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Many readers disliked yesterday’s item “WhineOn.org,” about the hysteria over The New Yorker‘s cover illustration on Barack and Michelle Obama. Indeed, the item generated more negative mail than an earlier post that contained the link to the video of Hillary Clinton as Adolf Hitler in the film Downfall.
A few edited excerpts:
I have been a NYer subscriber for years. My immediate response was not mirth, it was sorrow and disappointment. What’s funny is that you blame us, with no regard for the capacity of the New Yorker to produce bad or tasteless satire. Liberals are solidly in Obama’s camp, and McCain’s stance in the polls has nothing to do with us purportedly “lacking a sense of humor.” –Timothy Sanders
I have to say that I slightly object to your characterization of Obama’s camp reaction to this New Yorker picture. The New Yorker is a fine magazine, just like Harper’s, and I subscribe to both. But I cringed at this picture because I think that the general American public, by default Republican/conservative, are far less tolerant of gaffes and/or humor coming from Democrats than they are when it comes from Republicans. I do not think I am elitist here, but aren’t these the same public who voted for Bush in 2004 because they thought he was a far more “authentic,” “salt-of-the-earth guy” and “someone they could have a beer with,” when all evidence, which was no secret, pointed to the contrary about Bush and his rather elite upbringing and connections? –Nitish Dass
How was that cover humorous? Where was the twist? It was merely a visual representation of every bit of slander that’s been heaved at Obama, none of which is true. Which part of the drawing even hinted at these allegations being flat-out lies? Perhaps it’s time for Ken Silverstein to put aside his blind hatred for Obama. Or perhaps Harper’s can change the name of its website to we_slander_obama.org and have done with it. –Len Cassamas
I don’t disagree with all the sentiments expressed here, but I think the satirical nature of the cartoon is obvious. It clearly is making fun of all of the stupid rumors about Obama, not endorsing them, and most people will see that. The ones who don’t are likely to vote for John McCain anyway.
I find Len Cassamas’s comment about my “blind hatred for Obama” laughable. From the outset of this election season, I’ve thought (and written) that Obama was, on balance, the most interesting and refreshing candidate running for the presidency. But that doesn’t mean I have to suspend all disbelief, as so many people seem willing and eager to do, and pretend that he is an unconventional outsider determined to challenge the status quo.
I also have found consistently annoying the egregious way in which the media (collectively and generally) failed to scrutinize Obama and so clearly sided with his candidacy and against Hillary Clinton’s during the Democratic primaries. And this video was unforgivable and could have driven otherwise sane people directly into the arms of Rudy Giuliani.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”