July 15, 2008

Obama gives a perfect answer — to Larry King — on the New Yorker cartoon.



XWL said...

He still played the, 'those dumb hicks in flyover country might take this seriously' card at the end of the clip.

And the 'there are more important things than "x"' locution that politicians love to use gets a bit tiresome, too.

If I were scoring at home, I wouldn't give that perfect marks, but certainly better than the earlier response from the campaign.

Anonymous said...

It was a terrible answer. It's just a cartoon. That part was great. However, the other stuff not so much:

1. He needs to run from the charge that the cartoon fuels misconceptions. At the end of the day, the elitism of his candidacy will sink him. The subtext here is still rubes will be misled by this satire.

2, Americans are not worried sick about the banking system and Iraq and Afghanistan. They're just not. Everybody is talking about this cartoon. Why lie? What he needed to say was that the press kind of tends to run with insanely trivial stuff and, you know, more power to them, but I'm running for president. As much as I'd like to analyze a cartoon, I fee like I should stick to some these other, more serious issues because next year, that cartoon isn't going to matter but banking crises and wars will. That would actually make his lack of sense of humor work for him.

vbspurs said...

I've already commented on this lame explanation by Obama. I think it lacks...balls.

Come on, get passionate! Say you dislike it! That they can attack him, but don't you winkingly libel his wife!

(I liked when he tried to defend Michelle earlier this month. He looked fierce and manly, doing what he's supposed to be doing -- protecting that which he loves. Kinda like I expect a President to protect America)

This LKL riposte just makes him look like he doesn't care, not that it's not true.

This is why the Muslim rumours continue. He denies, but doesn't condemn.

BTW, have you see The New Republic's counter-cartoon of John and Cindy McCain?

Ruth Anne brought it to my attention.

It's awesome!

vbspurs said...

Err, The National Review. Hehe.

James said...


Well, if he comes out all angry about it, the same people who would believe the Muslim rumours would say "Why is he so angry at a cartoon, there must be something he's hiding." The truth is, no matter what he does, there will still be (too many) people who hold on to that stupid idea.

UWS guy said...

He couldn't really say, "How dare they call me a muslim." now could he.

It doesn't address the issue that Christopher Hitchens makes in his short essay on the subject today. Which is to say that it was for Obama to be unappreciative, leaden, and purposefully obtuse to it's satirical nature.

article here

Ya'll are missing the point though...Obama can't "condemn" being called a muslim because it's not "wrong" or "bad" to be a muslim-american.

Anonymous said...

Victoria -- That National Review cover is really in poor taste.

Sure, I get it. I mean, you and me get it. However, I worry about the undecided voters in Lima, Ohio. I just worry that they might really believe that McCain is dying in a wheelchair and wants to burn the Constitution (the real one, not just the copies), bomb Iran, and lionize Dick Cheney while his wife sits around popping pills.

vbspurs said...

The truth is, no matter what he does, there will still be (too many) people who hold on to that stupid idea.

Wrong. He can just, without any prompting from a debate moderator (because you know that question will be coming in the Obama-McCain Presidential debates) start talking of what Christ means to him, in personal terms.

If you're a Christian, even one who doesn't have a good command of the Holy Bible like Catholic self, and you claim it is important to you as he has, then start talking, and don't stop.

This HuffPo post about his South Carolina campaign tactics brought up his Christianity in no uncertain terms:

One piece features photos of Obama praying with the words "COMMITTED CHRISTIAN" in large letters across the middle. It says Obama will be a president "guided by his Christian faith" and includes a quote from him saying, "I believe in the power of prayer."

Committed Christian? As president he will be GUIDED by his Christian faith? I believe in the power of prayer?

Hoo Nellie! Is this Bush or Memorex?


vbspurs said...

Seven Machos, no matter what he does, the perception that McCain is old will still be there. It's so unfair.

Anonymous said...

You realize that Obama believes that both God and Allah will be speaking to him. Many would say those are the same deity, but that's another topic for another time. The point is, can we really trust this man with his finger on the proverbial button? And just where would the bombs go?

James said...


