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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Obama author Andy Martin on How Obama fumbled the New Yorker cover story

Did Barack Obama's response to the New Yorker create a mountain out of a molehill? Andy says Obama is "no Jack Kennedy."

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Obama Author Andy Martin on how Obama fumbled the New Yorker cover story

"Senator Obama, I knew Jack Kennedy, and you're no Jack Kennedy"
(NEW YORK)(July 17, 2008) One of the great lines in American political history is Senator Lloyd's Bentsen's 1988 retort to Senator Dan Quayle, "Senator, I knew Jack Kennedy, and you're no Jack Kenney." Senator Barack Obama daydreams that he's the "new Kennedy." In your dreams.

The remnants of the Kennedy dynasty have pronounced Obama "the new Kennedy." Defunct dynasties are like that. They still want to pretend the dynasty lives. But the entire Kennedy/Obama spectacle is farce and charade. Obama is a great actor and entertainer. Kennedy was neither. On the contrary, Kennedy had great personal charm and incredible grace. Obama is the spitting image of the fictional Sammy Glick, not the legendary John F. Kennedy.

I have learned a few lessons about grace along the way, and I vividly remember one lesson administered by Senator Charles Percy in 1978 on a snowy day at the Palmer House in Chicago. Senator Percy could not have been more gracious and more welcoming, and humorous, in introducing me to his audience.

As a talk radio host in Palm Beach, I often raised controversial topics. But callers always felt I was gracious and fair to even my harshest critics. I never screamed, never hung up the phone, never insulted anyone—all while raising the blood pressure of my audience with hot button topics. As so graciousness and gracefulness come with time and experience.

Let's start with the obvious: The New Yorker cover was laughable. It was ridiculous. And it was funny. I know the East Side of New York well, and the West Side too; and in those neighborhoods where the New Yorker is targeted people would have laughed and moved on.
Obama made the story by bungling his response to the New Yorker.

I was in New York last Sunday and saw the new New Yorker issue at the newsstand where I buy the Washington Post. The newsstand editions a wrapper that obscured the full cover, so I missed a view of the outrageous NY cartoon.

Obama's initial response to the cover cartoon was correct. He shrugged his shoulders. That's what Kennedy would have done, and maybe tossed off a quip. End of story.

Obama's handlers then issued a denunciation of the New Yorker cover, and the story exploded. Obama made the incident, not the New Yorker. Senator John McCain also chimed in, and he made the ruckus even louder. Good move, John; if that's what you intended. Obama's denunciation was all the talking heads on cable TV needed to create the gonsa megillah. As a result, Obama took what should have been a nothingburger and converted the cover cartoon into a media extravaganza.

Outrageous political cartoons have a long history in the United States. Thomas Nast's cartoon attacks on corrupt New York City leaders a century and a half ago are part of American history. Richard Nixon endured biting attacks. Even President Franklin Roosevelt was targeted by conservative opponents. So the goofy New Yorker cover on Obama was nothing special.
Ironically, by reacting the way he did, Obama made something out of nothing. He showed that he lacked the grace and graciousness to "blow off" the New Yorker with a genuine Kennedyesque quip and maybe a roll of the eyes.

The bottom line: it's not enough to daydream you are the "new Kennedy." Dreamin' ain't bein'. I won’t take anything away from Barack Obama. He is intelligent, attractive and suave. He knows how to work the rope line. He is going to make mega millions after he leaves the senate.
But I knew Jack Kennedy. And Barry Obama is no Jack Kennedy.

Not now. Not ever. Not inshallah.
Andy Martin is a legendary Chicago muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of © Copyright by Andy Martin 2008. Martin covers regional, national and world events with over forty years of experience. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. His columns are also posted at; Andy is the author of Obama: The Man Behind The Mask, published in July 2008, see MEDIA CONTACT: (866) 706-2639 E-MAIL: [NOTE: We frequently correct typographical errors and additions/subtractions on our blogs, where you can find the latest edition of this release.]


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