Hendrik Herzberg, who is some sort of editor at The New Yorker (though that shadowy cabal never ever publishes a masthead, so aside from Remnick, it’s kind of unclear what everyone does), and my very, very favorite political columnist in Talk of the Town—I read him and Anthony Lane (and anything by Louis Menand) even when I don’t have time to do anything but look at the cartoons and recycle—has responded to the on- and off-line media generally shitting itself over the recent Obama cover.
He takes a couple pot-shots at the OTI demo, viz.:
As David Remnick and others (me, for example) have been pointing out every chance we get, the target of Barry Blitt’s image was not the Obamas. The target was the grotesque pack of lies about the Obamas that have been widely disseminated, not only by marginal right-wing Web sites and sicko viral e-mail campaigns but also by such nominally respectable outfits as Fox News.
That is the part that a lot of people—sophisticated people, non-irony-challenged people, people who watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert without a trace of bafflement [That’s us! —Ed.]—fail to “get.”
The whole thing is worth a read, because he dissects, in a clearheaded way, the alarmist (and, in his view, condescending) hand-wringing that the cover provokes.
He actually addresses a point made in the comments on Stokes’s post about this—the difficulty of making jokes about Obama, or, in an unfortunate, non-equivalent restatement, whether Obama can “take a joke.”
His rationale, that Obama is not the target of the joke so that it’s really not forhim to take it well or not, is over-nice and a little disingenuous, and I don’t buy it. It’s like calling someone fat and then claiming you were satirizing the nation’s obesity problem.