I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that one. There will always be the group of people who think he's a Muslim no matter what he does, just as there is going to be a group that thinks Bush is like Hitler. There are just far too many irrational people on both sides of the political spectrum.

vbspurs said...

Ya'll are missing the point though...Obama can't "condemn" being called a muslim because it's not "wrong" or "bad" to be a muslim-american.

I was thinking about this earlier today.

And I came to the conclusion that it must really really suck to be Keith Ellison.

I mean, his middle name is Maurice, WTF.


Anonymous said...

Just so we are clear, though, James: the irrational ones on the right are rubes with no teeth who live without power or plumbing in Appalachia. The ones on the left are associate professors at Bryn Mawr.

Zachary Sire said...

no matter what he does, the perception that McCain is old will still be there. It's so unfair

Uh, McCain is old.

Obama is not Muslim.

Anyone still complaining about Obama's response to this latest overblown "incident" is beyond looped. Keep trying, folks.

James said...


Well, I occasionally visit more "right-wing" blogs, and unless every single poster is joking, there are a lot more people who want to think (or at least try to make other people think) that he is a Muslim, not just "rubes from Appalachia".

vbspurs said...

Christopher Hitchens makes in his short essay

Wait, wait I just had to come back to share this pearl of wisdom with you:


"Even Senator Obama’s Republican revival [sic] was heading for the moral high ground and denouncing the cover as "offensive"

Ludicrous as it might seem to have John McCain enlisted as an art critic"

Okay, good night for sure.

Anonymous said...

James -- Agreed. I occasionally visit left-wing blogs and there are a lot more people who want to think (or at least try to make other people think) that Bush is Hitler, not just "associate professors at Bryn Mawr."

XWL said...

Sen. Obama is right about one thing, there are more important things than a New Yorker cover, like a Dame in a bikini. . .

Anonymous said...

Now that's news. I will look that hot when I am 63.

Beldar said...

Professor A, with due respect, I doubt that answer would have struck you as "perfect" had his campaign's prior statements about the cartoon not been so dreadful by comparison. I will go along with "much improved."

To approach "perfect," Obama would have needed to demonstrate that he does indeed have a genuine sense of humor about himself. That is what a "trans-racial" candidate would certainly have done.

If Ronald Reagan had been in Obama's shoes, he probably would have had a quip, a one-liner, that someone else had crafted for him, but that he would deliver with a genuine twinkle in his eye that made it his — something like the line he used against Mondale in the 1984 debate (re not letting his opponent's youth and inexperience become a campaign issue).

"Perfect" would have been ju jujitsu, using the momentum of the cartoon to hoist it up for ridicule:

"Well, I have to confess, I did laugh when I saw it. And I see where the New Yorker's editorial staff was going with it. But I want to reassure those of my supporters who are concerned that some Americans may think any fragment of it is true: You're not giving your fellow American voters enough credit. And I likewise want to reassure Sen. McCain's current supporters, and all of those millions of Americans who are undecided still, that neither I nor Michelle nor my campaign share the New Yorker's editors' inclinations to mock you as being racists and sexists and conspiracy theorists. By the time this country goes to the polls in November, I think there will only be a handful of people who will be basing their votes on the kind of silly untruths that this cartoon was satirizing. So, bottom line, laugh if you think it's funny, don't laugh if you think it's not, and either way, let's get back to discussing the very real issues on which Sen. McCain and I differ, instead of these fantasies that no one from either side should take seriously."

Beldar said...

(The quip might have been: "Obviously, the editorial cartoonists at the New Yorker have gotten me confused with their former mayor. Among all the major candidates this year, Rudy Giuliani's the only one who's ever appeared in public in a dress, and he certainly picked more stylish ones than what they had me wearing in that cartoon." But I guess that would have been un-PC as offensive to Muslims, huh? Guess he would have had to based the riff on something else: "Nobody could ever take that cartoon seriously. I mean, just look at it: My ears don't ever look that small, no matter what kind of hat I'm wearing.")

Tman said...

Can you imagine Bush watching this right now?


Admit it- you'd be a little pissed too.

Yah; hope, change. Whatnot.

Revenant said...

