So Obama's upset about a cartoon? I guess that's even more proof that he's really a Muslim. (Actually it's his supporters that are objecting.)
A lot of people have asked me what I think of the New Yorker/Barack Obama controversy, so here goes:
The Cover's Inherent Value
First, the cartoon didn't strike me as funny, clever, or insightful. I didn't "get it," either as a joke or a statement. But then, I react that way to a lot of the New Yorker's covers. David Remnick's done an impressive job with the contents, but I'm not feelin' the covers.
Is it me? Do I lack some requisite sense of irony, detachment, and bemusement? Do you have to be able to gaze down upon humanity from some great height and chuckle, like the Gods on Olympus used to do as they looked through a crystal mirror in those old movies?
If so, I guess I'm not qualified. I feel like the guy who's supposed to see the two old ladies in the optical illusion but can only see the vase.
So I was not as well-disposed toward the cover as I might have been.
The Cover's Impact On the Election
But will it hurt Obama's election chances by reinforcing those "Obama's a Muslim and his wife's a black militant" rumors? Well, it wouldn't have - if the Democrats hadn't raised such a fuss about it. I mean, think about it: The New Yorker has topped a million in circulation, but some of that is subscriptions.
So let's do the math. Let's say that 800,000 copies of the magazine are distributed via newsstands. Let's assume an average of 15 magazines per newsstand. That's only 53,000 newsstands in the entire country that have displayed this image! And those are heavily weighted toward East and West Coast bookstores and news vendors haunted by liberal Democrats. The checkout stands at Midwestern grocery stores are still dominated by Us and People.
What we really care about is how many people saw that cover in swing states - states that are far less likely as a whole to have heavy newsstand sales of the New Yorker. So let's further assume that 1 in 10 newsstand display of the magazine took place in swing states. That leaves us with 5,300 locations. Let's further assume 100 visitors a day to each, with one visitor in ten noticing the cover, for a period of one week. (For you math geeks, the formula is "(5300*100)/10*7")
The result? 371,000 people in swing states will see that cover. If one/third of them are likely voters, that leaves us with 123,666 people who saw that cover and will probably vote. How many of them will be influenced by the cover? Your guess is as good as mine, but I would assume very, very few. You want to say 1 in 50? I think that's really high, but let's go with it.
What does that give us for a final result? 2,473 voters. That's it.
I don't know about you, but I've got bigger things to worry about.
The Liberal Response
Yes ... I guess it was kind of offensive. But whereas the cover itself wasn't likely to draw much attention, the objections certainly did. They dominated the news coverage for two or three cycles. Many millions of people who would never have known about the cover heard about it over and over because of these objections.
The result? Strong subliminal reinforcement for the idea that Obama's a Muslim and his wife's a radical.
Democrats can't seem to learn that you reinforce a subliminal association every time you repeat it ... even if it's to object. Do they want to do something constructive? Instead of fighting these images, they should generate some of their own.