote for an incumbent. We can exercise term limits by voting them all out of office this year.

      January 10, 2012
    • Lou, I really like your ideas on term limits. Non-consecutive two terms is a fab idea. Consecutive just gives too much free reign.

      January 10, 2012
  3. mtm #

    The Accidental Cootchie Mama puts the Pee in Super PAC.

    January 10, 2012
  4. I’m dreading the onslaught of political ads in the next few weeks.Then, we’ll be forgotten for another four years.

    January 10, 2012
    • I get the heebie-jeebies every time I see one, which is rare for me, thank goodness.

      January 10, 2012
  5. alice #

    Thank you for a reason to smile this Tuesday! Think it would cause some trouble if I let Cayleigh read it for her leadership and life skills class – they are following the primaries.

    January 10, 2012
    • Oh, come on. This is a story that is right up a nine-year-old’s alley.

      January 10, 2012
  6. Our revolutionary generation did know how to sling it! This example is more subtle than most. Thank you for for brightening the start of my day.

    Now that NH is voting my condolences for what thou are about to receive in the way of radio, TV and yard signs over the next 10 days.

    (I do find it humorous that the other lads are going after Mitty for being a capitalist. I thought Republicans liked capitalism…)

    January 10, 2012
    • With no tv and no real listening to the radio, I hope to be spared most of it. The only place I really cannot escape it is Facebook. I have the usual set of friends like everyone else, and a subset of them love to post a constant stream of vitriol for one side or the other. They’re all indefensible at this point.

      January 10, 2012
      • I agree. It’s bad on both sides. I can hardly stand politics. That’s why I almost NEVER bring it up – just a waste of good oxygen! πŸ™‚

        January 10, 2012
      • When I bring it up (rare), I just complain about all of them.

        January 10, 2012
      • Oh, Andra, that wasn’t directed at you at all. You’ve done a fine job of bringing out this discussion. I was referring to the ads, or should I say ad nauseum.

        I love reading your blog, whatever the subject.

        January 10, 2012
      • That’s good for me, since I am too ADD to focus on one subject. πŸ™‚

        January 10, 2012
  7. Excellent!

    January 10, 2012
  8. Kameko #

    Now that is just the sort of thing I needed to read right before going to bed.

    Smiles are always welcome!

    January 10, 2012
    • Glad it made you smile, Kameko. We need something to smile about in this mess.

      January 10, 2012
  9. I remember going on a field trip and learning about that painting at some point.

    The important thing to remember about politics is the only thing as bad as a democrat is a republican.

    January 10, 2012
    • I was surprised how little really exists about that painting online. The reason seems to be to protect the artist. People think he was being disrespectful to Washington, but Washington told him to paint whatever he wanted and cooperated with it.

      January 10, 2012
      • Actually it seems more disrespectful to the artist who clearly outsmarted his ridiculous client.

        There is a reason stuff like this exist: http://clientsfromhell.wordpress.com/

        January 10, 2012
      • Clients from Hell is our light reading around the office. Lifts our spirits on particularly difficult days.

        January 10, 2012
      • Um, I could make a few anonymous contributions to that site, but it seems like they have enough……..funny stuff. Sad that it’s so true.

        January 10, 2012
  10. OMGosh! Thank you for that historical lesson. That’s amazing – amazing how people really do not see that they are the butt of many jokes. Geez. How intelligent were they?

    I too am not a fan of the politician – period.

    January 10, 2012
    • If you know much about Charleston, you know the important thing was the city’s being represented in the background. πŸ™‚

      January 10, 2012
  11. It has ever been thus, and only becomes more blatant. An “election year” commences nearly as soon as the door has closed behind the most recent inauguration; politicians tell us what the puppeteers command and dictate we “need” to hear; the very biased media edits and slants it all some more, and the beat goes on…..

    The saddest part of all is that such a large percentage of the population seems willing to follow along, like a herd of sheep, buying into the best/loudest/most appealing/often ugliest rhetoric currently being spoon-fed.

    I’m with Lou and other like-thinkers — TERM LIMITS!! The prospects for 2012 are disheartening, to say the least.

    January 10, 2012
    • I don’t know how anyone can make a decision about voting based on advertising and buzz, but that’s largely how people in our country seem to do it. It is very sad.

      January 10, 2012
    • U B Smart Lady, fer sure….

      January 10, 2012
  12. I can’t figure out which is more hilarious…
    Trumbull’s portrait or the City of Charleston hanging it up in city hall since 1792.

    January 10, 2012
    • They’re very proud of it. πŸ™‚

      January 10, 2012
      • You are freaking me out, Andra…

        Nobody… and mean absolutely NOBODY… reads the political humor blog, The Liberal Light, I recently started.

        I was inspired to write today’s article there because of what you wrote here today!

        It absolutely blew me away that you found and read it.

        January 10, 2012
  13. Very funny story, well told, and a fine way to start the week of out-of -town politicians flooding in for your primary.

