As you may have heard by now, the July 21 cover of The New Yorker features a cartoon depicting the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as a Muslim and his wife Michelle as a radical terrorist.
The cartoon drew the ire of the Obama campaign, as spokesperson Bill Burton conceded in a statement that "The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Sen. Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."
Obama's competitor in the presidential race, the presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was also quick to condemn the cover.
While the Editorial Board recognizes the potential for the cover to be misinterpreted, we insist that this is inherent of the nature of satire and irony. The whole uproar is an overreaction, quick to assume that Americans will not understand that the cartoon is meant to lampoon the ridiculous and erroneous assumptions that many of Obama's political rivals are spreading, some of which are vicious lies and most of which we'd prefer were not forwarded to us in chain e-mails.
As for Sen. Obama's reaction, we find it ridiculous and a coy political move. Surely the senator has the good humor to recognize a cartoon that, in fact, lampoons his rivals instead of himself. It would take a woefully misguided person to mistake the cover for anything remotely resembling truth, and that's the sort of person who probably wouldn't be voting Democrat anyway.