July 15, 2008

It’s Satire, for Goodness’ Sake

After taking a gander at this week's controversial cover of The New Yorker, few readers will likely come away thinking that Barack Obama is a card-carrying member of the Osama Fan Club, or that Michelle Obama is bucking to become the next Huey Newton.

In fact, the cover - which rolled every kooky right-wing stereotype about the Illinois senator into one satirical cartoon - stoked the ire of the Obama campaign.

" . . . Most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive," campaign spokesman Bill Burton said. "And we agree."

"It" included the American flag burning in the Oval Office fireplace as Osama bin Laden beamed down from above the mantle. Obama is clad in traditional Muslim dress, sharing a fist-bump with his wife, outfitted in revolutionary gear with an Afro and a machine gun.

In a campaign that has featured more mutual condemnations than stump speeches, the McCain campaign quickly released a statement of agreement with the Obama campaign, calling the cartoon "tasteless and offensive."

So everyone's irked, reader comments had soared into the thousands by Monday afternoon at the Huffington Post, and The New Yorker is reaping the publicity. The irony, though, is that the cartoon was clearly intended to benefit the Obama campaign. Artist Barry Blitt dubbed his creation "The Politics of Fear," intending to lampoon every rumor that's been unleashed to make voters question the patriotism of Obama.

As sensitivity takes center stage in the latest campaign face- off, satire - long a key player in the political arena - is the loser.

Originally published by Rocky Mountain News.

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