Saturday, July 19, 2008

Obama Misses a Great Chance

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If some of the comments I hear from folks I run into are any indication, this is the column some of you have been looking for.

"Why," some readers have asked me, "don't you write something about Barack Obama?"

Now, obviously, if you read this column at all, you know I'm an Obama supporter. I have been ever since I saw the inspiring call for national unity in his "E Pluribus Unum" speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and asked, "Why the heck isn't THIS guy the nominee?"

The man is, in my opinion, the best chance we have of breaking the cycle of divisive, payback-driven, red vs. blue, culture-war politics that have become the norm in the past 20 years.

But the dude really needs to get a grip over this whole New Yorker thing.

In case you missed it, the cover of the July 14 New Yorker magazine showed a cartoon of Barack Obama dressed in Muslim garb, giving a fist-bump (or as one Fox News bimbo called it, "terrorist fist jab") to wife Michelle, who's dressed in camo and combat boots and carrying a slung AK-47.

In the background, a portrait of Osama bin Laden hangs over a fireplace in which the American flag burns merrily.

The cover is meant to illustrate an article entitled "The Politics of Fear," and it's a pretty dead-on satire of the hysterical, fearful images that some people have of the Obamas. And by "some people," I mean "extremely stupid people who believe everything they see on Fox News or hear in the demented ravings of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh."

Unfortunately, a lot of people didn't see it as funny. Some commentators on the New Yorker Web site demanded that their subscriptions be canceled, and one not only threatened never to read the New Yorker again, but also insisted he'd never even come to the city of New York, which seems a bit extreme.

Even the Obama campaign didn't seem to get that the cartoon was lampooning the stereotypes, not claiming they were true.

"Offensive and tasteless," they sniffed, and the McCain campaign followed suit.

Well, duh. It's satirical. Offensive and tasteless is part of the package. If someone's not barking in outrage, then you haven't done satire properly.

After all, the classic example of satire, the one by which all others are measured, was Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," which suggested that the solution to overpopulation and famine in Ireland was for the Irish people to eat their children.

Obviously it was a joke, meant to mock the callous attitude people of the time held toward the Irish. But it got some angry and indignant letters, you betcha.

Look, I understand that the Obamites are still a little sensitive about the whole Muslim thing.

They don't want to see anything that the usual crowd of drooling idiots is going to point at and go "See! He IS a Muslim!"

I'm sure there's even a fear of the phenomenon known as "even the liberal," as in "even the liberal New Yorker says Obama's a Muslim."

But let's face it: Those mouth-breathers who are still buying into the whole "Obama as Muslim" thing aren't going to be reading the New Yorker anyway. Heck, they probably don't even know what it is.

I've got to tell you, I've never believed in literacy tests for voting, but after all of the evidence that's been presented that Obama isn't a Muslim, I might be willing to make an exception. After the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, anyone who believes that Barack Obama goes to a mosque may just be too stupid to vote.

Sure, all of us, even morons, are entitled to our opinion. But whether or not Obama is Muslim is not an opinion. It's a fact that he is not a Muslim. People are not, as the saying goes, entitled to their own facts. And, as comedian Ron White famously says, "You can't fix stupid."

But I digress.

All that said, Obama blew his chance on this one. What he should have done is laugh and go, "Yep, those kinds of images of me and my wife are pretty stupid all right. That cartoonist got them dead on." But he didn't.

Oh, I'll still vote for him. I won't refuse to vote for a candidate because he doesn't get a joke in the snooty old New Yorker.

That would be elitist.


Kent said...

I was really hoping he'd come out and say he got that it was satire. Instead he has his camp issue a damnation of it. Yet another bad move from a man who just betrayed the Constitution 9adding yet another to the ranks of things he said he wouldn't do but went right on ahead and did) and all of us who will vote for him just the same for no reason better than he isn't a damn Republican.

norby said...

So, apparently a large part of the population still doesn't get that the New Yorker does satire.

That would explain why most of the people I know don't understand the cartoons.