As The New Yorker finds itself assailed by the very same elites it traditionally caters to, furor over its cover cartoon portrayal of Senator and Mrs. Obama as a turban-clad Muslim and AK-47 armed revolutionary respectively has taken on a life of its own. Seeking to lampoon the misperceptions and Internet-fed paranoia of low information voters, the magazine has instead been branded distasteful and irresponsible. With loyal readers canceling their subscriptions in indignant protest, the magazine struggles to defend its biting caricature even as it receives more media attention and greater exposure than it has enjoyed in decades. In reality, what the cartoon and its response actually highlight is the fact that the magazine and its newfound critics are unabashedly condescending and contemptuous of Middle America. Having been a fan and creator of political satire since junior high, I am well acquainted with the ingredients of smugness, contempt and condescension in countless recipes for political humor. They register distinctly on the palate and there are healthy doses of all three in this dish; so much so, in fact, that in the end they have overpowered it. First, the fact that it was intended to belittle the misperceptions of roughly 10 percent of the electorate deemed low information voters by such media sages as Jonathan Alter of Newsweek was the initial act of smugness and condescension. Why? Because it was framed as a joke that members of an exclusive country club would make at the expense of the staff and grounds crew. The only thing missing was a wink and a nudge as some unsuspecting rube walked by. The problem is, however, not only did the rube hear the joke; they dont appreciate or find it amusing in the least. So sorry, old man, but we have the Internet and satellite news here in West Virginia, too. And even the local Books-A-Million carries The New Yorker. But I must admit, I dont see many people reading it or taking a copy with them to the checkout counter. Clearly good taste isnt the exclusive domain of the elite and enlightened. Compounding this comedy of condescension, much of the media reaction has been patently patronizing. On the one hand there is the feigned shock that one of their own could be so insensitive and irresponsible. This coming from an industry whos motto is if it bleeds, it leads and considers Geraldo Rivera to be a substantive and respected journalist. Then there is the Rachel Maddow School of Patronizing Punditry that believes the hayseeds in flyover country just wont understand the highbrow tenor of The New Yorkers cover. Discussing the overblown reaction on MSNBCs Countdown, she insisted that reporters and pundits have a responsibility to identify and denounce misleading or misrepresentative items that pop up in the course of a campaign. Last time I checked, I believe that was the responsibility of the campaigns spokespersons, press secretary and War Room squad. That is, after all, why they get paid the big bucks. As a matter of fact, if I recall correctly, the Obama campaign set up a quick response team solely dedicated to whacking these mischievous moles the moment they rear their ugly heads. I wonder if Rachel would be so understanding were someone to tell her to scamper along to the kitchen; all this political talk is man stuff and over the lil ladys head, you know. Nonetheless, she can rest assured that the Obama campaign is on the job and struck a blow for truth, justice and the American way by roundly condemning the offending cartoon as tasteless. Being a master of political jujitsu, I am surprised the junior Senator from Illinois didnt opt to use the absurdity of The New Yorkers smug attempt at humor against it. Perhaps he could have replied to questions if he had seen the cover with: No, actually Michelle and I havent. When were not on the campaign trail, shes busy cleaning her AK-47, while Im lost in my studies of the Koran. In the original Arabic, I might add. Of course, hed punctuate his deadpan remarks with the requisite eye rolling and sarcastic, Uh....Yeah. Disarm the absurd with the absurd. All of this comes on the heels of the tempest in the teapot that occurred last week when John McCain quipped that increasing American cigarette exports to Iran was one way to kill them. Though not generating as extensive and widespread coverage as The New Yorker cartoon, the resulting blog and political message board indignation is still indicative of the highly sensitized state of the political environment. With the advent of the new 24/7-YouTube-fueled-gotcha media cycle, candidates are an off-the-cuff remark away from offending one group or another. Malicious or misspoken, it matters not as clips are recycled every thirty minutes on cable news and blown to viral status on video-sharing sites. In the cacophony of offense and indignation, one should bear in mind that one of the most sacred principals of American political life is enshrined in the First Amendment; that of the Freedom of Speech. With conventional speech being comfortably uncontroversial, it is the unconventional and politically challenging ideas that require its protection. One of the very reasons for the existence of political satire in the first place is to be controversial by challenging the conventional wisdom of the day. This too is a sacred aspect of American political life. To suggest that a candidate or publication engage in self-censorship for fear of offending one segment or the other undermines the Freedom of Speech and diminishes the quality and robustness of the public discourse. This is not Lebanon where embassies are burned over cartoons, nor Denmark where directors are slain over documentaries; this is America, the land where mans God-given rights were forever enshrined in his greatest political document. Let us all enthusiastically exercise those rights regardless of our intent and be judged on the quality of our character and content and not the sensitivity of our audience. Some things are too important to be taken so damned seriously, faithful readers. Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and the offended masses grow.