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Monday, July 14, 2008

That awful New Yorker cover is just so unfair to Obama!

Memo to all Obama supporters so outraged about the cover that they are spending hours blogging, commenting, and otherwise fulminating about it:

Please put your computers on standby, get up out of your chairs, and go spend the time instead campaigning or registering voters. But if you insist on sitting there, read editor David Remnick's interview on the Huffington Post or Andrew Hunt's blog post on the subject. And THEN get off your asses and do something constructive rather than whining over every little perceived insult to poor Obambi.

Addendum: I elaborated a bit on my attitude in the comments section in response to a post from Anne, but some readers might not see that--so here is what I said:

I fully understand why bloggers and other Obama supporters are complaining. My point is that true free speech requires that anyone be able to publish and express themselves in any way they wish, satirically, offensively, or otherwise, and nowadays people spend just too much time telling other people what they should and should not say. It leads to huge hypocrisy, because everyone ends up dishonestly apologizing for saying what they really mean (the Jesse Jackson episode is a good example.) Let everyone say what they want to say, and move on, rather than all this finger wagging and scolding nonstop.

Update: The New York Times publishes a piece today about how difficult comedians are finding it to make jokes about Obama. Here are a key couple of grafs:

Why? The reason cited by most of those involved in the shows is that a fundamental factor is so far missing in Mr. Obama: There is no comedic “take” on him, nothing easy to turn to for an easy laugh, like allegations of Bill Clinton’s womanizing, or President Bush’s goofy bumbling or Al Gore’s robotic persona.

“The thing is, he’s not buffoonish in any way,” said Mike Barry, who started writing political jokes for Johnny Carson’s monologues in the waning days of the Johnson administration and has lambasted every presidential candidate since, most recently for Mr. Letterman. “He’s not a comical figure,” Mr. Barry said.

The truth is, Obama supporters don't realize how good they have it. Their candidate weathered Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and all sorts of other setbacks to beat Hillary Clinton decisively, and their candidate is polling 4-12% (depending on the poll) ahead of McCain despite the much ballyhooed and much repeated claim that 10% of Americans think he is a Muslim (racists don't usually vote for Democrats anyway, remember?) Frankly, too many people are just too thin-skinned these days, and that goes for some of the Obama supporters who are screaming the loudest about this New Yorker cover. Meanwhile, their candidate, while not happy, is keeping a stiff upper lip and carrying on. Isn't that the kind of president we want? If so, we need his followers to be just as tough.

More on the New Yorker cover: From James Rainey in the Los Angeles Times, who says that Obama supporters are suffering from an "irony deficiency." Please read it.

Obama and Afghanistan: The New York Times also carries a sobering story about the Taliban attack on a NATO outpost that caused the death of 9 American soldiers. The article makes clear that U.S. and Afghan troops are being deployed out in isolated areas where they are very vulnerable. The U.S. is in big trouble in Afghanistan, the kind of trouble that sending thousands of additional troops is not necessarily going to solve. Just ask the Russians. At the moment, Obama has no good ideas about what to do in Afghanistan other than draw down troops from Iraq and send them into this new brewing quagmire. His supporters, and all Americans, should be very worried about this.

More on Afghanistan: And the wisdom, or lack of it, of shifting the war effort there from Iraq, in a commentary by Tom Hayden in The Nation.

8 comments:

Anne Gilbert said...

Before you criticize bloggers for complaining about the latest New Yorker cover, perhapsy you might want to read this post from Alternet, which explains why they're complaining.

http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/91355/?ses=b2db06f9eac297ff1244c609c1a446fc

I thinkk the Alternet piece makes a good case.

And just to make sure you don't misunderstand, I do happen to agree with you that everyone who supports Obama for our next president, should go out and do everything they can to get him elected!
Anne G

Michael Balter said...

Anne, thanks for your comment. I fully understand why bloggers and other Obama supporters are complaining. My point is that true free speech requires that anyone be able to publish and express themselves in any way they wish, satirically, offensively, or otherwise, and nowadays people spend just too much time telling other people what they should and should not say. It leads to huge hypocrisy, because everyone ends up dishonestly apologizing for saying what they really mean (the Jesse Jackson episode is a good example.) Let everyone say what they want to say, and move on, rather than all this finger wagging and scolding nonstop.

Anne Gilbert said...