BTW, have you see [The National Review]'s counter-cartoon of John and Cindy McCain?

That cartoon was printed in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; National Review had nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to think about how presidents of the recent past would have dealt with this (assuming, somehow, that they were in the exact same situation):

Reagan: Indeed, he would have had a brilliant one-liner ready. Obama should have as well. You have to think he anticipated the question.

Bush I: He would have blown it: "Message: I didn't like the cartoon," or some such.

Clinton: Also would have handled it brilliantly, though he would have been a bit too long-winded, and he probably would have mentioned something vaguely sexual about lining the back of his El Camino with New Yorker covers as a teenager.

W. He also would have a great line and he would have delivered it with that deer-in-the-headlights look and incredibly poor speaking voice of his.

Trumpit said...

...the perception that McCain is old will still be there. It's so unfair.

The perception? That comment is funnier than the cartoon. Funnier still if Obama has the White house painted black and renames it the Black house and changes the Lincoln bedroom to the Malcolm X bedroom, and replaces the Gideon bibles w/ Korans. He should announce that his first pick for the Supreme Ct. will be Angela Davis, and that he plans to pardon OJ for something or other. When Obama shows up at his inauguration dress like an imam and his wife shows up in combat fatigues wielding an AK47, & Maya Angelou will recite a poem: Why the caged bird just flew the coup and all hell just broke loose. I'm so looking forward to all that, not to mention the hammer and sickle replacing the stars and stripes.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Trumpit. Could it be that people on the left understand irony and satire but simply don't find it funny? I think it's possibly that the further left you are, the less you are likely to find funny things funny and the more likely you are to try to find humor in shit that just isn't funny.

Sure looks that way from here.

Chip Ahoy said...

He was very easy to listen to there. Much better than his oratory voice, the one that gets me reaching for the remote before he says a single word because you can see it coming from a mile away. Something in the gestures and the gaze across the horizon, as if speaking to everyone all at once but nobody in particular. This was different. Me like.

"I think the American people are thinking more about ..."

No. No we're not, actually. Right now we're talking about this. It's right up there with all that other stuff. In fact, we're not done yet photoshopping parodies of the parody. The satire on the satire potential is off the chart. We got a full on bandwagon goin' on and we're not quie done yet.

Plus, he's already lashed out against it, his statement tracked with CAIR who called the cartoon inflammatory. Inflammatory. There's a good Muslim.

Patm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patm said...

I wouldn't call it a perfect answer, but it's better than what his team has done. I thought the FUNNIEST part of his answer was the "Americans are more concerned about what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan..." because you couldn't tell it from the press! As far as the press is concerned, it's all Obama, all the time!

Really, Obama should have laid into the press and asked them why they'd rather talk about that cartoon than about the successes in Iraq...or McCain's idea that we need a "surge" in Afghanistan.

What am I saying - the press and Obama engage in SUBSTANCE? No...they're all very happy to talk about his cartoon victimization. And that's what it is.

Anonymous said...

How come we never hear that George W. Bush has been victimized by the heaps of shit and scorn that have been piled on him since he sought the presidency?

I don't much like Maureen Dowd, but her characterization of Obama as Bambi is wholly apt.

Anonymous said...

Obama drew up the cartoon a month ago........

June 21, 2008

Barack Obama told supporters that Republicans will “try to make you afraid of me” in remarks he made Friday at a Florida fundraiser.

"The choice is clear. Most of all we can choose between hope and fear. It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy.

“We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run,” said the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. “They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. ‘He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?’"

In similar comments at a Chicago fundraiser last Thursday, Obama told supporters that Republicans would try to portray both him and his wife Michelle as "scary."

"They’re going to try to make me into a scary guy,” he said last week. “They’re even trying to make Michelle into a scary person. Right?" And so that drumbeat – 'we’re not sure if he’s patriotic or not; we’re not sure if he is too black.'

"I don’t know, before I wasn’t black enough," said Obama. "'Now he might be too black. We don’t know whether he’s going to socialize – well, who knows what.'"

