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Tilting at Windmills

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July 14, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THAT NEW YORKER COVER....REMIXED....Over at Napsterization, Mary Hodder does a remix of the Obama New Yorker cover based on my suggestion from last night. Thanks, Mary!

Kevin Drum 8:42 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (85)

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The debate over The New Yorker cover has indeed made for some strange political bedfellows. I look at it this way. What would be the response if the cover of the magazine had been a younger John McCain carrying Cindy in a wedding gown over the threshold with a large satchel of money and the first Mrs. McCain portrayed in the background? Everyone would be up in arms over the incredibly bad taste shown by that depiction. But nothing on that cover would be false. Here we have a cover where nothing shown is true but it is deemed satire.

This cover is not satire, it is bad taste masquerading as protected speech. I for one would cancel my subscription to The New Yorker. In fact I am thinking of subscribing just so I can cancel!

Posted by: Stuart Shiffman on July 14, 2008 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

While I understand the intent at "humour," the initial impact is rather alarming.

Our world blurs so much reality with fiction that this crude attempt at revealing "the absurdities of the rightwing nut machine" is simply too obtuse for most folks.

I don't think guns should ever be made "light" of. Too many real bullets have killed too many real people.

This fictional depiction seems also to mock Islam.

Not a good Idea guys.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on July 14, 2008 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

So, Begins the main stream media's stealth attack on Obama.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on July 14, 2008 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

The thing is that it makes sense now but wouldn't have before the controversy. And while it would have taken giant cajones when it didn't make sense, it doesn't now.

So it's genius, but not if one assumes that time is a strict progression of cause to effect. It's genius from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint where time is more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.

Posted by: B on July 14, 2008 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

How can a bunch of smart people be so stupid as to put that crap on the cover? Thanks a lot New Yorker. Schmucks.

Posted by: siditious on July 14, 2008 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with all of the above comment (the first 3). And to add my own take, what was the need to put Michelle Obama in this picture? They could have made their "hilarious", "over everyone's head" without her involved.

I'm telling you, do this shit to McCain and the New Yorker would be burning to the ground. The outcry from Fox to CNN would be deafening.

Posted by: glutz78 on July 14, 2008 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Stuart Shiffman: What would be the response if the cover of the magazine had been a younger John McCain carrying Cindy in a wedding gown over the threshold with a large satchel of money and the first Mrs. McCain portrayed in the background?

Great idea for their Oct cover! Add Cindy popping pills, John staring bewildered at a computer, a leaky beer tap flooding the oval office, and it would be picture perfect.

Posted by: has407 on July 14, 2008 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

That's not satire, Kevin. And it's definitely not the New Yorker.

Posted by: gussie on July 14, 2008 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

I would refer everyone to this comment from the previous thread:

There is a not a single person in the world whose opinion of Obama will be changed by this cover. So who the hell cares?
Posted by: JD on July 14, 2008 at 3:22 AM

Posted by: thersites on July 14, 2008 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

[Deleted. This is spam, not a real comment.]

Posted by: on July 14, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

The amazing thing is a majority of the public believes there is a "Truth" to this image. Man, how stupid are we and how incompetent are our present news media that these myths stand.

Posted by: Darsan54 on July 14, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with the original cover is that it assumes Americans are smart and will read a 1500 word essay. Most people will look at the cover and think, "oh he really is a Muslim". I think that this altered cover would have only garnered complaints from Mccain.

Posted by: Live Free or Die on July 14, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Mary Hodder does a remix of the Obama New Yorker cover based on my suggestion from last night.

...and, now it isn't funny anymore. Ahh, perfect.

Posted by: Evan on July 14, 2008 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Given all this outcry over a satirical image of a Presidential candidate, I am beginning to appreciate how deeply Rushdie offended the Iranian mullahs (with his "blasphemy") and how the Dutch newspaper(s) offended the muslims with their cartoon of the Prophet.

If you thought the response from the muslim world was outrageous at western free speech (targeted at their Prophet), there is lot less to be offended here (satire targeting a Presidential Candidate).

I'm pointing this out for perspective...

Posted by: rational on July 14, 2008 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pointing this out for perspective...
Posted by: rational

calm down, drama queen ... no one's advocating murdering the artist.

Posted by: Gonads on July 14, 2008 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Is there any evidence that John McCain wants to run on this basis? Any evidence that the truth in your version has any basis in reality?

I can't believe I am about to type this, but Ann Althouse has some good commentary on this. (Actually that is her forte, culture and art, just not law.) Also available with good commentary is Sadly, No! and The Poorman. And John Cole of Balloon Juice. And g-d forbid and strike me down, but even Michelle Malkin links to some interesting comparison political cartoons about Condoleeza Rice.

Riverdaughter's post about TNR the HuffPo is right on target.

Ambrose Pierce, Mark Twain, Robert Mapplethorpe, John Lennon, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks. They've all called in and said thanks, but no thanks, they have no satire writing position for you.

Posted by: jerry on July 14, 2008 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Your lying again....

But expect that from you - it is a REAL COMMENT.

This won't hurt obama - selling out his base on FISA and telecom immunity will

A self-proclaimed constitution "expert" and professor has supported the elimination of the bill of rights - think about it:

Without the First Amendment, newspapers could only print the "party line" or be suppressed. Books and plays would be censored or banned. We might have to attend the State Authorized Religion, or be forbidden to attend any other form of worship, or any worship at all. We could even have a church telling us how to live, backed up with government force! We would have no right of public assembly or protest, nor could we petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Without the Second Amendment, we would be a completely disarmed populace, at the mercy of government troops or security forces.

