The Cartoon

You know, I was upset when I first saw this cover. Wait.

First I laughed. And then I thought about those who believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim and that Michelle Obama is a Black Nationalist (which I am, there is nothing anti-American about that) and that neither of them respects the American flag and I became upset at the New Yorker.

What right did they have to portray a candidate for national office in such light and what other candidate had they so subjected to such satire?

I jotted down some phrases to describe my feelings and I sent them to the Editors.

And then I sat back and watch a full day's coverage of people denouncing this cover on cable news. And during that long day's worth if inanities, a new day began to dawn and the beauty of this cover was revealed unto me. The conversion point - the point at which I not only felt this was a good cover but that I was glad it was published - was when I saw John McCain going before a television camera and recite the Obama campaign talking points: "this cartoon is offensive and tasteless".

So what was it about seeing McCain's grim intonation of Obama's words (they're just words, after all; what can they do?) that changed my viewpoint?

McCain's latest biography add - created by Karl Rove alum Steve Schmitt - incorporates much of the same messages of this cartoon in the classic, Republican tradition of saying things without directly saying things.

How appropriate it is that we are just ten days into the post Jesse Helms-era, as he - perhaps more than any other Dixiecrat - brought coded messages of racism into our political advertisements and our national media. It was Jesse Helms who used a simple shot of a white man's hands opening and then crumpling a letter to send a message against affirmative action directly and at the same time, reaching back to the origins of the KKK and sending a coded message about the encroachment of that most dangerous "other" into land where he was not welcome.

So what messages does McCain send in his latest biography add?

"It was 1968, the Summer of Love . . . " - intones the baritone, male voice, over images of hippies (Barack Obama is just like those dirty hippies - and you know they we not patriotic)

"But it was another form of love shown by one young POW . . . " - here is that narrator again, now introducing our hero (John McCain is "The American President the American People have been waiting for", as another ad informed us)

I will not brainwash you with the rest of the claptrap contained in this ad from McCain/Rove/Bush, suffice it to say that it indirectly impugns Obama's patriotism (just like the burning flag in the cartoon) ties Obama to the old battles of the Sixties (just like the Black Panther gear on Michelle in the cartoon) and I am sure it has a reference to God and McCain's faith - which would close the loop on the "he's a secret Muslim" trifecta.

All of the tropes of the McCain campaign's latest ad are satirized in the cover cartoon of this week's New Yorker. And here was McCain saying all of it was "offensive and tasteless".

Ladies and Gentlemen: spread the word far and wide that we - the American people - have before us a candidate who shall not fall down before the slimy tactics embraced by the Republican Party in their relentless quest for power and ill-gotten gain. They say it is always darkest before the dawn, but I think I just saw the sun beginning to peak over the horizon.

I think I will go outside and rejoice in this new day.

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