July 15, 2008
Is it funny?
As a long-time (OK, fairly long-time) subscriber to the New Yorker, I look forward to the cartoons almost as much as Seymour Hersh's analysis of the Bush war machine. As Bill Maher said, "If you can't do irony on the cover of the New Yorker, where can you do it?"
Something different is happening and I suspect you are as confused as I am. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
My concern began at a reception last week, before the cover appeared, where lots of bright progressives gathered. The conversation seemed focused less on Barack's dash to the middle of the road than on the question of whether a black man can be elected president in white America. I can report that there was genuine fear that the answer is no, and I suspect that fear is driving the reaction to the New Yorker cover "cartoon."
Are you angry with the magazine that piles up in your computer room week after guilty week, filled with unread but superb fiction? Or, as I think more likely, do you fear that the Swift-Boat-Willy Horton TV spots produced by the Karl Roves of politics are given a green light to smear the Obama family as they hide behind the New Yorker cover?
The thought of the Democratic nominee losing while the economy is in free fall, the Iraqi government is saying "Yankee Go Home," and the "good war" in Afghanistan looks more and more like a disaster, is damned scary. John McCain? C'mon.
But the signs of panic are around. I think that all the talk about the Clinton's debt, the goofy fundraising for the Democratic Convention, and even shock and awe at the New Yorker cover should cease. The goal is not to pay off Mark Penn. The goal is the White House. Eyes on the prize, folks.
Oh, yes, it is OK to laugh at the New Yorker. (Jon Stewart said you can even laugh at Obama.) As kids used to say, "Why so tense?"
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