"The Daily Show" was in top form last night as they called out every single cable news network for helping spread the myriad scurrilous and unfounded rumors about Senator Obama.
Obama's camp initially agreed that the cartoon was "tasteless and offensive". Really? You know what your response should have been...let me put this statement out for you. Barack Obama is in no way upset about the cartoon that depicts him as a Muslim extremist because you know who gets upset about cartoons? Muslim extremists, of which Barack Obama is not. It's just a f%#!-ing cartoon! But as always, no where was the anger at the media hotter, than in the media.
Even though these coordinated lies about Barack Obama are shameful and disturbing, the fact remains that this presents a real problem for his campaign. According to a recent Newsweek poll, a whopping 29% of respondents said they believe Obama was raised a Muslim, while a significant 12% said Obama was sworn in on the Qur'an. Indeed, most of the reservations I hear from close friends about thier reluctance to vote for Obama revolve around their doubts about his "character," most of which are exacerbated by these deliberate and coordinated distortions.
This is where the whole New Yorker cartoon comes into play. Although many have argued that the whole controversy is a net gain for Obama -- because it vividly illustrated the absurdity of the lies, therefore debunking it on a wider scale than otherwise possible -- I tend to agree with those who think it's harmful to the cause of setting the record straight. Regardless of whether or not you found the satirical cover funny and clever, I fear it may have just reinforced the false impressions people may (or may not) have had.
In the end, though, it's almost kind of humorous. After the whole Jeremiah Wright saga, you would think everyone would recognize that Obama is, in fact, a Christian. I think Kos said it best when he wrote this:
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[The Wright scandal] really puts Obama's smear merchants in a bind -- do they push false rumors that he's a secret Muslim bent on delivering America to Al Qaida, or is he a member of an intolerant and radical black Christian church?
While I know the crazies on the Right have a remarkable power to ignore the laws of reality, science, and logic in pursuit of their wrongheaded ideology, trying to float both these theories at once might be a stretch, even for them.
Unfortunately I think Markos may have misunderestimated the power of the right wing smear machine and its ability to convince more than a handful of people that both lies are simultaneously true.