So I guess we’ve all heard the flap about the Obama cartoon on the cover of The New Yorker.
My first thought when the cartoon was described to me (I only just saw it for myself this morning) was that the GOP submarine machine must have paid someone some important money to create and publish something so abhorrent and out of line on the cover of a national magazine. It appeared to be a sly, sophisticated, almost subliminal form of “Swift-Boating”—a political weapon invented and honed by Karl Rove (although I’m sure you’ll never hear him take the blame—I mean credit—for the maneuver…)
But something doesn’t quite ring “Right Wingnut” about this New Yorker thing. It’s too sophisticated. No doubt the Republican smear-meisters would love to have thought of it; and they’re secretly thanking someone for all the mileage they’ll be getting out of it. But their thought processes just don’t tend toward the subtle. They’re much more about in-your-face pandering to the not-so-secret prejudices and fears of the American Everyman.
No, I’m thinking this is a case of the uber-educated left wing having their heads so high in the stratosphere of sophisticated humor that they have left the planet upon which the other 99.99% of Americans reside. They seem unaware that in this age of You-tube and sound-bytes, all most people are going to absorb of this oh-so-witty satirical cartoon is an image of Barack Obama in Muslim garb on the cover of a national magazine. Even I thought, at first, that the kind of people who read The New Yorker would not be likely to miss the point, so how much harm could it do?
But, here’s the thing. Joe Hayseed may live out in the back of beyond, but he has a computer and an internet connection, by golly. Satire, sarcasm, tongue-in-cheek? They are completely lost on him. Why else does he base his political beliefs on the gospel according to Rush Limbaugh? And I can just picture him, yesterday, pointing to his monitor and crowing, “See Martha? I told ya he was one o’ them Muslims. I told ya!”
So The New Yorker editors poke their heads out of the portholes of the Starship Mensa, look down their noses upon the unwashed masses and huff, “Tsk! It was a joke! It was satire. It was Mark Twain...Jon Stewart...Stephen Colbert...!”
Sorry guys. Any idiot knows that a joke isn’t funny if you have to explain it.