Last week, the Illinois senator’s campaign launched a Web site to directly respond to and discredit Internet rumors about him and his wife that have dogged his presidential effort.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

"Just a cartoon" won't fly with the Danish.

rhhardin said...

Obama has never said the right words about anything.

McCain managed a few the other day, Belmont Club comments.

That's the sort of event that actually matters. Finding the right words for something, I mean; not something aimed at the moron audience.

Joaquin said...

Obama gave us his real response a couple of days back. This was staged, rehearsed, and 100% phony.

Padre Steve said...

Obama has learned a few things from Bill Clinton. He knows how to play the media... I still feel like he is an empty suit. Let's hope the voters are wise and choose the real leader come November!

George M. Spencer said...

Elect This Man President or We'll Shoot This Dog

Number 7

(In the next issue, the editor's word said that they did indeed kill the dog.)

MadisonMan said...

Let's hope the voters are wise and choose the real leader come November!

As if there's one on the ballot.

KCFleming said...

Get used to third and fourth tries when Pres. Obama explains his real opinions on matters both controversial and trivial.

It'll be one do-over after another.
President Mulligan.
President Magic 8 Ball.
President Wisconsin Weather (don't like this opinion?; just wait 20 minutes for a new one)

bearbee said...

What? No blog on the McCain cartoon?

Anonymous said...

From an Islamic website:

"It is our obligation and duty as parents to teach our children so that they grow up to be believing, practicing Muslims. Sending the child to an Islamic weekend school or to a full-time Islamic school is an important but minor part of their Islamic education. The major 'institution of learning' for each child is his family, and the major 'professors' of this institution are the parents."

Obama's "out" is that he didn't "practice" Islam. But that is not what defines a child as a Muslim. With a Muslim parent, the child is assumed to be Muslim, and the parent is held responsible for raising the child properly in the faith.

It's much like one cannot be born to a Jewish mother and claim to be "not Jewish" as far as the religion is concerned. One can be lapsed, or non-practicing, or a non-believer, but one will always in a most basic sense be Jewish. Or Muslim.

So suck it up, Obamaphiles. The Obamessiah saying, "I am not a Muslim because I didn't/don't practice the teachings of Islam." only makes him a bad Muslim according to the teachings, and probably the same could be said for his father and step-father. It does not answer the question, "Are you a Muslim?".

garage mahal said...

P. Rich like so many righties seems to be an expert in what exactly being a Muslim is.

Sure you ain't one yourself, or studied at a madrassa? Or maybe he/she is one of those touchy feely DhimmocRat types that are just trying to understand Muslims and why they hate us.

Anonymous said...

garage mahal

I am duly impressed by your lucid, fact-based arguments.

Liberal "attack the messenger" responses have become so tiresome and passé. Apparently you didn't get the update.

Roger J. said...

Garage--the issue for Americans is trying to sort out which Muslims are which. Remarkably enough, it is rather like "Christians." Do we judge christians by pentecostal standards? or high church episcopalian standards. Much different answers follow until you cut to the level of the Nicean Creed.

I did spend quite a bit of time in the Kingdom in 1988-1989 and found that--oddly enough--just like Americans there are extremist muslims and everyday muslims. Regretably in the Kingdom, the extremist muslims are in charge. That experience has led me to the fervent belief that extremists of any stripe should never be in charge.

I do wish that more Americans would take the time to at least learn about the five pillars, some history of Islam, and understand that Muslims, like Christians, Jews et al, share only a veneer of sameness.

walter neff said...

I thought the Muslims are the ones with the Bean Pies. And the bow ties.

James said...

Well, P. Rich, according to Islam, every "non-Muslim" child is, in fact, born a Muslim, but those children are corrupted by their parents. That means, GASP!, you are a Muslim too in their eyes. You just haven't been "perfected" yet. So if you want to act like Obama is a Muslim because that is how Islamic teachings would consider him, we might as well start asking McCain about how he is a "secret Muslim."

Anonymous said...

Well, if he comes out all angry about it, the same people who would believe the Muslim rumours would say "Why is he so angry at a cartoon, there must be something he's hiding."

