Robert Crumb and the Powers That Be

crumb-suiI tend to read weird, avant-garde post on the Internet so my readers don’t have to. And admittedly, weirdness gets me going. Maybe it’s because I suffer from the malady hyper-boredom that I seek out the strange and bizarre to remind myself that there’s more to life than that dictated by the alarm clock.


I was reading a post on artist Robert Crumb’s website called “Crumb On Others” where he gives his opinions on famous people. Naturally, fans of Crumb and his alternative comics want to know what he thinks about everyone from Marilyn Monroe to J.D. Salinger to Mao. What caught my attention was his take on Jimmy Carter that, of course, veered into other presidents like our Dear Leader, Barack Obama. His take on the Big O provides many lessons (all emphasis, mine):

I think Obama is basically a fairly decent guy also, but he just can’t come up against the powers that be and Carter couldn’t either. Carter really tried, he talked about limits to growth and pulling back and making ecological concerns stronger, you know, and all that stuff. But nobody wanted to hear that in the ’70s except for a tiny minority of people. Carter was relatively decent for that office, relatively decent. You know if you think about the Republican presidents and the Democratic presidents, we had Kennedy, then we had Johnson, who was questionable — I don’t know about Johnson –; then you had Nixon the Republican who was just awful. And then Nixon resigned from his office. And then you had Carter — well, before him we had Gerald Ford, who was probably not that bad of a guy but not very effective. And then we had Carter. And Carter really tried to do the right thing when he was president, but he couldn’t do much. And then you had fucking Reagan. Ugh. I think Reagan was really bad for the United States, really bad. And then you had Bush the First, who was not very good either. And then you had Clinton who had his points. Hilary and Bill, they tried, but he was too much of an operator, too much of a player. And then you had Bush the Second, ugh. Another horrible regime, probably one of the worst administrations ever, that brought America down in the eyes of the world so drastically. They fucked up everything so badly. They really set America back. And now you’ve got Obama, who just can’t do that much. It’s too far gone. I don’t know about Obama. But I think when he got in there he wasn’t a total sell-out like Bush was. Bush was a complete sell-out to the powers that be.

Most amusing. No matter who is president, there’s always this group, the “powers that be,” and that’s true to some extent, but Crumb wants to veer into them being some sort of Illuminati while more realistically the “powers that be” contain people from all across the spectrum, not just on the right. Still, these Democrats, they “try so hard,” and are “decent” fellows, but their hands are tied, while the Republicans “sell-out” to the powers that be. I’m certainly not going to defend the Republicans in toto, especially when you see what the likes of Haley Barbour has done to Mississippi, but Crumb’s take on politics is a great amalgam on the uninformed voter that clings to long outdated cliches about the left and right wings. People actually believe that Obama wants to change things for the better but he’s powerless to do so. Both conclusions are wrong if you have eyes. Same with the Clintons, Carter, LBJ, et al. It was and has always been about power. The only presidents you can really say weren’t about power are Ford and Reagan. Ford was a loyal back-bencher, while Reagan, it can be argued, was the most radical of Presidents since FDR, but for very different reasons. Reagan knew where we were headed toward an authoritarian government and he did what he could to stop it. But, as Crumb likes to say, they can only do so much.

Alas, it comes down to the old cliches revolving around that one sacrosanct group known as “the poor.” Today, we might hedge our bets and call them the “disenfranchised” since it’s becoming harder and harder to call people with cars, televisions and iPhones “poor.” Nevertheless, thanks to help from the media, Hollywood and pop culture in general, the Democrat Party has a monopoly on caring for the “poor” while at the same time making sure the poor can never rise above their standing. And any that do, well…they are the true “sell-outs.”

It’s the same in the Middle East, believe it or not. Why do some many “liberals” support the terrorists of Hamas and the Palestinians over the democratic, civil-society of Israel? It’s simple. The Palestinians are poor (no quotes for that one) and thusly according to the liberal/progressive religion, that makes them morally superior to anyone else, especially the economically thriving state of Israel. Certainly, there are other aspects to it, like that old chestnut antisemitism, but moral superiority is the tip of the spear.

It’s maddening, but it’s the reality of the situation. If Ted Cruz or Scott Walker, to name two, want to create another Reagan Revolution, they have to break through this wall of ignorance with the general public that wants to feel good about themselves. Remember, people voted for the first black president in 2008 not for him, but for themselves. They wanted to feel good, feel morally superior that they voted for a black man…the rest of it was inconsequential in their minds, but far from inconsequential for the rest of us.


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