July 14, 2008

About That New Yorker Cover...

It looks like the political firestorm to start out the week is going to be the cover art on the latest edition of the New Yorker, which shows caricatures of Barack and Michelle Obama.

The freshman Senator is shown dressed in traditional African apparel, "fist-bumping" Mrs. Obama, who is portrayed with a wild afro in a black shirt, combat boots, and camo fatigues with a AK-47 slung across her back, while an American flag burns in the fireplace and a portrait of Osama bin Laden hangs on the wall in what is apparently the Oval Office.

Mike Allen of The Politico notes that the Obama Campaign is not amused:

The Obama campaign quickly condemned the rendering. Spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement: "The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

It is tasteless and offensive, but then, much of the content of the New Yorker falls into that category if you live outside the neo-Copernican worldview of a magazine that sees Manhattan as the center of the universe. Those of us outside of that self-involved hemorrhage of land between the Hudson and East Rivers are simply part of a bitter and clingy "not us" to the magazine's erudite familiars.

It is perhaps this great unknowing of life to the left of the West Side Highway that causes even the caricatures of the Obama family to be wildly inaccurate. A lampoon is only effective when it contains truth, and certain elements of the imagery fall apart under even passing review.

There is precious little truth, for example, in the casting of Michelle Obama as an apparent black nationalist. When mentioned by her detractors, Mrs. Obama is more likely to be mocked as a Hyde Park Eeyore than a militant disciple of Bobby Seale. Depictions of her as an Affirmative Action-enabled whiner with dubious patriotism are not uncommon, but she has never been portrayed as being violent.

In that vein, there has never been any suggestion that either one of the Obama's would come within spitting distance of a firearm, much less actually touch (or wear) one. While his record on firearms is as anorexic as the rest of his resume, Barack clearly stated his intentions to outlaw all handguns of any kind, and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns as well during his short turn in state government. A parsing of his web site betrays that the first-term Senator does not recognize the right of self defense in any form, and contains only a vague nod towards hunting and target shooting, as if the Founders though that the taking of a pheasant was of such importance that it must be enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Other parts of the caricature were sadly more on target in displaying common attacks directed against Obama.

Barack Obama does have a multi-level "Muslim problem."

Militant Islamists want him to be president—Hamas even has phone banks in Gaza touting his candidacy—because they see a "soft" candidate that will allow them breathing room to operate. Dictatorships (including belligerent Islamic nations) look at Obama's pledge to abandon Iraq at any human cost as a sign of weakness, cowardice, and foolishness, and foresee an "all-talk" Neville Chamberlain in the White House that will allow them their localized brutalities with no interference.

American Muslims see a candidate that shuns them, and even forces them off camera.

Add in the fact that Obama's Muslim half-brother Abongo is militantly-Anti-European, and the junior Senator certainly has an image problem. The rumors that Obama is a secret Muslim trained in Islamic madrassas in his youth, when combined with real photos of Obama in traditional African dress, help portray as Obama as an insider not to be trusted.

Even his surname—Ted Kennedy once famously mangled it—is a problem, sounding too much like that of al Qaeda's infamous leader. His middle name of "Hussein" has also been turned into a smear by some, encouraging some dim-witted but well-meaning supporters to interject it as their own in hopes of diluting its impact on xenophobes.

As for the flag burning in the Oval Office fireplace in the image, it is obviously meant as an attack on the patriotism of both the candidate and his wife for numerous deeds, statements, and dubious entanglements with radicals.

Obama's political career is based entirely upon relationships he developed with far left radicals in Chicago, from race-hustling ministers, to old Marxists and communists, to the infamous domestic terrorists in whose home he started his improbable political run.

The caricature based upon rumors associated with Barack Obama in the New Yorker is distasteful. A picture based upon just the facts would even more inflammatory.

Update: Michelle Malkin shows far worse examples of political art, and suggests the improbable.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 14, 2008 09:14 AM

The AK 47 is perfect. Yes, they both support gun control, but she comes across as a commie black militant, and the AK 47 is a symbol of Commie militancy.

Never mind that now it is a hot, cheap item at gun shows with the gun owners/collectors/ 2nd amendment activists.

Posted by: Smarty at July 14, 2008 09:48 AM

A nit: I think pre-Copernican might be a better characterization than neo-Copernican. Everything revolving around the Earth (and a particular point on the Earth at that).

Posted by: iconoclast at July 14, 2008 10:50 AM

For all the talk from Team Obama about not being taken in with the "distractions," since Obama corner the quest for the nomination, there has been nothing but "distractions."

If they had been able to keep a leash on Wes Clark, that "patriotism" speech might now be more than a footnote. Instead, all there is to talk about are the "distractions" and the poorly executed "pivot" that managed to set "a new indoor record" for the number of opinions clarified in the last few weeks.

(Hint to Team Obama: these lawyer-like tactics may work fine in DC, but in the Heartland this guy now looks like a idiot)

Posted by: Neo at July 14, 2008 11:09 AM

Good observation Neo, on the Obama camps fixation on "distractions." The more they agitate the distractions, the less they have to talk about issues and programs and goals. Somebody with a resume as thin as Obama's, and with a track records that is uniformly hard left, can little afford the sort of substantive talk he keeps pretending to want to have.

So this cover is a Godsend for his campaign - more fodder for additional brilliant, leg tingling speeches filled with beautiful platitudes and little meaning, as a fawning press weeps with joys and tells us that we might not deserve such a transcendent leader.

And as for the offensive aspects of the cover, well obviously it's the Republicans' fault.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at July 14, 2008 11:39 AM

Iconoclast, right idea, how about neo-Ptolomaic?

Posted by: David at July 14, 2008 12:23 PM

She surely stares in a violent manner. Her tone of speech is violent as is her posture.

One could have nightmares dreaming he was married to her. She has that Reverend Wright form of congeniality.

Posted by: Typical Whte Person at July 14, 2008 03:08 PM

I bet she already called Jackson and told him "If you think you are going to touch my purse, much less dig around in it until you find my husband's nuts, you have another thing coming"

Posted by: Smarty at July 14, 2008 03:54 PM

"The freshman Senator is shown dressed in traditional African apparel."

This is not wrong, but it's like saying "traditional European dress." Which tradition?

BHO was in Somali tribal dress--not to be confused with Somalian nationality. There are dozens of tribes with their attendant traditions located in Kenya alone.

Otherwise, carry on.

Posted by: baldilocks at July 14, 2008 04:53 PM

With friends like the New Yorker, does Obama need enemies?

Look at it this way: think of how many people are just gonna walk by the newsstand, see that cover, and walk on without reading the article. They might not think about it consciously, but somewhere in their subconscious, the connection "Obama=terrorist/Muslim" has a pretty good chance of being established.

In short, the New Yorker's plan will work about as well as any cooked up by Wile E. Coyote. They are so out-of-touch with the rest of America that they can't even see that, more's the pity.

I say again, with friends like the New Yorker, Obama really doesn't need enemies.

Posted by: C-C-G at July 14, 2008 09:37 PM