    January 10, 2012
    • I wish we could flee to someplace like, oh, Nashville for the whole invasion.

      January 10, 2012
      • During one of the many lulls in the Bama-LSU game last night (and there were many, but that’s another storyline), I switched over to CNN to see if anything new had transpired in New Hampshire. Silly me. Not only was nothing new happening, but it was the same people having the same conversation as last week. And the week before that.
        You, of course, are at Ground Zero for next week.
        I will go ahead and bless your heart…

        January 10, 2012
      • Let’s just hope I don’t have perpetual heartburn or a heart attack in the coming days. Geez, I will be glad when they move on and forget about us.

        January 10, 2012
  14. As a licensed Charleston City Tour Guide, I always loved to take my city visitors to the City Hall Chambers and let them see the portrait and hear the story. Their faces were priceless when they got to the “p line.”

    Another story which you might find interesting and which Andy Brack recently wrote about was the fact that George Washington rented a house to stay in while in Charleston. George insisted on paying for his lodging. (The house is the Heyward Washington residence on Church St. (BTW-I was a docent there for a number of years–showing ppl around the historic residence/museum.) For details see here: http://www.charlestoncurrents.com/issue/11_issues/11.1212.htm#history

    As a child of the ’70s I have advocated the end of war, rights for women, and personal responsibility for a long time. I’m still advocating these things. The sad thing is that we’ll always have to advocate for them.

    I agree with all the comments and you.

    January 10, 2012
    • I knew the name ‘Washington’ was added because he stayed there, but I didn’t realize he rented it with his own funds. I’ve walked past that house a million times and have never toured it.

      January 10, 2012
      • My mother took me there as a youngster. In the 1980s I worked there as a docent. I loved to be there on the quiet winter days; alone in the house with the scent of the beeswax candles, furniture polish and history. I would walk through the house and study the most minute details of the furniture (without touching of course–b/c that was forbidden.) The Holmes Library Bookcase in the upstairs withdrawing room was the inspiration for the one that stood in my mother’s dining room…and which someday may stand in my home…but I’m not necessarily looking forward to that day b/c that will mean my Mama is not here anymore.

        January 10, 2012
      • It’s great that you have so many connections to that house, Cheryl. Is it your favorite one?

        January 10, 2012
      • Yes, it is. While I love the elegance of the Manigault House, and the mystery of the Aiken Rhett House, The Heyward Washington house is very human in scale and feeling. You can easily envision yourself living there. And the garden out back is just wonderful. (as well as the preserved outbuildings.)

        January 10, 2012
      • If I had to name a favorite, I guess it’s Drayton Hall. I could spend days there. Maybe not nights, but days. πŸ™‚

        January 10, 2012
  15. Oh Andra! You’ve made my day. It’s not often that I get such an infusion of humor so early in my morning! I spent a full hour in the car this morning listening to a lot of political diatribe and then sat down and read your post, so thank you! Jon Stewart hits continual home runs and so do you! I need to laugh to keep from despair! We need to care for each other because times aren’t going to get any easier. My little grandmother was from the South and she had a lot of grit and common sense…that’s what we need, I think! Debra

    January 10, 2012
    • I hope you will be able to imagine the ranters on the radio stuck in that boat next time, Debra. πŸ™‚

      January 10, 2012
  16. Jill Clary Stevenson #

    Now that I no longer live in SC (though I do profess to be a native of the fair state), it is fun to follow her politics. We receive news feeds from SC (since Asheville is somewhat closer to SC than Tenn – I suppose that is some sort of blessing?) so I am innundated with political commercials these days. Thank goodness for the mute button. The only fun thing about these commercials is the opportunities they present for discussions with my almost 15-year old. Interesting how the world looks when you don’t have to do anything for a living (like buy your own clothes, food, housing, get out of bed, etc)! Thanks for the Jon Stewart clips.

    January 10, 2012
    • It’s been funny to watch how the views of some people in my life have changed the more responsible for themselves they had to be. πŸ™‚ I can mostly avoid this nonsense because we lack a television, but by the next election cycle, they will have commandeered the internet with pop-up ads all over the place. Those things drive me bonkers in general, but political ones might make me shoot my computer. πŸ™‚

      January 10, 2012
  17. Hahahahaha! Trumbull’s nose-thumbing at the Charleston city fathers is priceless! Perhaps our artists should lampoon our politicians more often. Art has always been a great foil for political hot air.

    January 10, 2012
    • We are seriously lacking in satirical political art these days. I love some of the old English political cartoons. Wicked and filthy and probably right on the majority of the time. πŸ™‚

      January 10, 2012
  18. I LOVE that guy’s sense of humor! “Piss on you” is an appropriate sentiment regarding politics and politicians, too.

    January 10, 2012
    • So far, only one person has UNLIKED my Facebook Author Page today, most assuredly because of this post. I got two or three from a comment I made on another blog yesterday about happy mommy blogs, so I’m really on a roll running people off this week………..maybe I should become a politician. NOT.

