Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

The drawing of the Obamas is an advertising ploy the tobacco companies have been using for some time. The liberal magazine, The New Yorker, presented a drawing that helped to clean up the Obamas (almost spiffy-clean) image a bit by over-exaggerating some of the simple truths about the Obamas. By over-exaggerating these small facts (Michelle's unfounded liberalism and Barack's favor with groups like Hamas) that might have become an Achilles' heel for them come debate time, it instead creates an sense of mockery when looking at their apparent faults. Kind of like the "shards of glass" commercial the cigarette companies had to run (due to lawsuits). Smoking cigarettes (though they could cause cancer and other problems) does not have the same, immediate impact of eating shards of glass. The cigarette companies know this--thus when they ran this ad (proposing smoking was like eating shards of glass), they complied with the courts and also advertised for cigarettes in the same punch (by mocking the allegations that were presented against them--that cigarettes are bad). The New Yorker has used the same device for Barack Obama, by implementing the same strategy as the cigarette companies. The Obama campaign stated the "offensiveness" of the ad--in case some people didn't "get" the mockery but might actually consider the over-exaggerated truths (so to those people, the Obamas become persecuted--either way Barry and Michelle win). One should be afraid of the damage cigarettes will do to the body as well as the damage that the Obamas will do to this country--though not the same immediate impact as eating shards of glass, it would be the same as the gradual demise of lung cancer.

Jason Alan Hollar

Lenoir, NC

Jul 19 2008 - 12:47am

Web Letter

If The New Yorker's representation of Michelle and Barack Obama was meant to be ironic or even satirical, it would have portrayed them as having affiliations with pink, plump Anglo-Saxons, Protestants, uptight Puritans, white supremacists, homophobes, misogynists and all the other chauvinists who contribute to American hysteria, narrow-mindedness and bullying arrogance that constitutes the divisions of the present. If The New Yorker were a actually a publication that showed any real understanding of Islam or the history of racism or the structures of American power, I might understand their intentions as ironic. But how many African-American writers do they really publish? Theirs is the false cosmopolitanism of the snobbish elite, who dabble in the lives of other cultures precisely because they can afford to, with a superiority that parades in the form of leisurely interest and the comforts of bedside reading, as the multitudes cling to their bare life.

Andrew N. Rubin

Washington, DC

Jul 18 2008 - 2:53pm

Web Letter

If The New Yorker had put the title "The Politics of Fear" on the cover with the cartoon, its message would have been much clearer, and not suitable for use by David Duke.

John D. Bell

Oak Ridge, TN

Jul 16 2008 - 2:04pm

Web Letter

Up to now, I believe a critical point has been totally missed. All the favorable critiques of this "happening" suggest or imply that the point was to satirically make a point about the right-wing caricature of Sentator Obama. But in no way does the cartoon suggest that on its face. The cartoon could have appeared in a David Duke poster, and no one would doubt its meaning. The best suggestion thus far is that the cartoonist could have saved a lot of misunderstandings and exercised emotions by including Rush Limbaugh with an easel in the left forefront of the cartoon, painting the picture himself. A grand opportunity missed by a mile! Too bad, so sad.

Mary C. McCall

Anchorage, AK

Jul 16 2008 - 12:15am

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