[image-1]It’s hard to make a joke about a politician like Barack Obama when he appears to be without flaws, says an assortment of comedians in today’s New York Times. The article was sparked by the childish outcry of both Obama’s and McCain’s camps about the New Yorker‘s cover, which depicts Obama as a Muslim and his wife, Michelle, as a terrorist. They are fist-pumping each other while Osama Bin Laden’s portrait looks on and an American flag burns in the fireplace of the Oval Office.

It clearly, unmistakably satire. It’s titled “The Politics of Fear” and it lampoons all the stupid assumptions, half-truths, and falsities that people believe, or want to believe, about Obama.

More importantly, it’s supposed to be funny. It is funny. It’s certainly as funny and no less “scandalous” than another cover some weeks ago drawn by the same cartoonist, by Barry Blitt, depicting Obama and Hillary Clinton in bed together and scrambling to beat the other to answer a red phone at 3 a.m.

[image-2]Fortunately, no one at the time expressed alarm that The New Yorker was suggesting that Clinton was a slut, or that Obama just wanted to get into a white woman’s pants, or rape, or miscegenation, or some other unbelievably dumb conclusion that might have been taken seriously, just as this cover is now being taken seriously, a half a century ago.

Here’s Stephen Colbert’s take, quoted in the Times, on the whole brouhaha:

Mr. Colbert said in a telephone interview that a running joke on his show has been that Mr. Obama is a “secret Muslim”; the New Yorker cover, he said, was consistent with that. “It’s a completely valid satirical point to make — and it’s perfectly valid for Obama not to like it,” he said.

Mr. Colbert said he had been freer to poke fun at Mr. Obama than other late-night hosts because “my character on the show doesn’t like him. I’m expected to be hostile to him.”

Here’s David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, saying he understands why people are upset but that in any case this is humor, that’s the point, we’re not sorry, you have the right to get upset, too.