      This sentiment is appropriate for a lot of things. πŸ™‚ And, the artist’s sense of humor was priceless. His work also graces the back of our two dollar bill and hangs in the Rotunda of the Capitol.

      January 10, 2012
      • Anybody who has been a mummy or known a mummy, knows that they aren’t happy all the time.

        January 10, 2012
  19. I put up a couple of cartoons in re the @#$% that clogs and clouds the airwaves in election years. I have similar feelings to yours. I quit watching network TV this past summer, and will continue my boycott until after the election. I started becoming increasingly ill with stomach problems because of them, and decided to save myself the trouble. So far, it has worked well for me, but I occasionally get caught because some programs I watch elsewhere will sneak in an ad or two. Shudder. Here is the link to the cartoons: http://paulatohlinecalhoun1951.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/monday-joy-5/

    January 10, 2012
    • It’s really horrible that they create all these health problems by forcing themselves into our lives when we don’t want them there, and then give themselves golden parachute health insurance while the rest of us make do with less and less.

      My blood pressure just elevated typing that. Going to read your funnies now. They will help, I’m sure. πŸ™‚

      January 10, 2012
  20. as the author of the post labeled “hot air” i actually fully agree with your post. however, the point of my post wasn’t so much to focus on Mitt Romney per se, or even politics, but to focus on how seemingly positive words are used in a divisive manner to take advantage of the intolerance that still exists in our country.

    i write quite a bit about politics, but mostly from the standpoint of being fed up with how things operate today. in fact, the start of this post basically has the same starting point as yours…

    http://beautyfulones.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/liberals-made-ron-paul-relevant-and-now-they-need-to-make-him-irrelevant/

    and i end by saying that i wish politicians could do deal with the public in an honest manner which would force them to actually do right by the public instead of trying to misrepresent their opponents or their own record in order to trick people into believing they are “changing” things.

    much love…

    -chico

    January 10, 2012
    • I seldom write about or even pay attention to politics, unless I watch a video from Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. Given the upcoming invasion of our poor little state, this was fitting. I will hide in my house until it is over. πŸ™‚

      January 10, 2012
      • i respect that. don’t blame you.

        i write mainly to highlight what a charade it is, if only to get people to stop depending on political “leaders” for solutions they are not going to provide. so while perfectly reasonable to put them in that boat getting discharged on, we can’t give up on helping ourselves, our community, our country, our world without them imho.

        so don’t hide in your house…at least just runaway to a deserted island!

        January 10, 2012
      • Would that I could find one of those. Only, I would have to kill things to eat, and that’s worse than staring at politicians. πŸ™‚

        January 10, 2012
  21. Andra, you almost lost me at “vituperative.” You’re gonna have to dumb-it-down for me!

    January 10, 2012
    • I will call them a bunch of pit vipers next time. That will translate for everyone. πŸ™‚

      January 10, 2012
  22. Andra, I am not at all interested in politics. All the arguing, opinions and mud-slinging that goes with it seem to be the same in whichever country I read about. I’m also not interested in Facebook, but that is another story! However, I do enjoy the funny side of politics, and love that painting. Surely someone must have noticed it in days gone by… or maybe not – perhaps they were squabbling over another matter by then. Some things never change! Great post! πŸ˜€

    January 10, 2012
    • Lots of people noticed it, Tom, and still do. What I don’t understand is why the City Fathers were PROUD of it, as they obviously were. It has the most prominent position on the walls of Council Chambers, front and center.

      January 10, 2012
    • If your travels lead you to 1791, perhaps you can ask them. πŸ™‚

      January 10, 2012
  23. Fantastic post, Andra πŸ™‚ Nothing like a great big horse’s bottom to humble a politician. Must make sure Phil reads this, it will appeal enormously.

    January 10, 2012
  24. Too true! Good for you!

    January 10, 2012
  25. clap * claP * clAP * cLAP * CLAP . . . WILD APPLAUSE!!!!

    You rock, Andra.
    You had me from the get go . . . but what a GRAND finale! πŸ˜€

    January 10, 2012
    • It is such a funny story, Nancy. I cannot believe it isn’t more widely told. If you ever came here and went on a tour of City Hall, they tend to tell it.

      January 10, 2012
  26. Made. My. Day. I’m voting Andra for President πŸ™‚

    January 10, 2012
    • Andra for President would be a disaster, Tori, unless I’m President of my Rotary Club……..which I AM in July. πŸ™‚

      January 10, 2012
  27. The f’wits are everywhere now unfortunately. Great post.

    January 12, 2012
  28. The subtlety in their wit is far more entertaining than the prime-time nonsense that litters our TV’s today. Nice.

    January 30, 2012
    • I am SO GLAD I don’t have a tv, Lee. This will probably be the last election where that insulates me from the madness, though.

      January 30, 2012

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