Barack Obama’s not feeling The New Yorker at the moment.
The long-running magazine came under fire from the Democrat’s campaign this weekend after printing this satirical cover, which the Senator’s staffers described as “tasteless” and “offensive.” Obama himself told journalists that he has no comment on the cover. Rival John McCain’s camp also offered similar finger-wagging.
The entire debate, of course, raises questions on how far is too far when dealing with political satire. Editor David Remnick insists the magazine’s well within its boundaries, of course:
[Remnick] believes the image “holds up a mirror” to the absurd and often malicious rumours that have stuck to his [Obama's] campaign. And he believes his readers are intelligent enough to get the joke.
Rather depressingly, it has been suggested that people won’t understand the point of cartoon, titled “The Politics of Fear”, and that the cover should have included a caption.
For anyone who needs a caption to get the joke, Remnick’s most extensive explanation of the cover can be found in this question and answer session.
He says it “combines a number of images that have been propagated, not by everyone on the right but by some, about Obama’s supposed “lack of patriotism” or his being “soft on terrorism” or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers. That somehow all this is going to come to the oval office.”
By ridiculing these ideas about Obama, is the New Yorker helping to peel away layers of conspiratorial mud? Or, in the subconscious minds of the masses, will the image simply reinforce lingering fears about the Democratic candidate?
We’re inclined to think people – New Yorkers, at least – would get the joke, but apparently we have too much faith in our nation’s collective sense of humor. But, of course, is Obama’s not laughing, then we probably shouldn’t, either.
Here’s a link to Ryan Lizza’s cover story on Obama’s work in Chicago…