Washington Babylon — July 15, 2008, 10:12 am

That New Yorker Cover

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.

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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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