It’s hard to know what was in the head of the illustrator who drew Barack Obama as a sly-looking Muslim terrorist (with Osama bin Laden’s visage hung over the mantle) and Michelle Obama as a gun-toting, camo-clad, fist-bumping, smirking radical with the American flag roasting in the fireplace – artists are strange people – but The New Yorker’s editors must have known that to be satire, it must expose ludicrousness.
American Heritage Dictionary - sat·ire (sāt'īr') n.
1. a A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.
b The branch of literature constituting such works. See Synonyms at caricature.
2. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.
Or, as BagNews Notes puts it more succinctly:
“…satire isn't satire if it has to be labeled as such.”
New Yorker editor David Remnick reveals his understanding of the genre:
What I think it does is hold up a mirror to the prejudice and dark imaginings about Barack Obama's — both Obamas' — past, and their politics. I can't speak for anyone else's interpretations, all I can say is that it combines a number of images that have been propagated, not by everyone on the right but by some, about Obama's supposed "lack of patriotism" or his being "soft on terrorism" or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers. That somehow all this is going to come to the Oval Office.
The idea that we would publish a cover saying these things literally, I think, is just not in the vocabulary of what we do and who we are...
It is now, dipshit. How do you suppose that the 12% of knuckle-dragging American cretins who believe that Obama is a practicing Muslim and the prominent neoconservative bedwetters who insist that Obama was a practicing Muslim will get the satire? And what about the many Americans who are simply oblivious to the entire story? For them, these smears will not be “misinterpreted or taken out of context,” because you didn’t provide any context at all, you just repeated the smears.
Ohhhh, I get it. It’s not about Obama and the right-wing smear machine at all. It’s about the context-free, valueless “journalism” practiced by you and your colleagues in the establishment press. Too clever Mr. Remnick…by about half.
UPDATE: Speaking of knuckle-draggers, here's how G Gordon Liddy appreciated the "satire" on air: "Yeah, I don't suppose you've, by any chance, have seen the cover of the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine, which is, you know, a huge thing. It's got Obama in his Muslim dress with a turban, and he's there with his wife. His wife has a "mad at the world" afro, circa 1968, she -- she's got bandoliers and an assault weapon, and there in their fireplace is burning the American flag. The New Yorker finally got it right."
Heckuva job, Remmy.