I saw the David Horsey cartoon this morning. Because I live in Seattle, and so does Horsey, I see a lot of his cartoons a lot of the time. But Horsey is a good satirist. The trouble with the New Yorker cover is, that it just isn't good satire. It was, um, misdirected, if I can put it that way.

Responding to your other point about true free speech, I agree with you there, too. All kinds of speech should be protected --- even bad satire like the New Yorker cover. But the problem of people telling others what they should and should not say, actually stems from the far right's "culture wars", when some people scream "political correctness" when they end up hearing something they just don't want to hear. I've seen plenty of examples of this, both on and off the web, the latest being a piece written at the height of the "culture wars", by some librarian, about historical literature for young people. I blogged about it, and if you're interested, you can read the blog piece(though I didn't really get into this angle of it directly at
The Writer's Daily Grind at http://www.writersdailygrind.blogspot.com.

I think it's titled "Good Writing, Bad Writing", and has a link to the actual piece. If you click on the link, you will see the article, and you will see what I mean.

Again, just to be sure you don't misunderstand me, I tend to agree with much of what you say, and, as I said, free speech, even "bad" free speech, should be rigorously defended.
Anne G

Michael Balter said...

Thanks, Anne, I think we're on the same page here. I guess I think the most appropriate reaction to the New Yorker cover might have been that of Obama, who shrugged his shoulders and said nothing! Or, at most, "wow, what a poor piece of satire." And then get on with the campaign.

Richard said...

Obama's no saint, and over the next few months you're going to see him tacking to the middle, the left, right and centre, as he follows his pollsters' advice.

That's if something bad doesn't happen to him before the Democratic Convention, so the Mad Woman steps into his place.

The New Yorker cover was infantile and disgusting; there wasn't anything satirical about it; it was plain prattish prejudice.

I would like to see the New Yorker follow with a similar cover by the same artist (not very good, but the pics should match) that shows a senile ex-POW saying gabba-gabba-gabba to his captors, with a side-bar to tell us how he wants to colonise the Middle East for the next 100 years.

The American Project for the Next Century is dead in the water.

What's needed is someone who realises that.

I don't have much faith in either Obama or McCain.

In the rest of the world, we'll just have to put up with whatever stupid things the American Empire does in its last flailings, and hope we don't get too much affected personally.
best regards

Richard Parker
Siargao Island, Philippines
www.coconutstudio.com
http://austronesiancounting.wordpress.com/
http://smallislandnotes.blogspot.com/

BradyDale said...

This whole fight is so tedious. The cover is awesome. I got the joke as soon as I saw it. I'm going to vote for Obama even if I do think he's a pansy.

The joke obviously pokes fun at anyone so silly that they actually think he's a Muslim Extremist and at the notion that one could make it to that high office.

I got it as soon as I saw it. I laughed. It's funny.

Do people really believe that the people at The New Yorker aren't total Obama supporters? Seriously? This was making fun of the people who called their greeting a "terrorist fist jab."

Folks need to get over themselves.

Richard said...

After 9/11 happened, a huge majority of Americans thought 'the Eyerackis done it' following exactly what the Cheneys, Perles and Wolfowitzes wanted them to think, helped a great deal by Fox News and good old Wolf Blitzer at CNN, (an ex-employee of AIPAC).

I don't think, bradydale, that the majority of Americans have your good sense, or even have any kind of a sense of irony.

They'll see an Islamic nigger, and his 'terrorist left wing' nigger wife on the front cover of one of the most prestigious magazines in the country.

The 'ironical' (See? ....I'm only telling everyone they're wrong in thinking this is anything like the truth...) is crap, drawn with such clumsiness and haste that it should have been thrown out when it arrived.

The picture editor (for accepting such junk) and the editor of the New Yorker should be given their pink slips immediately.

I have, in hand, a cartoon drawn about a senile old fart, serially divorced, whose paternity got him good treatment in Vietnam, after he effed up his naval career by crashing his plane in the wrong place yet again.

It will show him and his 'Vietnamese Friend' and at least one of his cancer-victim wives in washed-out scabby water colour.

Can you help me flog it to the 'New Yorker'?

terryt said...

I was impressed that Obama bit his lip when McCain was on about being more experienced than Obama as a wartime leader.

McCain's experience of war was during a war The US lost, and was spent as a prisoner. Great credentials. I guess if anyone in the Obama camp pointed this out it would be considered poor taste and would scuttle his chances of election.