Tag Archives: politics

Crimea

The most beautiful land I've ever stormed
Crimea, Crimea, Crimea, Crimea….

All the beaches and dachas and woods where my army swarmed
Crimea, Crimea, Crimea, Crimea….

Putin-SingingCrimea!
I've just annexed all of Crimea,
And suddenly Ukraine
Will never be the same
To me.

Crimea!
I've just held a vote in Crimea,
And suddenly I've shown
How vain a threat or drone
Can be!

Crimea!
Take by force, and we're there in person.
By decree, and we're edging toward Kherson….

Crimea,
I'll keep occupying Crimea!

The most beautiful land I've ever stormed:
Cri-meeeeeeeee-aaaaaaaa.

Three Rings for the Republican Kings under the Missouri Sky

 

"Sing to me, David, of clown shoes and a man…." Re l'affaire Todd Akin? OK. If you insist….

 

The elephant nominates a clown
To foil the opposition and to win,
To try to shut that whole thing down!

And that's the part that makes me frown.
I ponder it with great chagrin:
The elephant nominates a clown?

An eleventh hour swap would win renown.
Akin's kisser clamors with foot within
To try to shut that whole thing down!

Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown…
But heavier plod the huge shoe and its twin!
The elephant nominates a clown.

Sucking Charybdis spins; who swims may drown.
He ought to wring his towel and throw it in,
To try to shut that whole thing down.

But there's no hope of change in Barnum town.
Though donkeys bray or take it on the chin,
The elephant nominates a clown
To try to shut that whole thing down.

New Hampshire Primary, 2012

 

Well, it's Primary Day in New Hampshire,
And the voters must finally decide.
In the Countertop State, it's for damned sure,
That no candidate gets a free ride.

Having put paid, Mitt Romney is cruising
By a margin of many a digit.
He likes firing his engine half-throttle,
While conservatives waver and fidget.

Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Huntsman,
To put brakes on Mitt's juggernaut and park it,
Have tried all the political stunts. Man
Bites dog! They disdain the free market!

Poor Rick Perry had fire in the belly,
But in truth he's at home on the range.
Since his race is all "Oops!" and "Whoa, Nelly!"
His insistence on bucking seems strange.

By both flanks of the centrist investor
Drives a dark horse who might take it all,
But would settle for place, show, or jester:
It's irascible Ludwig von Paul.

So Republicans, Democrats, and even
Independents will vote all day long
To anoint a Republican leader.
What could possibly go wrong?

 

Hillary in Analog

Hillary ClintonAbout a week before Christmas, on a particularly slow news day, Drudge posted a photo of Hillary Clinton that had the blogosphere all abuzz. Ann Althouse gathered and summarized the relevant lines of commentary. It seems that some were shocked by Hillary’s weathered appearance, but some were shocked that others were shocked. Some, like Volokh, liked her look, but others didn’t and poked around in search of a double standard. Still others maintained that attention to unflattering photos is nothing new and not aimed only at candidates who are women. By way of contrast and context, Althouse also reproduces a photo provided by one of her readers.

Hillary Clinton

Those lines of inquiry and speculation are interesting, but seeing this photo reminded me of an article by the art historian Sheldon Nodelman. In “How to Read a Roman Portrait”, Art in America 63 (Jan/Feb 1975), pp. 26-33, Nodelman turns to the heyday of Roman portrait sculptures and asks why some of them seem strikingly naturalistic and unflattering while others seem notably idealized. What he has in mind is the contrast between the portraits such as this anonymous bust from ca. 80BC, now in the Palazzo Torlonia in Rome, Roman Republican portrait bust and this bust of Caesar Augustus from 50 to 70 years later, now in the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University.

Roman Portrait Busts, Republican and Imperial

Nodelman argues that the unforgiving portrait style was strongly tied to Roman Republican values, while the idealizing mode was a mark of Julian, Imperial values. He writes

Through emphasis on the marks of age, these men call attention to their long service to the state and their faithfulness to constitutional procedures, in intended contrast to the meteoric careers and dubious methods of the individualistic faction-leaders– men like Marius and Sulla, Pompey and Caesar, later Antony and Octavian– whose ambitions and rivalries in the quest for personal power were rending the fabric of the republic.

The notion here is that the naturalism of the Roman Republican portrait suggests the battle-scarred character and immanent service of the person thus portrayed, while the idealism of the Roman Imperial portrait hints at the superhuman character and transcendent origin of the person shown. Age well earned stands in contrast to perpetual, effortless youth.

We’re a far cry from ancient Rome, of course. Neither the cultural conventions nor the political circumstances make a ready match with the United States of the early 21st century. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder whether some such ideological mapping makes sense in the current political season’s wash of portrait imagery.

Among the currently viable candidates for the presidency, only McCain directly thematizes his worn and weathered condition. His self-description as more scarred than Frankenstein[’s monster] suggests a connection to values such as those the pre-imperial Roman elite chose to emphasize. In contrast, much has been made of Romney’s corporate polish, and the candidate himself has emphasized jokingly the importance of not mussing his carefully sprayed hair. On the Republican side, then, the McCain/Romney competition might be understood to break out on lines analogous to those that Nodelman defines.

If, on the Democratic side, Obama seems to fit the role of young, polished, and glowing, perhaps an emphasis on the somewhat wizened Hillary rather than the airbrushed, pore-free Hillary would serve well her goal of drawing a rich contrast.