Twenty Cultural Events for Recovering Political Addicts

Election Rehab
Photo Illustration by Newsweek. Source photos, clockwise from top left: Mark Weiss / Getty Images (frame); Courtesy of Board of Trustees—National Gallery of Art, Washington; (c) 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris/Succession Marcel Du

For the TV pundit

ART:
The pundits have been talking for months about the candidates duking it out, so now it’s time for them to witness some real fighting. They’ll be able to do that in the George Bellows show about to open at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where the best works are the stunning, bloody boxing pictures that the artist painted just before World War I. 
—Blake Gopnik

MUSIC: American Idol winner Phillip Phillips’s debut album, The World From the Side of the Moon, out Nov. 20, is right up your alley. Sit back on the couch, pop open a bottle of wine, and listen to his ballad “Home”—all while thanking your lucky stars you’ll get to spend more time there now that the madness has subsided. —Marlow Stern

BOOKS: You’ve been shouting, blustering, hollering, agonizing, wrenching, and boring for months, years, now about Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and the rest of the gang. We’re sick of you, and you must surely be sick of yourself, as well. Go read the quiet, spare, elegant short stories of Alice Munro in her new collection Dear Life. We’ll see you after your blood pressure drops. —Lucas Wittmann

TV: Ohio, Florida, and Virginia? Try Juárez, Rio, and Libya. After spending months on the ground game, talking heads will appreciate the global four-part docuseries Witness, beginning on HBO this week, which follows photojournalists through war zones.  —Kara Cutruzzula

For the Undecided voter

ART:
Even though some people condemn indecision, the undecided voter should take heart that John Cage, one of the great creators of the 20th century, believed heartily in leaving his art-making to chance. In celebration of Cage’s centennial year, museums from Portland, Ore., to Bremen, Germany, are hosting shows of his works and ephemera. —B.G.

MUSIC: If you were one of those ambivalent voters, then you probably lack basic decision-making abilities, and, thus, could opt for the aptly titled Music 
From Another Dimension by veteran rockers Aerosmith, which hit shelves 
on Nov. 6. —M.S.

BOOKS: You ruined the year for us. If you had just made up your mind months ago we would have been spared Nate Silver, political ads, and super PACs. For you we wish only perpetual uncertainty, so here’s another choice: a year of listening to Jenny McCarthy read from her latest memoir, Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic, or Rielle Hunter detailing her sexcapades with John Edwards in What Really Happened. The decision is yours. —L.W.

TV: To see where this election falls in the spectrum of grand events, tune in to auteur Oliver Stone’s epic 10-part series The Untold History of the United States that promises, just like you, to “challenge the status quo.” —K.C.

For Obama

ART:
As our 44th “white” president, according to Chris Rock at least, Obama should now take time to discover his inner black, by visiting the new Fore show of young African-American artists at the Studio Museum in Harlem. —B.G.

MUSIC: We know POTUS is into rap judging by Jay-Z’s spirited performance during one of his final rallies, so he should pick up Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, one of the best hip-hop albums of the year. —M.S.

BOOKS: Our philosopher in chief may want to take a step back from the hurly-burly of electoral politics, retreat to the Truman balcony, and refresh himself with 3,000 years of wisdom on human nature and politics in Alan Ryan’s magisterial On Politics, a Socrates-to-Obama history of political philosophy. —L.W.

TV: He exercises to music by the Rolling Stones, so surely Obama can get a little satisfaction from the documentary Crossfire Hurricane premiering Nov. 15 on HBO. Covering Mick and Keith’s very impressive rise, it runs down 50 years of Britain’s bad boys making good. —K.C.

For Mitt Romney

ART:
No one has ever said that Mitt Romney didn’t like the look of his own face—and now he should indulge his inner Narcissus by visiting the huge Richard Phillips portrait of him in the political-art show called We the People, at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in New York. —B.G.

MUSIC: The former Massachusetts governor can embrace country crooner—and devout Republican—Toby Keith’s latest, Hope on the Rocks, the title of which is a not-so-subtle dig at Obama’s “Hope” mantra back in ’08. —M.S.

BOOKS: With five strapping, square-jawed sons with blonde wives, Romney should focus on his legacy, and there’s no better model than Joseph P. Kennedy and his brood as seen in David Nasaw’s new biography The Patriarch. Let the Romneys shine for another 50 years. —L.W.

TV: The TV season is barely underway, so there’s still plenty of time to embrace 
the fifth season of NBC’s Parks and 
Recreation. Relentless and relentlessly chipper Lesley Knope is the Platonic ideal for all once and future bureaucrats. —K.C.

For the political wife

ART:
  If political spouses sometimes get treated like dumb window dressing, they should know that one of the most important, complex artworks of the 20th century is all about a wife. The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, painted on glass by Marcel Duchamp 
in the years around World War I, is 
one of the treasures of the great Philadelphia Museum of Art, which has 
now built an entire special exhibition around it. —B.G.

MUSIC: Congrats ladies, the drudgery of campaigning is over! Celebrate by cranking Taylor Swift’s Red, an album inspired by a bitter breakup that includes the appropriate single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” —M.S.

BOOKS: We all know that you’re smarter, more sensible, and politically savvy than your husband, so let’s agree that next time around, you should be the one running for office. Read up on Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra, Robert K. Massie’s Catherine the Great, and Duff Cooper’s Talleyrand to see how leaders have done it in the past. —L.W.

TV: Navigating the razor-sharp divide between the upper and lower class is your specialty, so what better indulgence than the third season of Downton Abbey? While it doesn’t return to PBS until Jan. 6, nothing’s stopping you from flying to London and watching it before everyone else. Go on, you deserve it. —K.C.

Join the Discussion