Without the Third Amendment, the government could quarter troops in your home without your consent.

Without the Fourth Amendment, the government's security force or military could search your home at will, without a warrant, confiscate your papers and property, monitor your communications and phone conversations without your ever knowing about it.

Without the Fifth Amendment, you could be picked up, your property confiscated, you could be held incommunicado for an indefinite time without legal counsel and could be forced to testify against yourself.

Without the Sixth Amendment, your could be held for an indefinite period, without charge, and without being told why you're being held. Your trial, if any, could be held in secret without your being able to confront your accusers or examining any evidence, nor would you have the right to legal counsel.

Without the Seventh Amendment, in civil suits, you would not have the right of trial by jury.

Without the Eighth Amendment, there would be no limit on the amount of bail set or

Without the Ninth Amendment, any rights not spelled out would be forfeit to the government.

Without the Tenth Amendment, the People of the United States would have no powers reserved to themselves, it would all lie with the State.

You are willing to give obama a pass on this and howl "unfair" on a satire piece in a magazine known for satire.

Shame on you - not that I expect much from your blog.

Posted by: on July 14, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Someone called it "a satire of a misperception." That's a nuanced description to say the least.

But the for the 30% of Americans who tell pollsters that they believe that Obama is an unpatriotic black Panther Muslim terrorist sympathizer, it's quite a bit more straightforward: it simply confirms their mistaken belief.

And, of course, it confirms the view of the traditional media that Obama has a fundamental problem with white working class Americans.

Or, as Stephen Colbert is wont to say after he shows (yet again) the video of Rev. Wright: "Why won't this story die?"

Satirize that all you like, but the consequif you like, but I find it depressing.

Posted by: ara rubyan on July 14, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

...Or you could just use the cartoon Matt Bors drew four months ago, which was funnier than the New Yorker's to begin with.

Posted by: August J. Pollak on July 14, 2008 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

And g-d forbid and strike me down, but even Michelle Malkin links to some interesting comparison political cartoons about Condoleeza Rice.
Posted by: jerry

I notice that ms.-in-defense-of-internment malkin bitches about the outrageous mccain cartoon, and calls the condi cartoon blatantly racist.

I don't expect mccain apologists to appreciate the argument that Dems are better served by not catering to this type of media attention, and that there is some value in circling the wagons around the presumptive nominee against the racism infecting somewhat >30% of the remaining repub base.

Posted by: Gonads on July 14, 2008 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't scour the other thread, but I have read a lot (too many) posts on this subject all over the internets and I'm yet to find a single adequate analogy for this cover with McCain as the subject.

Is it because Obama is new to the scene that makes these crazy ideas possible? Or is it because righties (and racist Democrats) believe, or want to believe stuff about Obama that is so absurd that there is no way to find a proper comparison of the left smearing McCain? I could think of hundred BDS-inspired covers, some of which regularly appear in Europe. But I just can't come up with anything for McCain.

Is that because the McCain brand is solid or is he just so boring that we don't have anything to say about the guy other than he's old and boring?

Posted by: enozinho on July 14, 2008 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

The cover makes its satirical point well enough by ridiculing not just the purveyors of the silly "rumors" portrayed in the cartoon, but the eager consumers as well. Actually, I don't think they're rumors anymore. You'd have to live in a cave to not know how false the image represented on this cover is. This picture of the Obamas is a wish by a bunch of losers and the cartoon helps drive that point home. It's time to get over the idea that people are getting sucked into "rumors." They're wishing it were true and should be ridiculed on the covers of magazines for being so lame.

Jeebus. Stop hyperventilating. We're supposed to be the side that understands irony and cool stuff.

Posted by: dennisS on July 14, 2008 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

Is that because the McCain brand is solid or is he just so boring that we don't have anything to say about the guy other than he's old and boring?
Posted by: enozinho

The fact that mccain isn't seen as an ignorant, pandering, and unprepared trainwreck is a direct product of the media's ineptitude, and their cowardice at holding repubs to the same standards as they do dems.

This piece of shit is someone who sees america's military as the solution to every single fucking problem in the world; someone who needed lieberman to point out the difference between sunni and shiite after 7 years in afghanistan and/or iraq; someone who proudly claims internet ignorance. He should be a living caricature of a candidate daily, but our media is too afraid of harpies like rush and malkin to treat him as such.

Posted by: Gonads on July 14, 2008 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, when you appear at the netroots "F*K" Panel alongside Amanda Marcotte, I hope you and Atrios and Amanda will discuss her posts regarding Catholics, regarding her review of "Children of Men" and regarding the Duke Students.

Us netroots bloggers and commenters sure circled our wagons around her when she made her statements that others called offensive, and what did Amanda say for herself?

"“My intention is never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs,” Ms. Marcotte wrote, “and I am sorry if anyone was personally offended by writings meant only as criticisms of public politics.”"

That's what's known as a non apology apology of course. "Sorry Kevin, that you were offended at what I wrote."

and

"“The joke was typical of Pandagon’s satirical tone and was intended to mock a common rhetorical ploy of abortion opponents — a hypothetical question and answer — not to mock anyone’s personal faith.”"

Here is some of the very sharp satire that didn't fall flat or need explanations that Amanda wrote and that you defended:

Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?

A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.

and

“The Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal, where god is viewed as so powerful he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman, and women are nothing but vessels.”

and let's not forget how AFTER charges were dropped against the Duke Students, Amanda made this sexist and racist and very ironic and satirical comment:

""Can't a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair.""

