Obama, the New Yorker, and the Death of Humor

The New Yorker cover this week is exceedingly funny. If people don't get it, screw 'em. It's not a magazine's job to protect presidential candidates from misinterpreted satire.

I know I'm biased here, as a former New Yorker writer. I love the Atlantic, too, by the way (I guess this is what people mean when they accuse me of "dual loyalty.") As someone who appreciates a good joke, as well as bad joke, it bothers me that people are reacting so dyspeptically to the cover, and it's a shame Obama's campaign couldn't have laughed it off. In my limited experience, Obama is capable of humor, though he's not as funny as John McCain, the funniest person in the Senate, except for those times when Orrin Hatch goes blue. Also, Dianne Feinstein, who does one of dirtiest interpretations of "the Aristorcrats" I've ever heard.

Obama's people could have rolled with the pro-Obama sentiment behind the cover, just as Obama himself could have laughed off Bernie Mac's lame jokes last week. That was actually a more depressing episode than the New Yorker kerfluffle, if only because Bernie Mac was actually recruited by the Obama campaign to introduce the candidate. What did they expect Bernie Mac would do? Read excerpts of the Magna Carta?

The next time this happens -- say, when Cedric the Entertainer is hired to introduce Obama's newest thoughts on the earned-income tax credit, and he talks about ways in which bitches, as well as hos, can take advantage of the credit to offset their Social Security tax burden -- Obama could come out and say, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Cedric the Entertainer." Someone has to stand up for comedy.