You are channeling the same elitist "the rubes might believe it" BS the overwrought MSM is bleating about. The number of people who believe 'the Muslim rumors' on account of a New Yorker cartoon are ... zero. Besides, the idea that you cant say "X" because it might cause someone to believe something untrue would lead to absurdity of not being able to say anything out of fear. Shall we all just shut up, then? :-)

The Muslim rumors exist because Obama had a Muslim father, Muslim stepfather, Muslim half-sister and half-brothers, lived in Muslim Indonesia for a time and studied the Koran as a kid (its in his book), visited Pakistan in College, praised his half-brothers adopting Islam in "Dreams of my father", and was able to recite the Arabic call to prayer so well that NYT's Nick Kristoff swooned over it in a column (dunno why or how Kristoff knows these things but he called it 'perfectly accented' FWIW).

The New Yorker cartoon is just a satirical reflection of that backdrop , a mirror. See the Hitchens column on the topic.

No, people will properly conclude if Obama gets bent out of shape over one cartoon that he cant stand the heat of being President, where such unfairness and charicature comes with the territory. Obama's been treated with kid gloves compared with other politicians. "If you cant stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." - Harry Truman

Anonymous said...

"Reagan: Indeed, he would have had a brilliant one-liner ready."

Reagan got a lot worse press, with the liberal press spending most of 1980 trying (and failing) to convince America that Reagan was a unqualified moron and a dangerous extremist.

His main solution? Ignore it.

If you have even a single instance of Reagan denouncing a magazine cover about him as 'offensive', that would be surprising.

In fact, that's the surprising thing here - that Obama is stooping to even discuss it. The perfect answer is no answer at all.

Anonymous said...

All children are Muslim only in the sense that they are born pure in the eyes of Allah. Being born into a Muslim household is NOT viewed the same as being born into a non-Muslim household. Nice try, James, but you conveniently overlooked the fact that Obama twice had Muslim parents, one his biological father, who by the teachings were responsible for rearing Obama as a good Muslim. Try harder. Your inadequate, selective argument is pathetic.

nina said...

But really, forget the New Yorker readers. For the rest of America, don't you think that this entire discussion has been supremely helpful to Obama? Bringing out silently held beliefs into the open, having them ripped and acknowledged as idiotic -- that's a bad thing? I think the Obama campaign is doing a lot of quiet fist bumps over this one. With thank you notes secretly sent to the editorial board.

Randy said...

As someone else wrote, it is not a perfect answer, just yet another answer of many by the same man to the same question. Such multiple responses to the same question are a pattern with Obama. There's his ill-considered off-the-cuff response, his campaign's strident reponse, and then the candidate's vetted-by-advisors, focus-group tested, heavily massaged and well-rehearsed response. Sometimes, even that doesn't come out right. It all goes to show why Obama is one of the most distant of modern Presidential candidates and why there is so little unrehearsed interaction between the candidate and the press corps accompanying him.

blake said...

Gotta go with "not perfect".

Adequate had it been timely, though still not capturing any sort of humor.

Anyone still complaining about Obama's response to this latest overblown "incident" is beyond looped. Keep trying, folks.

Perhaps you could issue a memo as to how long people should care about things, so that they could avoid being "looped".

James said...

Ah, now I'm the one who is pathetic? You are the one trying to find ways to call him a Muslim based on technicalities. And I'm pathetic? And since when exactly do you follow the opinions of Muslims? They consider him a Muslim in the same sense they (extremists) consider you an evil heretic in need of a forced conversion or execution. So I guess that makes you evil.

Yes, I know that is a ridiculous argument, almost as ridiculous as your need to identify him as a Muslim.

Anonymous said...

James -- Obama isn't a Muslim. He is a flawed candidate. He ran in the primaries as an empty vessel evoking the futile Utopian dreams of the far left. Now, as he tries to fill the vessel up with actual policy substance, he is practically degenerating before our eyes.

His only hope is that he is running against a candidate who clearly does have substance but can't seem to get a message together.

Kirby Olson said...

His message played to the idealists of the left.

It will not play at all to the right.

Or to the center.

Outside of the far left people actually think, rather than just chant slogans.

That's going to be a problem for Obama.