Obama On The Cover of The New Yorker

The above cover from The New Yorker has received quite a bit of publicity and comment. It is clearly meant as a satire of all the right wing misconceptions and smears about Obama, and I did find it amusing. Many other are offended, and it is understandable that the Obama campaign felt it to be necessary to issue a statement condemning it. If he failed to do so, there would inevitably be some saying that Obama considered this an accurate portrayal.

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, was interviewed by The Huffington Post and had this to say:

I ran the cover because I thought it had something to say. What I think it does is hold up a mirror to the prejudice and dark imaginings about Barack Obama’s — both Obamas’ — past, and their politics. I can’t speak for anyone else’s interpretations, all I can say is that it combines a number of images that have been propagated, not by everyone on the right but by some, about Obama’s supposed “lack of patriotism” or his being “soft on terrorism” or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers. That somehow all this is going to come to the Oval Office.

To some degree reaction to the cover depends upon one’s view as to the intelligence of those seeing it. One problem is that while readers of The New Yorker are likely to pick up on the satire, those in the general population who see it due to being publicized by the media might not. Unfortunately the same people who are susceptible to the whisper campaign about Obama are the ones who would interpret this as an accurate portrayal of what they believe is the real Obama. It might have been more effective if this was portrayed as the thought balloon of a conservative, or shown as coming up in someone’s email box.

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  1. 1
    Jerry says:

    The likely result will be opposite of the supposed intent. Good satire educates but bad satire simply belittles little minds. This satire will not inform anyone; those who “get it” have already gotten it, and those who don’t will only take this as a vindication.  Sadly, there are large blocks of the country that believe some or all of this imagery.  This does nothing to help that and will probably make it worse.
    The editor claimed to be incapable of speaking for anyone else’s response, but it’s his job to anticipate reactions. That is a critical part of what an editor’s job should be. He failed and the magazine failed.  They did their job badly and should apologize and move on.  But they won’t.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, this cover certainly will not wind up educating anyone.

  3. 3
    Michael says:

    Satire – the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.

    This cover is not satire. Nor is it funny.


  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    It is satire as long as you realize it is a comment on right wing smears on Obama, and not Obama himself.

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