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October 25, 2010

Newsweek’s Cover: The Hopeless Election

Seeing Newsweek rehash the Shepard Fairey 2008 Obama HOPE illustration to frame the 2010 mid-terms made me shudder, it was that depressing.

The anchor text provides the main clue.  Saying that “Change Is Coming … Again,” and then offering us Boehner as Obama made over, the message is that the “change” America experienced in 2008 involved little more than a Washington change of face. The fact that Fairey’s design is open season at this point also says less about the graphic strategy than about Obama’s failure to defend it. With his centrist and piecemeal approach, he has been far less than a transformational or change agent, and his deliberate and cerebral style doesn’t sync with the “figure of hope” either. As a result, the message here — especially framing Boehner, an uninspiring corporate shill, as the new, new face and the inheritor of the HOPE message) — is that promises are empty and that we’re as good as going backwards.

Maybe time for a bong hit?

  • http://e karen h

    I guess i’ll have to read the article to discover the association between Boehner & pot…what happened to Newsweek?

  • holy-mary-mother-of-jane

    did ah have a dream…once(?)

  • black dog barking

    “Change Is Coming … Again” is their headline. Mutating the Fairey poster, Newsweek affirms what was obvious in 2008 and obvious in 2010: Change has already come. Newsweek missed the boat.

    This cover asserts that the same-old-same-old still rules. Pick up a Newsweek, the physical package is a cheap knock-off of what it was at the turn of the 21st century. What you see is what you get.

  • cmac

    I keep seeing stories on the Web and in the (occasional) newspaper about the tide shifting again – towards Democrats. Sure, the Republicans will win some seats, but I don’t expect them to sweep back into power. All they’ll do is narrow the gap and make it that much harder for the Obama administration to act. Change? Nah. LESS change than we’ve had in the last two years; that’s what we’re looking at here.

    Still, the majority of media outlets clings to the meme of Republican victory, Republican change. I guess it’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

    • corey

      My hope is that Obama might actually have better luck with some real opposition in Congress, but we’ll see. As long as he gives up this quixotic quest to work with Republicans, some good can still come out of the election, even if forecasts for big republican gains turn out to be correct.

  • Wordsmith

    Speaking of bong hits. My daughter told me yesterday that pot helps her RLS (restless leg syndrome) which causes her sleeplessness and pain during the night. She’s mentioned it to others and has found out that others use it for fibromyalgia and a few other maladies.

    BWT – back in the day, I ALWAYS inhaled.

    As for Boehner – the return to back beyond the Industrial Revolution. Mr. Boehner – the very epitome of that which he attacks.

  • mjfgates

    They needed to make the orange a lot more intense. It’s a picture of John Boehner, after all.

  • Marsupialas

    Maybe if they spent less time on predicting the results horseracing and more time on being a NEWS magazine. . . I was 30 year subscriber to Time and Newsweek and gave both up. The quality of the writing is for 3rd graders. The endless pandering to the Right was more than I could take. Funny thing, don’t miss either them one bit.

  • bill

    I think it’s been mentioned here before that Newsweek knows how to play both sides. To the “insiders” this cover is effective as satire at reminding us just how different the two parties are and you’d better not let your emotions, due to a less-than-ideal economy, mar your decision at the polls. In that regard, I disagreed with BAG’s initial negative assessment. But to the vast majority of newsstand passer-bys, the cover supports the throw-the-bums-out meme which the GOP is peddling. This two-sided characteristic just makes you wonder if Newsweek thinks they have any journalistic responsibilities beyond selling the maximum number of magazines.

    • Michael Shaw

      Bill, I appreciate your point, and have to admit the cover does lend itself — probably “by design,” as you say — to different associations. Grudgingly, it does make me respect it more for playing in both directions.

  • robert e

    To begin with, nice catch, Mr. Shaw. But my primary reaction is: how clueless of Newsweek. The mind boggles at how badly and in how many ways this cover misses the boat. Unless this a rather good example of sophisticated ironic parody, Newsweek having decided that becoming a satirical magazine is the way to revive circulation? Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Would anyone notice if they had?

    But I have to point out one apparent oversight in your analysis. The transformational nature of Obama’s candidacy and presidency, as well as the message of Fairey’s poster, was as much (if not more) about the American electorate and a social turning point as it was about Obama and his political beliefs and abilities.

