Thursday, July 17, 2008

Obama responds to New Yorker satire cartoon

The cover of the July 21 issue of the New Yorker magazine has caused a stir in the political circuit and prompted reprimand from the Obama campaign. The magazine depicts the presumptive Democratic nominee for President and his wife in a decidedly anti-American cartoon. Illustrator Barry Blitt drew the Illinois senator wearing traditional Muslim garb while his wife, Michelle, is in fatigues, sporting a big afro, and has an AK-47 slung over her shoulder. A portrait of terrorist Osama Bin Laden hangs on the wall of what appears to be the Oval Office - above the fireplace in which an American flag is burning. The two are engaged in the now infamous "fist bump" - which has been referred to as a "terrorist fist jab" in less flattering circles.

The candidate is now responding to the cover, calling it an unsuccessful attempt at satire that will likely fuel misconceptions he has long battled over the course of his presidential campaign, reports Obama, however, attempted to downplay the toon's overall impact. "It's a cartoon ... and that's why we've got the First Amendment," Obama said. "And I think the American people are probably spending a little more time worrying about what's happening with the banking system and the housing market, and what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, than a cartoon. So I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it. I've seen and heard worse," he said. "I do think that in attempting to satirize something, they probably fueled some misconceptions about me instead. But that was their editorial judgment."

The cover drew heavy criticism from both political parties after it circulated on the Internet over the weekend. Both presidential campaigns immediately condemned the magazine, calling the illustration "tasteless and offensive." In an interview with CNN's Larry King, Obama also pointed out the implicit insult to Muslim Americans in the magazine cover. "You know, there are wonderful Muslim Americans all across the country who are doing wonderful things," the presidential candidate said. "And for this to be used as sort of an insult, or to raise suspicions about me, I think is unfortunate. And it's not what America's all about."

David Remnick, the longtime editor of the publication, said Monday he believes the ironic intent of the illustration -- to satirize misconceptions about Obama -- will be clear to most Americans, according to reports.

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