So yes Kevin, if in your F*K Panel you and Atrios and Amanda don't compare this offensive cartoon to her statements and compare the blogospheric reaction to it, then your conference participation will have been wasted in a cop out.

Posted by: jerry on July 14, 2008 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's time to get over the idea that people are getting sucked into "rumors." They're wishing it were true and should be ridiculed on the covers of magazines for being so lame.
Jeebus. Stop hyperventilating. We're supposed to be the side that understands irony and cool stuff.
Posted by: dennisS

didn't malkin just convince dunkin donuts that Rachel fucking Ray was wearing jihad-inspired scarf? and didn't it succeed?

americans aren't that bright, and votes are affected by much more shit than just verifiable data. ... just ask the SBVFT or purveyors of Dean's scream.

the fact that YOU get the in-joke doesn't really mean much.

Posted by: Gonads on July 14, 2008 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

dennisS, I'd like to stop "hyperventilating", but the trouble is - as most critics have gone over, as on Countdown and Matthews tonight: Some cheesy apologist (NY Magazine?) was on Chris Matthews, laughing at how could anyone actually believe this stuff, heh - but that's the point, too many Americans actually believe this stuff. Then, it's not really just a joke anymore. Like one guy said, if you have to explain what you're doing - especially to lots of "straight men" in the old sense, it isn't a joke.

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 14, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't vote for a Musselman. We're at war. They want to klll us all.

Posted by: Luther on July 14, 2008 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

You know ... after reading these threads over the last couple of days, I think I'm beginning to see jerry's argument.

jerry's continual bitching about marcotte's statements is at least as much of a blind spot as many of our reactions to this cover. mocking various sects of christians (especially in this country) has never really bothered me, and so the initial statement never seemed lynch-worthy. jerry, clearly, is still wetting himself, as this insult probably cuts closer for him.

jerry doesn't see this cover as insulting to the obamas ... probably, there are many things insulting to blacks and dems which he's insensitive to or unable to see. as a minority and a dem, I'm more primed to see this as offensive, as I see it as damaging to institutions I identify with.

I have some difficulty in how jerry is attempting to equate random blogging sentiments to the cover of a national magazine ... but since he made the comparison, we should probably compare why he's still whining about marcotte but not this cover.

Posted by: Gonads on July 14, 2008 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

At least Obama isn't a mass murdering war criminal who cheats on both of his wives, like McCain....

But, oh yeah, he was in a cage for five years, so that automatically makes him qualified to be president.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 14, 2008 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

At least Obama isn't a mass murdering war criminal who cheats on both of his wives, like McCain....

Actually, I think if the New Yorker illustrated that on their cover, we'd be pretty close to even.

Posted by: enozinho on July 14, 2008 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Good grief! We need a whole lot more satire in this land. Maybe we would never have got where we are if we'd had some serious spearing deflating the fools running this country the last few years.

Now we have to patronize viewers/readers, hit them over the head so they get the right perspective on what they are seeing. They can't recognize satire so we patronize their stupidity, neither of which they recognize. There's irony, which is kind of where we started and which they don't recognize either.

I think I just hit Wonderland!

Boy! Can we all get a sense of humor and get a little smarter.

Posted by: notthere on July 14, 2008 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

Best comment of the day on this topic from Slate.Com, "Only weak thinkers fear strong images."

Posted by: Paul on July 14, 2008 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I don't know about Pandagon, but Atrios and many other blogs get far greater hits each day than our national news. Pandagon is considered a top tier feminist blog and gets lots of hits too.

Marcotte has parlayed her claims of liberalism and of being a victim into:
a) columns at Salon
b) columns at the LA Times
c) columns at the Guardian
d) columns at TPM

Marcotte's statements are close to home, close to the liberal blogosphere. Think globally, act locally. It's far easier for me, or Drum or Atrios or Matt to work to eliminate the hatred and bigotry of Amanda Marcotte than it is for us to work on the hatred at the New Yorker.

It would be hypocritical for us to ignore the bigotry that we permit with blinded eyes. And it opens us up to justifiable attacks from others.

Amanda's reach is far greater than Pandagon as I pointed out. But also in her opinions are some very wrong headed scientific views about Gardasil, and those are views that can lead to real actual physical harm and death amongst prepubescent children. She masks this with her usual nonsense that anyone opposed to Gardasil is a godbag, when actually many reality based parents, scientists, and doctors are opposed to Gardasil.

Regardless of how many times you say it Gonads, most people believe that two wrongs do not make a right, and just because you feel that white men have it all so easy, most people think that bigoted remarks towards the Duke students are still bigoted remarks and should not be endorsed or rewarded. And as proof they look at how the duke student pile-on encouraged by Marcotte and Samhita led to financial ruin for the Duke students, and ruined their academic careers, and they barely escaped and would not have if Marcotte and Samhita's most current statements were what were in control.

Finally, where it hits home for me, is Amanda's homophobia, transphobia, as well as the lies and smears she tells about divorced fathers. I have good friends, my best friends who are homosexual and transgendered, and they let me know with no uncertainty that the remarks that Amanda and her buddies make time and again are disgusting and hurtful and ignorant.

And I can tell you that as I struggle through divorce and court challenges and the constant struggle to maintain a relationship with my daughters, that having lies and smears told about fathers again and again and again at Pandagon and then picked up and repeated throughout the blogosphere, to where it is read by lawyers and judges, and acted on by police and psychologists, well I find all of this pretty goddamned frustrating, and it directly impinges on my pursuit of happiness not to mention due process of law, and equal protection under the law.