    I would argue that those voters are both the more important phenomenon of the 2008 election, and the bigger disappointment of 2010. Having accomplished the amazing collective feat of putting a black, somewhat progressive, democrat in the White House, many members of that historic horde of agents appear to have done little since but sit on their hands and bitch that Obama and his magic wand aren’t doing it all for them.

    • Michael Shaw

      Robert, I want to agree with you in the worst way (or, the best way, I guess), but my fear at this point is that it’s not enough to break the color barrier if you’re not truly willing to buck the corporate state. And that’s where I think Obama is truly handcuffed. Because his role as an evolutionary figure, beyond his painfully deliberate personality, dictates he also cannot afford to be radical in the slightest. To me, that was the lesson of the Jeremiah Wright hysteria.

  • parallaxed

    take it from the king(s): (self)reliance, independence…not the same

  • Mayfly

    Has anyone here spent a few hours in the doctor’s/dentist’s waiting room recently reading all the 6-month old, 1-year old, etc. issues of Newsweek and Time?

    They are always wrong in all their predictions. It is wonderful! Just like the pundits on television!

    I am delighted Boehner is featured on the Newsweek cover. Boehner may not even be back in the House. Justin Coussoule has an excellent chance of winning the seat.

    • gmoke

      I got a feeling that Boehner might not be all that secure in his seat when the golfing billboard went up. You’re the only other person I’ve seen write that Coussoule might win.

      Latest I read shows that Canter may be in trouble too.

  • angellight

    Let us get clear, when the GOP/Tea Party state that they want less government, what they really mean is that they want NO government, because government will only get in the way of their fraudulent schemes!

    Then, they pretend that they want to lower taxes for the American people all the while knowing that the loopholes they put into place for the wealthy means that Corporations and wealthy Americans pay very little taxes or No taxes at all, which means Average Americans have to carry and Shoulder all the tax burden.

    To Create Jobs in America, you must Invest in America. Yet GOP want no spending on America’s crumbling and decaying roads, streets, sewer system, infra-structure, high-speed rails, and public education (to further “dumb-down” Americans)! They say No to any Investment in America (water, air, clean technology) and her people. They know that Investing in America means TO CREATE JOBS! On the otherhand, they don’t mind Spending millions of dollars on Wall Street stocks and bonds, phony ponzi schemes and real-estate deals, all the while America continues to further decay into a third-world country.

    The Simple & Awful truth, is that Republicans do not want and they Fear a government for the people and by the people. Their desire is for America to go back to the times when the rich get richer and the poor get poorer! That’s what they are fighting for, not for average Americans, but for their greedy way of life and for power.

    What the Republicans Really Don’t Want You To Get Educated On!

  • Zoey & Me

    Well, they could have put Canter on the cover but I doubt it would have increased magazine sales. This cover was carefully planned. Well thought out to put the town drunk of the GOP who is often called back to Congress from the golf course as a leader to shape the nation next time around. If this is what Newsweek is getting at, the best the GOP can put up in Pelosi’s seat, it will be a long two years and guess who will benefit? Yup, Obama gets a second term.

  • Gasho

    Eh. Puke. Spit.

    Newsweek: “Let’s do a story about the election! You know, the Republicans are supposed to do great. Hey — that would be like another “change”. Let’s put Boner on the cover in that Obama style! That’s so creative. We’re so great. We’re so totally on top of this stuff! Horray. Oh, and just in case people don’t get it, we’ll put a little pot leaf on top so they’ll buy it anyway. Great idea. We’re so great.”


  • robert e

    MS, I can’t seem to reply directly to your reply to my comment, but that’s a very interesting take on Obama’s quietness, and something for me to think about going forward. It also resonates with the idea that he plays a longer game and has a historical perspective. Still, it doesn’t explain the quietness of the movement that gave him the presidency.

  • Ava A.

    I certainly hope Newsweek has contacted the original artist Shepherd Fairey about use of Boehner in place of Obama. I think Fairey would have a fairly good case for copyright infringement.
    I personally find it offensive.

  • Bishop

    I’m surprised no one has made a comment that John Boehner actually won the election, making the Newsweek coverstory TRUE! Change was coming, and Newsweek had it right and put it right there for all to see.

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