The cover of the upcoming issue of the New Yorker (by Barry Blitt) shows Barack and Michelle Obama done up as Osama bin Laden and Angela Davis respectively, celebrating their seizure of the White House with an American flag burning in the fireplace above which hangs a portrait of the actual bin Laden. The joke (I think?) is supposed to be at the expense of the paranoid Right. But in the end all the wrong targets get slimed. That’s what happens with lazily conceived art.
Those on the non-paranoid Right should be thankful. We should be thankful that someone gives shape to the cartoonish imaginings of the unimaginative Left. How valuable to see the full inventory of the opposition’s shortcomings. For example, on May 10, 2004, the cover of the New Yorker bared an illustration of an oil derrick spurting not oil but blood over Middle Eastern sands. We knew then that the Left’s best argument against the Iraq War was as hysterical and unlettered as its worst. And after President Bush introduced the troop surge, the New Yorker ran an April 9, 2007 cover illustration showing 1040 tax forms folded into paper tanks and fighter plans. We could then confirm that the intelligent Left was not serious about the War.That the New Yorker crowd thinks the main issue of Barack Obama’s candidacy is one of racist rightwing demonization is, for a GOP strategist, a heartening revelation. It means the Left is blind to Obama’s non-cartoonish problems: his inexperience, his gaffe-based policies, his abysmal judgment, and the motivation behind his flip-flops, to name a few. The most salient Obama issue is not that the Right suspects him of militant Islamism, but rather that the entire electorate is beginning to wonder what he’s made of. In assuming that the serious Right seeks to burlesque Obama as the embodiment of our anti-American nightmares, the New Yorker burlesques itself. They are broadcasting a lack of understanding of both their opposition and their own candidate. Just as they were proved wrong in casting the Iraq War as a blood-soaked oil grab and proved wrong about the troop surge being a waste of tax payer money, so they will be proved wrong about this.