New Yorker cover sparks protests as Democrat gains lead in polls

NEW YORK – “It’s downright offensive” was the sentiment echoed by Manhattan protesters Tuesday complaining of the New Yorker cover painting the Obama’s as terrorists at a press conference at the magazine’s headquarters. The event was called by State Senator Bill Perkins. “It was offensive to the values that New Yorkers have, it was offensive to the values that Americans have, and it is beyond just an insult,” said Perkins.

Perkins was joined in decrying the New Yorker’s attempt at satire by elected officials and community activists including Councilman Miguel Martinez. A representative of the Black Radical Congress said, “We aren’t partisan in the election, but we are partisan against racism.” Senator Obama meanwhile on Larry King Live, played down the controversy calling it a failed attempt at humor protected by the 1st amendment. An article in the New York Times Tuesday pointed to difficulty by late night commentators and humorists generally in finding traction in comedic takes on Obama with one comedian claiming the Democratic hopeful as not given to buffoonery.

Obama yesterday assumed an 8 point lead over McCain in a WashingtonPost/ABC poll, the widest margin by this particular poll to date. “Sen. Barack Obama holds his biggest advantage of the presidential campaign as the candidate best prepared to fix the nation’s ailing economy, but lingering concerns about his readiness to handle international crises are keeping the race competitive, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, reported the Post.

As the New Yorker scandal continues to unfold another poll on race relations and the elections conducted by the New York Times is being portrayed as showing significant discrepancies between whites and African Americans on the status of race relations. The poll shows 80 percent of Blacks having a favorable view of Obama as compared to 30 percent of whites. According to the Times “Nearly 60 percent of black respondents said race relations were generally bad, compared with 34 percent of whites. Four in 10 blacks say that there has been no progress in recent years in eliminating racial discrimination; fewer than 2 in 10 whites say the same thing.” The Times went on to say that while there was significant shifts in attitudes in the ’90s, feelings have remained fixed since, “Indeed, the poll showed markedly little change in the racial components of people’s daily lives since 2000.”

Other polls however show somewhat different patterns, with a Washington Post sample indicating nearly 9 in 10 whites having a favorable attitude towards a Black president and “51 percent call the current state of race relations ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ about the same as said so five years ago. That is a relative thaw from more negative ratings in the 1990s, but the gap between whites and Blacks on the issue is now the widest it has been in polls dating to early 1992.”

NAACP chair Julian Bond in his report to the organization’s 99th Convention pointed to nearly 4 in 10 African Americans losing “middle-class” status in the last 10 years as compared to 16 percent of whites, an indicator of why African Americans remain pessimistic about the state of race relations since the turn of the century. On the other hand, the 1990s saw a period of momentary but significant up tick in the economy during the Clinton years.