But all of that is okay to Amanda, because her documented lies and smears are ironic, or made for a good cause.

I expect more from Kevin and liberal bloggers than putting up with liars and smear merchants who will do nothing in the end for progressive liberal causes. I expect Kevin and liberal bloggers to fight for human rights, to fight for free speech, and to keep a grasp on reality.

I hope that helps. You are of course free to play e-psychiatrist with me as you have already started doing. E-psychiatry is the FIRST refuge of the incompetent, and often the first refuge of the authoritarian as well.

By the way, at it's heart, the use of "whining" directed against a man is a gendered, sexist, homophobic attack. When woman speak what's on their mind, how they have been treated, you refer to that as "speaking truth to power." So why don't you spend more time e-psychiatreating yourself and your need for homophobic and ad hominem attacks than spending your time trying to dehumanize and delegitimize me?

Thanks!

Posted by: jerry on July 14, 2008 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Who is Rachel Ray? I admit a lot of popular culture goes over my head, but it's hard for anybody to not have a decent level of awareness about Barack Obama. I seriously think this whole "rumors are the problem" approach is misguided. They're fever dreams not rumors. These people know it's bunk, they're just hoping other people won't know and they repeat the crap wishfully, and I'm talking ma and pa down the street, not MSM. The more they're ridiculed the better, Swiftboating notwithstanding. This is different partly because of SBVT--- hard to repeat, and timing is different, but also because the Obama campaign has been so effective at telling their own story.

The "cheesy" apologist was Ryan Lizza. I haven't read his article yet, but the rumor I heard is that article hits Obama hard and is the real story in that issue of the NYer.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/21/080721fa_fact_lizza/

I suspect hard is relative and the end result is a portrayl of someone very easy to admire. He's got a solid background. Making him more human by writing about a few failings will only help (and I suspect the NYer knows that.)

Posted by: dennisS on July 14, 2008 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

I think people who complain about complainers wanting the NYer to beat people over the head with the punchline miss the thing Kevin is getting at with this mock-up:

What was the last good caricature/satirical pic where the very subject of said satire was conspicuous by its absence?

Posted by: Kryptik on July 14, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

But also in her opinions are some very wrong headed scientific views about Gardasil, and those are views that can lead to real actual physical harm and death amongst prepubescent children. She masks this with her usual nonsense that anyone opposed to Gardasil is a godbag, when actually many reality based parents, scientists, and doctors are opposed to Gardasil.

jerry ... I'm sorry about your divorce and about your daughters. I'm curious, though, what Marcotte said about Gardisil that makes you think she's dangerous ... dangerous enough for you to attempt to equate her with this racist cover?

Posted by: Gonads on July 14, 2008 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed that Kevin posted something about the Ryan Lizza article and an item about the picture on the cover immediately afterward.

Comments on the second now outnumber comments on the first by over two and a half to one, and many comments on the thread about the article are really about the picture on the cover.

Posted by: Zathras on July 14, 2008 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, you mean the fourth estate is supposed to think about the greater good, rather than just selling mags? Holy crap! What a bunch of irresponsible bullshit! I mean, imagine if they'd failed to fully scrutinize the rationale for a multi-trillion dollar war! With thousands of enlisted dead, and hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians killed! I mean, SHIT, then we'd really take them to task, right!!????
Oh wait, JAG rerun is on. Later, guys.

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on July 14, 2008 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

What was the last good caricature/satirical pic where the very subject of said satire was conspicuous by its absence?

Pretty good point. But, maybe Kevin doesn't quite get who is getting lampooned. Is it McCain or that faceless mob that is wishing so hard for this crazy caricature to take root? How do you fit them into the cartoon? Plus, I suspect enough digging would come up with a fair number of counter-examples. Yet, nice observation.

Posted by: dennisS on July 14, 2008 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

The cover should be a cartoon of the cartoonist apologizing.

Posted by: Swan on July 15, 2008 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Did you ever wonder why it's Obama who is being called Muslim? It's because he's black. It's just another way to say you must be afraid of him because he's black.

Posted by: samirkand on July 15, 2008 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

This is one of the most painful discussions on comedy and satire that I have ever read.

The articles detailing the pending collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer more chuckles than this thread for crissakes.

Posted by: bayville on July 15, 2008 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Obama should capitalize upon this right now with a good-humored response.

The cover is silly and stupid -- but with 3 months to go, its sentiments will be boring old news by the time of the election, and so it will likely serve to inoculate the candidate against these same prejudices.

Obama could turn it to advantage right now by saying something very quick and funny about it, and very short and serious about the prejudices it presumes to satirize.

This response should be aimed at the comprehension level of U.S. high-schoolers, a little less than voting age.

Indeed this sort of thing is a Godsend -- the perfect opportunity to reach out, be human, and put a dent in the stuck poll numbers.

P.S. I haven't bought or read a New Yorker in over 20 years, and still more of this middlebrow cuteness doesn't tempt me!

