It wasn't on the stands yet, but the cover was tooling around cyberspace as if Wall-E had plucked it from a garbage dump. It's awful. But exploring the reasons it's awful is worth more than a news cycle of thought.
If only The New Yorker had PRINTED A BANNER SOMEWHERE ON THE COVER that said, "The Politics of Fear." People of any political stripe could then be left to their own reactions. Context could then be asserted, debated, and munched upon.
The upcoming election is too important to have a discussion of either candidate devolve into a combo platter of Danish inspired fatwah and country-fried Miley Cyrus . The New Yorker editor should have realized a large part of the population don't get most satire. They don't get Stephen Colbert.
People of all intelligence levels are confused by irony and hoaxes all the time. Very smart friends of mine try to warn me about scams. I almost always send an appropriate link to Snopes.com right back at them. College student 'research papers' reveal this terrible truth to me with great frequency. In fact, were I to visit a white supremacist website I would never expect to see this real New Yorker cover posted on it. I would be certain that it was a cruel caricature.
Most people do not read The New Yorker (sorry to say) nor Vanity Fair, but they watch the reactions when there is a kerfluffle.
The assumptions made by the artist and the editor were unwise.
Much of the superiority of the debate comes from those who say people are stupid if they don't get the joke. What if the joke is not funny?
I lived in Arkansas for five years--during the last election cycle, in fact.
I lived in Georgia when Max Cleland was smeared.
The 'satire' would work much better if those imagining the cartoon were political operatives, NOT, as cartoonist Bob Cesca suggests at the Huffington Post.
"In order to preserve the integrity of the drawing, while emphasizing the point, Blitt [the artist] could've used the same illustration but drawn it within a large comic book speech bubble emanating from the mouth of an exaggerated, fat, inbred, toothless hillbilly sitting at his toothless hillbilly computer."
Arkansas and West Virginia were targeted as states being 'stupid enough' to believe that a Kerry victory would mean the loss of all guns and the banning of all bibles. A full page ad appeared in the AR state paper of record, The Arkansas Democrat.
Both liberals and GOP tricksters wind up in the same camp when insulting southerners as hillbillies (yet another kind of slur). I sure would not be comfortable sitting around that campfire.
But is so often the case, it's The Daily Show that eases my blood pressure, gives me perspective, and the hope that just maybe, Jon Stewart makes more sense than most pundits.