Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On cartoons and caricatures

The New Yorker seeks to lampoon Obama's right-wing critics and ends up offending Obama's boosters.


By DAVID REINHARD

Not funny.

There's Barack and Michelle Obama fist-bumpin' in the Oval Office. He's in Islamic garb -- a turban, tunic and sandals. She's a study in radical chic -- Afro, combat fatigues and boots, AK-47 strapped to her back. A portrait of Osama bin Laden gazes down on the first couple. An American flag burns in the Oval Office fireplace.

Not funny. Obama's team was spot on in calling The New Yorker cover "tasteless and offensive." John McCain was right to call it "inappropriate" and "offensive." I'm a big fan of cartoon kicks and giggles and no fan of either Obama. Barack Obama has serious questions to answer about his past associations (Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and William Ayers) and Michelle seems full of left-wing resentments about both her nation ("For the first time in my life I'm proud of my country"), but neither deserves such a loaded caricature on the cover of a national magazine. Talk about giving aid and comfort to a limited crew of yahoos in the republic's fever swamps.

And The New Yorker's excuse for its "Politics of Fear" cartoon only added insult to injury -- and unmasked Obamaland's diseased and paranoid view of those who don't share their beatific vision.

Barry Blitt's cartoon, we're told, "satirizes the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the presidential election to derail Barack Obama's campaign." According to Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton, the magazine's staff told his campaign that "their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Sen. Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create."

Isn't that special? The New Yorker seeks to lampoon Obama's right-wing critics and ends up offending Obama's boosters.

You know, all Obama's right-wing critics think Michelle's a radical-terrorist and Barack's a closet Muslim with a fondness for Osama. I guess you have to be there -- in the rarefied air of The New Yorker offices or the steamy bunkers of Obamaland -- because that's not the right-wing critique of the Illinois senator I see. This explains why Blitt's cartoon missed its intended target. There's no real intended target to hit. It's all in Blitt and Team Obama's paranoid imaginings. Blitt deployed a cartoon on behalf of a cartoonish view of Obama's right-wing critics -- he didn't caricature reality -- and it backfired on him and Obama.

Now that's funny.

I don't know what campaign Blitt's been watching, but it's not the one I've watched. The reality-based campaign has featured Hillary Clinton's Democratic primary campaign circulating the picture of Obama in a turban and Clinton saying Obama isn't a Muslim -- "as far as I know." The reality-based campaign also featured McCain denouncing a talk-radio host who used Obama's middle name (Hussein) at a McCain rally. Yes, there are no doubt Obama critics who traffic in this Muslim Manchurian candidate nonsense, but they don't reflect a meaningful element of Obama's right-wing opposition or this presidential race.

If it's unclear what campaign Blitt's watching, it's no mystery who's pushing the paranoid fantasies found in Blitt's slick laugh riot. Look no further than two primary figures in his "Politics of Fear" cover cartoon. Yes, meet the Obamas.

Here's Michelle Obama, last February discussing "the obvious, ultimate fear bomb" -- the use of Barack's full name -- deployed against her husband in his 2004 Senate race: "We learned, No. 1, that when power is threatened by real change they will say anything to stop it."

Ah, the big, bad no-names, "they."

And here's hubby discussing the upcoming race last month in Florida: "We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

True, he was good enough to name the "they" -- those Republicans, don't you know? -- before saying they would make his race an issue. Classy.

Yeah, there's no other possible reason to oppose Obama. What a joke -- unless, of course you're an Obama or a New Yorker cartoonist.

So, have you heard the one about a Muslim man and an AK 47-toting African-American woman fist-bumpin' in the Oval Office?




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