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold on July 15, 2008 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Overblown, per Bill Maher, John Stewart and many others.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on July 15, 2008 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

After much thought, I think I've come up with something that is roughly equivelant to what the New Yorker calls satire.

http://www.yawnmccain.com/?p=20

For the record, I'm not offended by the cover. I just didn't think it was particularly effected

Posted by: enozinho on July 15, 2008 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the deal:
the cover is offensive [as in it offends people, not necessarily me] because the image that's being drawn in people's minds by Obama's opponents is offensive. the cover illustrates that image with a power that is more than a little disturbing. Much of what makes it disturbing is the history of racialized caricature [minstrelsy and related entertainments]that was the very foundation of our popular culture. You can't look at that cover without seeing the ghost of Amos'n'Andy.

But, I think that that's the point of a cover like that, to make us look at this ugly thing that's being built out of the various whisper campaigns and slanders directed against Obama by a variety of political opponents, mostly (but not entirely) Republicans.

Now, I'd say that maybe the artist and New Yorker editors are guilty of living in too much of a liberal bubble, and maybe of taking for granted that all that crap is so ridiculous that no one could believe it. Certainly they're operating on the assumption that they don't need to tell people that this is a false image. there's a smugness to that assumption that's part of how the new Yorker often addresses its audience.

But if you "remix" it this way it just becomes small and didactic. By laying all this on Mcain, (who certainly stands to profit from the whisper campaign) then you remove the cartoon's ability to comment on what these slanders and rumors (and their success relative to their truth content) say about our culture. By identifying someone else as thinking this you let the audience at large off the hook. We live in a culture where an image like this gains traction easily no matter how counterfactual it is. We are, to some degree or another, complicit in this, and we don't like to be reminded.

Maybe there's a middle ground between trusting the audience to understand that the cartoon is presenting an unreliable narrative and hitting them over the head so hard that the point become small and partisan instead of a broad and cultural statment about how Americans feel about otherness. That's arguable. The idea that this is part of some media campaign to trash Obama however, is idiotic. the New Yorker will have lots of covers that harsh on Mcain, count on it. None of them will be as ambiguously disturbing or culturally critical as this one.

Posted by: Urk on July 15, 2008 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the deal:
the cover is offensive [as in it offends people, not necessarily me] because the image that's being drawn in people's minds by Obama's opponents is offensive. the cover illustrates that image with a power that is more than a little disturbing. Much of what makes it disturbing is the history of racialized caricature [minstrelsy and related entertainments]that was the very foundation of our popular culture. You can't look at that cover without seeing the ghost of Amos'n'Andy.

But, I think that that's the point of a cover like that, to make us look at this ugly thing that's being built out of the various whisper campaigns and slanders directed against Obama by a variety of political opponents, mostly (but not entirely) Republicans.

Now, I'd say that maybe the artist and New Yorker editors are guilty of living in too much of a liberal bubble, and maybe of taking for granted that all that crap is so ridiculous that no one could believe it. Certainly they're operating on the assumption that they don't need to tell people that this is a false image. there's a smugness to that assumption that's part of how the new Yorker often addresses its audience.

But if you "remix" it this way it just becomes small and didactic. By laying all this on Mcain, (who certainly stands to profit from the whisper campaign) then you remove the cartoon's ability to comment on what these slanders and rumors (and their success relative to their truth content) say about our culture. By identifying someone else as thinking this you let the audience at large off the hook. We live in a culture where an image like this gains traction easily no matter how counterfactual it is. We are, to some degree or another, complicit in this, and we don't like to be reminded.

Maybe there's a middle ground between trusting the audience to understand that the cartoon is presenting an unreliable narrative and hitting them over the head so hard that the point become small and partisan instead of a broad and cultural statment about how Americans feel about otherness. That's arguable. The idea that this is part of some media campaign to trash Obama however, is idiotic. the New Yorker will have lots of covers that harsh on Mcain, count on it. None of them will be as ambiguously disturbing or culturally critical as this one.

Posted by: Urk on July 15, 2008 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

oops- sorry for the double post!

Posted by: Urk on July 15, 2008 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

and yes, I'm drunk.

Posted by: enozinho on July 15, 2008 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

I think a lot of parents, liberals and conservatives, scientists and doctors, have good reason to go slowly on gardasil.

It was never proven effective amongst girls that young (how would you test that since it involves a sexually transmitted disease?). It was never given any long term safety testing. The woman in charge of testing it, who thinks it's a good drug, says it is inappropriate to give it to girls that young.

Moreover, the cancer it will cure will attack these kids in 20-30 years. Ask yourself if we should be giving these kids an unproven vaccine for a disease that some of them will get 20-30 years later -- how will medicine advance in 20-30 years in the treatment of this?

Still the best way to detect and treat cervical cancer is through an annual pap smear. And gardasil does nothing to eliminate the need for an annual pap smear.

A feminist blogger has written about this with some terrific gardasil faqs (google evilslutopia gardasil (when I link to it, this post gets held in the queue)

Amanda has gone on record saying not just that gardasil should be available, but that it should be a mandatory vaccination.

Parents and their kids should not have to OPT IN, they should have to OPT OUT.

Now, in various states there are various ways to opt out, usually, religious, philosophical, and medical. But these are not all available in every state and they are treated differently.

In some states,
* you can't opt out for philosophical reasons
* your doctor's medical opt out can be overruled
* your church leader's religious opt out can be overruled

So the irony is that Amanda, who believes (as do I) that the government should stay out of our bedrooms and off our bodies, Amanda actually believes that the government should mandate injections into prepubescent girls. And she'll happily acknowledge that.

She will also delete comments that link to evil slutopia, and ban commenters who bring this up.

Amanda, (and Melisssa McEwan and many other modern radical feminists) will tell you the only people that dislike gardasil are Christian fundamentalists who don't want their children f'ing. (abbrev'd because I never know what triggers the WAMO moderators).

