The Real Caricature Problem

“I know rednecks,” my friend was telling me, “and they’re not unaware, but this is what they think about Barack Obama: they don’t think he’s a Muslim, they think he’s a secret Muslim.” After laughing about it, I responded that I know very highly educated people who flat out believe Barack Obama isn’t a secret Muslim, he just IS a Muslim. “His middle name is Hussein. He’s a Muslim.” Of course, I protest. It’s ludicrous. My name is Melissa and I’m not even a wee bit Greek, but there you go.

The problem isn’t even Barack Obama’s Muslim name, or that he has the misfortune of sharing the name of a bloody, murderous, now-dead dictator. The problem is that Barack Obama attempts to be vague about who he IS and what he believes. He is the great unknown and seems to want to keep it that way, and so says flowery things that mean little which leaves people to insert their own ideas and definitions. For the true believers, they project savior. For the skeptical, well…. A relative told me, “He SAYS he’s not Muslim, but I think he has the heart of a Muslim.”

So the cover of the New Yorker satirizes the rubes who make up America and are inserting their opinions about Obama. Essentially, the New Yorker is making fun of America and since only city dwellers wearing black and trading witty reparté read the magazine, it’s an inside joke. How stupid can you be?

Obama, being one of those wine sipping elites, gets the joke, but is, of course, outraged. He’s not outraged that an American magazine takes aim at Americans who “don’t get it”. He’s outraged that the topic about which they are ignorant and is being used to demonstrate their ignorance is HIM. It is all well and good to talk down to Americans. In fact, he enjoys a daily dose of his preening superiority, but this time, the joke hit too close to home.

Is it offensive to be portrayed as a Muslim (satirically, of course)? Because, really, that’s the fence Obama is trying to saddle. He knows his name and paternity give him instant, unearned cred with a good portion of the world’s population. And it’s not just the Middle Eastern inhabitants salivating over a Muslim American president (because that is definitely how they view him). Western elites marvel and enthuse over the possibility of a walking melting pot who hints at but is not quite Muslim. He’s the perfect, post-Modern man of vague descent and broad ideals. He’s the everyman.

Obama himself can deny nothing lest he become something. Well, he can deny the terrible insults and the injustice in the media. “I’m NOT Muslim…..not that there’s anything wrong with that,” can be his only response.

The cover was funny because it had some truth in it–many truths in it. The Flag burning in the fire place: I had a black friend who will vote for Obama in November say, “Well, he’s not really patriotic.” Obama isn’t patriotic. Does he hate America? I don’t know about that but his words and actions certainly don’t demonstrate love for America.

The knuckle bump: Sliding into slang in front of certain audiences seems unbecoming a president or president’s wife. Hilary Clinton rolled into her Southern, negro drawl and was pounced on. The Obamas adopt the cadence of a Southern, black preacher and no one says anything.

The crazy wife: Michelle Obama makes Theresa Heinz Kerry seem restrained. She’s put a cork in it, as of late, but the caricature kinda captures her essence, does it not?

But all these representations, the satire, would be funnier if it were patently, obviously ridiculous. If, after all this time, educated people I know (who aren’t political junkies) can say with a straight face that Obama has a “Muslim heart” the problem isn’t the American public or some pretentious New Yorker artist: the problem is Obama.

Jesse Jackson was right: He talks down to black people. Hell, he talks down to everyone. He doesn’t hide his contempt for average Americans and it slips out whenever he thinks he has a sympathetic audience–whether it’s donors in San Fran or average Jeans in France. His close friendships with anti-American radicals and religious leaders cement the notion that he’s an activist first, for one group of people, not an advocate for all people. His tone-deafness about how gas prices affect the average person comes off as snooty out-of-touchness–and begs the question: Has the man ever had a real job?

The New Yorker can poke fun of Americans and Obama can dismiss them as gun-totin’, beer-drinking dumbasses, but Americans are anything but. The problem for Obama isn’t his caricature on the New Yorker cover, but the caricature he has of Americans.

Cross-posted at

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