A standard political satire poster, in this case of Obama, appeared on the highway near Grand Junction, and I am writing about it in an attempt to analyze why people are upset. It was taken down 2010-10-13. It seems these presidential level people always have a big smile.
As can be seen by the photo along the open highway, with a speed limit of 50 mph the poster can only be seen for a second or two. The following analysis will be in much more depth than any passenger in a passing car could attain.
Let us look at each of the symbols portrayed in this poster and try and discern the offensive character of each and then combine them into the whole to observe its offensive potential.
In the upper left there is a vulture overlooking the scene with the label Soros. That is apparently a reference to the currency trader and multi-billionaire George Soros who no doubt is always looking for a way to make another quick billion.
Then there is the Vote De moc RAT which is a childish slur on the Democratic party’s proper name but after a brief chuckle or sneer it is instantly forgotten.
Join the game which by itself can’t be offensive but might be so when referring to the entire poster.
To the upper right is another vulture, with the letters UN on its hat, who like Soros is apparently watching for some easy prey.
The next layer down is of four cartoonized men sitting before a card table with huge smiles on their faces. All four look vaguely like Obama but his name is never used in this poster. The first one, to the left, is dressed in a white jacket with a white turban and has nine red sticks attached to his chest representing dynamite. He apparently represents a terrorist and seems to be holding a Statue of Liberty in his left hand. My guess it that the artist intended the suicide bomber to represent his messing with American liberty. He used that symbol instead of the World Trade Center twin towers because they would be too difficult to portray as a little model.
The next super smiling man is wearing a blue suit and a white hat and is holding a large cigar in his hand. There is nothing offensive about that except when you look very closely he appears to using the scales of justice for an ashtray. That implies he is cheating the law and is very happy about it. This can be seen only by close inspection of the picture and it really isn’t clear that tipping scale artifact is the intent of the man or of the artist. The cigar ash is dead center of the picture, so perhaps interfering with justice is the central theme.
The third man is wearing a Mexican sombrero, a serape and has a bandoleer of bullets strung across his chest. He is smoking a long white cigarette but there is nothing offensive about him. Possibly he is supposed to be relating to the Liberty Bell but if so it is a very tenuous relationship.
The fourth man also with an exaggerated smile isn’t smoking or doing anything strange at all but he is wearing a purple jacket and an earring. He has a circular symbol on his shoulder with two horizontal band across the bottom. I don’t know what that symbol means but he may represent a gay man and the GI Joe toy is closest to him so it may be a reference to gays in the military. It’s a very weak pictorial relationship however.
On the table before these smiling men is a table with playing cards on it. All of the cards appear to be 6 of Hearts and I don’t know what that means or implies, except perhaps they are all cheating. There is a small statue of Justice holding her scales, a small replica of the liberty bell, a black closed black note-book lying on the table with an Uncle Sam doll lying on the notebook and the last symbol is a standing GI Joe doll with no reference to anything. I don’t know what those symbols are intended to mean in this context.
Beneath the table from our left to right is a big super-smiling rat with a red tail and the words Trial Laws on his chest. Next there is a rat with his hands on the table and a big smile. He is looking at the table with great interest, but why?
Then at the center another rat with the letters EPA, (the Environmental Protection Agency), also with a big smile. Then a rat smiling at another rat with FTT on his tummy.
Okay, so we have symbols of groups of people President Obama is required by his office to relate to and solve problems with. Politics is the art of finding compromises with all of the contending parties which means everyone gets something and everyone gives up something. Therefore, there will always be some hard feelings by everyone that they didn’t get everything they wanted and in this case these hard feelings are made the point of in a political cartoon. The implication is that all of these people are getting more than their fair share and thus cheating us out of our share. This poster doesn’t really say much of anything except that Democrats are a pack of rats and that Obama is forced to deal with a bunch of rats and perhaps they are getting more than their share of goodies and are very happy about it.
The poster could have made similar silly comparisons of any and every politician who ever held office so why the problem. The fact that it was taken down prematurely was a far bigger story than the fact that it was put up. A good political poster is one that gets the viewer to vote for some particular party, person or proposition and I doubt very much that this particular poster swung a single vote.