Their point of view is profoundly unscientific, reeks of their political agenda, and to the extent that gardasil does have side effects including paralysis and Guillain Barre' syndrome, their non scientific, non liberal, government authoritarian agenda harms children.

I had Guillain Barre, so I take vaccinations very seriously and have been told to do so not by my Catholic Priests (since I am Jewish) but by Doctors. I have two daughters and I want them to have long lifes and enjoy their sexuality (in age appropriate manners.)

Amanda is just plain horrible on gardasil. Unscientific, government authoritarian, bans people who disagree and then does her characteristic smear on them.

If Kevin, Atrios, Ezra, Matthew or the liberal bloggers actually treated Amanda seriously, and didn't condescend to her because she is a girl, they would tell her to stop her crap, especially as it concerns gardasil.

If you type gardasil into google news, you'll see some odd news stories. Right wing sources like FOX and the Washington Times are reporting that there have been about 8000 complaints of Gardasil since it was approved. It's hard for me to know what to make of that.

Here is a report on the CDC from the CBC:
http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2008/07/07/adversereactions-gardasil.html?ref=rss

There were 31 reported cases of Guillain-Barr syndrome (GBS), a neurological condition that results in temporary but often total body paralysis, with 10 cases confirmed.

Fifteen deaths were also reported, with 10 of these containing the level of information required for further analysis, according to the CDC.

"After careful review of those reports, we could not establish the causal relationship between vaccination and death," reads the VAERS report.

The report notes that when Gardasil was being tested in the U.S. before being licensed, 10 individuals who were in the group that received the vaccine died, and seven in the placebo group died. None of these deaths were considered vaccine-related.

The stories being told right now are similar to what we hear about autism and vaccinations, and those stories have been *mostly* debunked.

There is a Berkeley girl who tells a story very similar to a Guillain Barre story. Had a gardasil injection, and shortly afterwards suffered horrible neurological impacts -- she's basically paralyzed and dying.

It's hard to know how closely related that is to the injection. The law of large numbers says that some people will get ill and it may just be coincidence. But the symptoms are strikingly similar.

To me the appalling part is that this 13 year old girl received a vaccine for a cancer she would might never get, and if she did get, it would be 20-30 years from now. Again, how far would science and medicine advance?

Guillain Barre is no laughing matter. (In fact, Joseph Heller who wrote Catch-22 describes his experience with Guillain Barre in the book, "No Laughing Matter". It's a terrific and very funny book.)

If GBS doesn't kill you outright by paralyzing your lungs, you will probably recover, mostly, in about two years with much of that in various states of paralysis.

How far has cancer treatment come in the past 20-30 years? How far will it go by the time these kids encounter cervical cancer?

Shame on Kevin for allowing Amanda's bigotry and authoritarian and illiberal points of view to stand unchallenged.

Posted by: jerry on July 15, 2008 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

The only thing missing from the New Yorker cover is the watermelon and the basket of fried chicken. Oh, and an innocent-looking blonde with a black hand over her mouth.

Well, if this cover is supposed to satirize what the wingnut Right really thinks, then why didn't they include those elements?

Just sayin'.

Posted by: jim on July 15, 2008 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

Well, if this cover is supposed to satirize what the wingnut Right really thinks, then why didn't they include those elements?

I don't think they have to include those elements to satire what the right-wing thinks, but I think you have a point that what they put on the cover was not necessarily worse than the most nasty racist images we could imagine a racist using on a billboard or a t-shirt.

I think it's only the fact that a prominent, upper-class magazine like the New Yorker is trying to pass it all off as kosher that is keeping people from seeing the cartoon as being about as bad as the images you suggest.

Posted by: Swan on July 15, 2008 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Good grief! We need a whole lot more satire in this land. Maybe we would never have got where we are if we'd had some serious spearing deflating the fools running this country the last few years.
Posted by: notthere

I guess you don't read Doonesbury or have never seen the work of David Horsey of the Seattle PI. He won a Pulitzer last year, mostly for work skewering Shrub.

This is his answer to the New Yorker.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/horsey/viewbydate.asp?ID=1792

This series compares Shrub to the Romans near the fall of the empire.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/horsey/empirerising/

Posted by: Jeff I on July 15, 2008 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

No - it's not going to change anyone's mind. The kind of depressing part, though - a whole lot of attention went to this and the people who should have been shamed are, in fact, shameless. So they sailed on their merry ways. Points to Jonah Goldberg for (again) looking clueless by saying it looked like something that could have been in his magazine, the National Review. Yes, that was the point. Thanks for the confession.

Meanwhile, Obama had an op-ed on Iraq. Frank Rich had a great but troubling column Sunday on how torture can make us less safe. The head of the AP was emailing Karl Rove, repeating empty homilies about Pat Tillman. Jim Rogers says the
Fannie Mae plan is a disaster.

And so on.

Crazy, I tell ya. Maybe this is comic relief, after all.

Posted by: Miss Otis on July 15, 2008 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

Amanda's reach is far greater than Pandagon as I pointed out. Posted by: jerry

Don't think so, Jerry. I've never even heard of her, and you seem to be, like many in the pro-web news camp, over-estimating the influence of things that are found on the Internet when the fact of the matter is that the trickle down is minimal, and the only people affected intellectually/emotionally by things published in blogs are the like are people who are already reading them.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 15, 2008 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

If you thought the response from the muslim world was outrageous at western free speech (targeted at their Prophet), there is lot less to be offended here (satire targeting a Presidential Candidate).

