January 19, 2007

Caricaturing Obama.

This is the first real caricature I've seen of Barack Obama. I find it amusing, and it reinforces my observation -- you can hear it in this Bloggingheads segment -- that he's bland.

29 comments:

vbspurs said...

Then there's this.

The reason Obama won't be caricatured in any visceral way, is not JUST because he's bland.

...but because caricaturists like Jeff Danziger and Ted Rall want him to win.

Get used to seeing these Alfalfa-looking caricatures of Obama. Nothing too egregious, easy does it.

There's no way they will emphasise his features, to make them more (how shall I put it...) animalistic, like Danziger has made a career of portraying Condi Rice.

Cheers,
Victoria

Revenant said...

It is hard to draw a caricature of a member of a racial minority without it looking like, well... a racist caricature.

Anonymous said...

It reinforces your observation that he's bland? Boy it doesn't take much for you to find reinforcement for your superficial impressions, does it?

And haven't the last 8 years made the thought of a bland, competent president rather appealing?

Here's your wingnut readership's real problem with him, btw: He's a Muslim terrorist!

Anonymous said...

Revenant-

No, it's not. Especially not in Obama's case. It's the ears, stupid.

Anonymous said...

Rev -

Didn't see the one that Victoria [who is, incidentally, insufferable] posted. Apologies.

Elizabeth said...

Bland, schmand. He lost my vote when he said the Saints "fairy tale" was going to come to an end this Sunday on Soldier Field. Pfooey!

Ann Althouse said...

Doyle: Did I say I couldn't accept bland? Why don't you watch the diavlog and then come back and say something fair, you ridiculous hothead?

Mortimer Brezny said...

It is hard to draw a caricature of a member of a racial minority without it looking like, well... a racist caricature.

It would be very easy. Just focus on his exotic upbringing.

See, here's the thing. There is a very specific identity rooted in being both American-born and descending from plantation slaves in the United States of America. For lack of a better term, let's call these people Negroes.

Obama is not a Negro. It is not that Obama is "mixed" -- it's that his father is African, as in African-born. (This is why I didn't use the term African-American.) He may be "black," but he isn't a Negro.

Likewise, foreigners who emigrate here, e.g., Jamaicans, Haitians, etc., may be black, but they aren't Negroes. They may be a part of "the diaspora", but they aren't Negroes.

The problem for Obama is not exactly that he is running a deracialized campaign; Douglas Wilder ran a deracialized campaign and won. Harold Ford ran a deracialized campaign and came darn close. But both Douglas Wilder and Harold Ford had the support of Negroes because they are Negroes.

Negroes tend to have Christian or traditional first names and British, Irish, or Scottish last names that designate their ancestors' owners. Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey does not sound like Barack Hussein Obama.

If there is lukewarm support amongst "blacks" -- and by that term I mean Negroes -- for Obama, it will be because he isn't a Negro. Indeed, there may be resentment over the fact of his candidacy rooted not in his style of politicking, but over the perception that a dark-skinned man with two Negro parents wouldn't have the same opportunity. That Obama would be claimed as the "first black President" if he won, will lead some to say in considering his candidacy "Well, but, he isn't really black". What people who say that will mean is that Obama isn't a Negro.


In other words, the implicit complaint will be that there's an unfair standard, i.e., "No black Presidents unless they're half-white and born of Kenyan farmers."

Now, I'm not saying that's good or bad or wrong or right. But some people will react that way. That is why it is important for Obama to cultivate ties with Jesse Jackson and James Clyburn and other prominent blacks whose names sound American and white.

Mortimer Brezny said...

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ideas_opinions/story/467300p-393261c.html

peter hoh said...

Toles realy loves the pointy-head look for his characters. His Obama caricature looks oddly out of place in his cartoon universe.

Jon Swift said...

Once again, Ms. Althouse, you zero in on the most important issue instead of trivialities.

Meade said...

White = Colorless = Bland

Say It Loud - I'm [Bland] and I'm Proud

Michael Babin said...

And haven't the last 8 years made the thought of a bland, competent president rather appealing?

Bland does not imply competent. As far as possible indications of competence in the position goes, W's track record as governor of a major state before becoming President is seemingly a better indication of possible competency for the post than OB's Senate experience.

Of course, Carter was a governor as well, so the theory is not without its counterexamples.

Daryl Herbert said...

Once again, Ms. Althouse, you zero in on the most important issue instead of trivialities.

Heaven forfend, Ann, that you should be focusing on trivialities what with the eve of the election upon us. There's no time for trivialities! You, a law professor. Get serious.

Also: if we don't like the way Obama is being portrayed in political cartoons this will instantly become a pressing issue (proof that all Republicans are racists!) and all of our commentary on it will be of the utmost seriousness.

Anonymous said...

Bland? Yeah, bland like Castro. Like Putin. Like a lot of vicious dictators around the world with a secret police, control of all media, and ownership of all business. Weird kind of bland I'd say.

LoafingOaf said...

Here's your wingnut readership's real problem with him, btw: He's a Muslim terrorist!

Except FOX is saying that stuff is coming from Hillary Clinton: Insight [magazine] says its sources report that the Clinton Democrats are doing background checks on Obama and are going to attach the word madrassa to him

*shrug*

The only way this worries me with respect to Muslim terrorists is that Muslim terrorists might wanna murder him for not staying with Islam.

