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What Were They Thinking?


When I first looked at the image, I was focused on the heads, and I thought, "keffiyeh -- check; Afro -- check, terrorist fist jab -- check; but where the heck is the gratuitous desecrated American flag?" Closer inspection, though, revealed: there it was! They really left no base uncovered here.

This piece of "satire," as the New Yorker describes it, was drawn by the same artist, Barry Blitt, who did the fabulous Ahmadinejad/Larry Craig cover last year. That cover worked because it was a surprise: two stories you never, ever would have thought were related, brilliantly linked. But this week's cover seems to me ultimately more dull than provocative -- a collection of the most obvious smear narratives about Obama, lumped together and mediocrely illustrated. It's no better than Perry Bacon's infamous Washington Post story, "Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him." Both outlets claimed not to support the allegations they were visually or rhetorically putting forward -- obviously! -- and yet a reader would have to have a fairly sophisticated understanding of each outlet's ethos to immediately intuit the intended ironic distance.

--Eve Fairbanks