I'm pointing this out for perspective...

Pretty confusing perspective, though, since the point of the cover was precisely NOT satire of a presidential candidate, but satire of his opponents' depiction of him. But given how confused the whole spectrum of reaction to the thing is, I suppose attempts at clarification that further muddy the waters are to be expected.

Posted by: DrBB on July 15, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

I hope that helps. You are of course free to play e-psychiatrist with me as you have already started doing. E-psychiatry is the FIRST refuge of the incompetent, and often the first refuge of the authoritarian as well.

Perhaps, but you'd get a lot less of this if your posts didn't consistently include details of your own difficulties negotiating the obstacles life presents you, your near-constant anger as a result of this, and your patent inability to consider any issue except as it relates to your own apparently narrow experience and interests.

Posted by: on July 15, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

If you have to "diagram" the joke, it ain't a joke.

And Linda Wirtheimer called me "irony impaired".

Sigh.

Posted by: Steve on July 15, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

It was never proven effective amongst girls that young (how would you test that since it involves a sexually transmitted disease?). It was never given any long term safety testing.

That isn't quite true. Two* of the phase I trials involved boys and girls ages 9-15. Those tested for seroconversion and positive immune response to the 4 types of HPV tested, with safety data for 1 year follow up.

The 4 or 5 phase II and III trials were done in 16-23 year olds, mostly. They followed efficacy and safety data for ~5 years. These trials consistently and conclusively demonstrated gardisil prevented high grade cervical lesions associated with cancer-causing HPV types nearly perfectly (>97%).

*Reisinger KS, et al. Safety and persistent immunogenicity of a quadrivalent human papillomavirus types 6, 11, 16, 18 L1 virus-like particle vaccine in preadolescents and adolescents: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2007; 26:201–9.

*Block SL, et al. Comparison of the immunogenicity and reactogenicity of a prophylactic quadrivalent human papillomavirus (types 6, 11, 16, and 18) L1 virus-like particle vaccine in male and female adolescents and young adult women. Pediatrics 2006; 118:2135–45.

Moreover, the cancer it will cure will attack these kids in 20-30 years. Ask yourself if we should be giving these kids an unproven vaccine for a disease that some of them will get 20-30 years later -- how will medicine advance in 20-30 years in the treatment of this?

You don't get pap smears, and you won't get cervical cancer. Your cancer will be on external and easily identifiable regions. I would definitely recommend this cancer-preventing vaccine.

Still the best way to detect and treat cervical cancer is through an annual pap smear. And gardasil does nothing to eliminate the need for an annual pap smear.
Posted by: jerry on July 15, 2008 at 1:20 AM

For now. If the incidence of cervical cancer decreases after widespread use of the vaccine, and we see lower incidences of it, then perhaps we can screen this population, or eventually the whole population, at a markedly reduced frequency. That's why scientists do studies.

Vaccines are a money-losing venture, btw. MDs pay to store and buy them, with low payout from Medicaid and insurance companies which barely cover overhead. My colleagues would make less money NOT storing vaccines. They store, recommend, and give them because they are one of the few things medical science has gotten right, and because they don't want to see women dying of cancer because of their target populations' parents are ill-informed, ignorant, misogynistic, or lazy.

Posted by: Gonads on July 15, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

This cover is a visual representation of the right wing's hateful, irrational, character asassinations of the Obamas.

Posted by: leslie on July 15, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter NewYorker:
"We're just messin' with you, man!"

Posted by: smott on July 15, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

As a long-time subscriber of The New Yorker, I am looking forward to next week’s cover illustration and the puzzled public reaction. The uninitiated, expecting another radical political cartoon, are most likely going to be surprised.

99% of the covers of The New Yorker are whimsical, thought-provoking, and artistic. My favorite cover illustrator is J.J. Sempe, a French artist whose cartoons are described by Wikipedia as sweet, sentimental, and gentle. Kevin, as a cat lover, you might like his featured cartoon print, currently for sale at this website. It is called, Cat’s Night Out.

http://www.cartoonbank.com/prints_sempe.asp

I was getting tired of the obvious favoritism of the magazine towards Obama during the primary and was considering dropping my subscription. But, after witnessing the hysterical, over-the-top, reaction to the Obama cover, I will never cancel.

Posted by: emmarose on July 15, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Does Mr. Drum have any factual evidence that John Mc Cain would want a cover like that of the Obamas in the New Yorker? Senator Mc Cain has repetedly and publicly chastised people for bringing up such allusions to religion. Does Mr. Drum take issue with the cartoon in Rolling Stone, where Senator Mc Cain was depicted in a cage as a prisoner of war? Hopefully not. But, by his current guidlines, why not? After all, taking umbrage is the new flavor of this political season.

Posted by: Joseph Dirvin on July 15, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Right, emmarose. Because if anyone's known how to milk an over-the-top, hysterical reaction to virtually everything throughout this election season, it's you.

Posted by: shortstop on July 15, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Orwell: Leftists can't take an obvious joke that righties know isn't a joke.

Bwa!

Posted by: shortstop on July 15, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Is there any evidence that John McCain wants to run on this basis?

"Suzanne Kurtz, communications director for the Republican Jewish Coalition, spent her afternoon knowingly misleading -- if not downright lying -- to reporters."

Posted by: Brojo on July 15, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's weakness is that he is black. The repubs can't swift boat black, that would not be acceptable.