Now, what does the Far Left think of Obama's strong support for Israel and his statement that he would support attacking Iran's nuclear capacities if circumstances get worse?

I don't have strong feelings about Obama. Seems like a nice dude whom I don't anticipate voting for, and if he wins I'll feel relieved it's not Gore, Hillary, or Kerry (though I have to confess I'm softening towards Hillary lately, which is scaring me).

My guess is Obama's peaking too early and it's not good to be the big hype this far from the election, but what do I know? I'm not gonna hate someone just because they're not as good as Rudy.

amba said...

His temperament is bland, or he's blandifying it to avoid alienating any potential voters. His mind is sharp. The effect of the combination is to make people feel like he's an affable, regular guy who makes them feel smart by talking smart without talking down.

dklittl said...

Mortimer,

Thank you oh so much for your lesson in "Negro" psychology which I'm sure comes from your massive experience with the "Negroes" because I'm sure that all of the "Negroes" that you are "best friends" with enjoy being called "Negroes".

If you are looking for the pulse of "Negro" America you might look outside of Jessie Jackson and Stanley Crouch who speak for "Negroes" maybe only slightly more than yourself.

Maxine Weiss said...

You know "Negro" is an accepted word in standard English.

It's in Websters.

It's not a perjorative.

Peace, Maxine

Anonymous said...

So, so true, Doyle (re: Victoria).

anyhow...

Maxine Weiss (who could be Victoria's long lost twin sister) said:

You know "Negro" is an accepted word in standard English.

It's in Websters.

It's not a perjorative.

Peace, Maxine


That is a very interesting comment on so many different levels, Maxine. First and foremost, I'm almost positive if you asked any "negro" if they find the term "negro" completely harmless and acceptable, then clearly you don't get out much. Secondly, I truly love your implication that because a word can be found in Webster's then it must be accepted in standard English! Sadly, "coprophilia" is also found in Webster's dictionary, and I don't know about you, but I try to keep that word out of my daily standard English practices. "Ni***r" is also found in Webster's dictionary.. acceptable term in standard English..? Finally, I looked up "negro" in Webster's, and it's listed as "sometimes offensive," so I'm not quite sure how you interpret that as "an accepted word in standard English," but I probably just read too much into things. Clearly.

P. Froward said...

Obama's hyped for the same reason the media were hyping some Texan before the 2000 election heated up, or that shrieking lunatic from Vermont early in 2004, before he spun out of control and it became apparent just how slender his support really was: Nobody knows all that much about him. Novelty, plus lack of known negatives. Bingo! Everybody loves him.

That'll change. Mind you, I'll eat my hat if Obama turns out to be the kind of sh^H^Hloser Dean did. Obama strikes me as a civilized human being. Wrong about one thing or another, but in control of himself. If so, the hard left will turn savagely against him. There's nothing they hate more than a responsible adult.

It remains to be seen if he feels compelled to pose as a paranoid left-wing clown to get the nomination (he just doesn't seem stupid or childish enough to really be one). But more importantly, it remains to be seen who's really in there, under the boy scout routine. Could be a real boy scout, obviously. More likely an ambitious politician. Possibly a not altogether objectionable one, but he's got flaws. The only people who seem not to are the ones you don't know yet. And me, obviously.

Whatever. The Barack Obama you know a year from now will not be the one you know today. LoafingOaf may be right about too much hype too soon, but they started hyping G. W. Bush a long time before November 2004.

What I want to know is whether Obama agrees with these lunatic Democrats in Congress who want to ban speech they disagree with in the media. If he's one of those, he's got no business running a democracy.

vbspurs said...

insufferable

Yahtzee!

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

In other words, the implicit complaint will be that there's an unfair standard, i.e., "No black Presidents unless they're half-white and born of Kenyan farmers."

That's what they said of Tiger, too, of course -- not "helped" by the fact that he self-identifies as Asian (we discussed this in the Brazilian standard of beauty thread).

But TTBOMK, I believe Obama thinks of himself as black, and furthermore, truly African-American.

I mean, if not he, then who?

(Although your larger point, Mortimer, of not being a specific kind of slave-descendant American may yet prove to be deeply important)

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Bland? Yeah, bland like Castro. Like Putin. Like a lot of vicious dictators around the world with a secret police, control of all media, and ownership of all business. Weird kind of bland I'd say.

The hell?

Cheers,
Victoria

Mortimer Brezny said...

Thank you oh so much for your lesson in "Negro" psychology

Nigga, please.

Der Hahn said...

Actually, Mort gave some good reasons why Obama is more serious contender than, say, Jesse Jackson ever was. Just understand he's not talking about blacks. There's a reason why non-whites are refered to as 'minorities' in US.

dklittl said...

Nigga, please.

There you go. Doesn't it feel a little better to fully release that inner racist.

Anonymous said...

Mortimer's commentary has a somewhat interesting point to make, but it is sadly undercut by this terminology of "Negro" he uses. He uses it in a very pejorative manner to distinguish Obama as a black person lacking a "victimhood" mentality, as opposed to "Negroes". Its a very negative generalization and its offensive. I concur in the response to Maxine regarding the term Negro. If you have any african american friends or associates, why don't you try asking them if Negro would be an appropriate way to refer to them or any black person they know.

peter hoh said...

Over at Salon, Debra J. Dickerson makes a point much like Mortimer Brezny in arguing that Obama isn't black.

She writes: "'Black,' in our political and social reality, means those descended from West African slaves."