You are witnessing how they are going to remind us every chance they get that Barack, and especially Michelle, is black. They are going to use "humor", since that is OK.

Rigggggght.

What the hell is she doing in the picture anyway. Oh, that's right, she's the BLACK one.

How many other presidential candidates' wive's have gotten the kind of exposure as Michelle Obama: none; and that includes Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Dole, who were high profile political people.

Michelle Obama has not played a major role in her husband's campaign, but every thing she does gets media attention. Hmmmmmm.

Posted by: says you on July 15, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Wonder how many people who defended MoveOn's "General Betrayus" ad (myself included) are attacking the New Yorker Obama cover (not me.)

Do readers really expect the New Yorker to cater to the sensibilities of Rush Limbaugh's audience? It's the New Yorker, not the Peoria, folks! Or does anyone seriously believe that the ultra-right is dependent on the New Yorker for bogus images and material it can use to smear Obama? If so, maybe that should be the subject of another cover.

By taking offense, the Obama campaign missed an amazing opportunity to point out exactly what this cover is all about.

Posted by: InSanity on July 15, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

It may be that the editorial section of New Yorker has been hitting Obama with mean-spirited comics for awhile. Check out this very accurate Red State Update take:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=7YiNw5AMshg

It's worth a look even if you aren't a RSU fan.

Posted by: mirror on July 15, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff I, but Horsey drew that for the "irony challenged" so we probably do need more of it. Or classes. The fact that so may misinterpret this characiture either themselves or on behalf of those they feel will not get it I think proves the point.

One of the big faults of the US press is their defference to authority, particularly the Presidency, and it doesn't help democracy at all.

Posted by: on July 15, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Pretty good caricature of McCain.

Posted by: Raoul Paste on July 15, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's weakness is that he is black.

How is that a weakness?

Posted by: ckelly on July 15, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Does this "new and improved" cover kevin thought up have much to do with reality (note that that question is independent of the question of whether or not the original cover had much relation to reality... I lean towards no)? The answer is no. McCain scolds the living hell out of any Republican that uses Barracks middle name.

Posted by: scottynx on July 15, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

scottynx and other commenters who have pointed out that the kevinized cover would be even further from any defensible reality than the original are obviously correct. That being the case, there is still the important question: Why didn't the New Yorker coordinate better with the Obama campaign and run exactly a kevinized cover (or one like it)?

This kind of thing never would have happened in the midst of either of Bill Clinton's campaigns, when the campaign staffs made sure they saw some version of (and had the opportunity to comment on) essentially ALL significant items published by liberal mainstream media outlets. In this case the liberal, pro-Obama New Yorker played a key role in screwing their own candidate with the ill considered cover that the Obama campaign never even saw before it was published. The New Yorker essentially functioned like a rogue pro-Obama 527 outfit. Amateur hour efforts at the Obama campaign - clumsy, counterproductive efforts - made matters much worse for Obama by distracting attention from the pro-Obama article in favor of the ambiguous cover, a cover which the fussing Obamaites ensured ended up being circulated by republication in every major media outlet in the country to millions of people UNACCOMPANIED BY THE ARTICLE.

The entire performance warrants a new bumper sticker: The Obama Campaign: Stuck on "STUPID!" The way the Obama campaign handled this mess, it won't be surprising if they distribute that one themselves.

Posted by: Terry Hughes on July 15, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's curious that no one yet mentioned the title of the cover, given just inside as "The politics of fear". That pretty well explains the point, even though much criticism is well-enough founded. Not only that, there were good serious articles inside about Obama which in effect countered the silly cover. But it's still a bit teeth gritting even though I can't help snickering at it.

PS: Newsweek has some great pieces about Obama this week, including his faith. Maybe it's a sort of scheme, to stir up interest in "the real thing." I hope it works like that.

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 15, 2008 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

I pictured the same thing, but with McCain and Rove in bed together, sharing the same cloud-dream.

Posted by: Kenji on July 15, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

People have said that visual caricature is much harder to pull off than televised or staged (or, today, YouTubed) shtick, because the caricaturist cannot provide the subtext by his or her subliminal cues to the audience. Even live, Sarah Silverman-type humor treads a thin line.

(How bad most people's attempts to be funny can be is displayed now by YouTube videos; before, comedy was subjected to the ruthlessly Darwinian winnowing process of live, paying theater, and bad jokes were confined to one's family and friends.)

A drawing is just out there; there are no cues (well, the title). It's easy to be merely cruel in a drawing, as I found when I tried drawing caricatures as a teenager.

But I'm not apologizing for the New Yorker. The choice of the cover is a Gawker-ization, a nadir point of decline that began when Tina Brown took the magazine over. I'm keeping the subscription, because individual articles are often wonderful, and I don't want to lose Seymour Hersh, but I would just as soon rip these articles out and make a compendium.

Posted by: sara on July 15, 2008 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

This is great.
Much more to the point with a clearer message.

Posted by: ModDem on July 15, 2008 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

The political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow has a response: http://thismodernworld.com/4402 .

Posted by: Barry Deutsch on July 16, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

My copy arrived yesterday. Quite late. One thing that should be mentioned is Obama is looking not at his wife but at the viewer, which changes the point of view. Obama is looking at the viewer as if to say, what a crock of shit politics has become in America.

Posted by: Brojo on July 18, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Actually my copy arrived a day early. Forgot the previous edition was a twofer.

Posted by: on July 19, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

This would be a better New Yorker cover featuring McCain.

Posted by: Brojo on July 19, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

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