Jim Garaghty has a critique, with which I agree:
I actually don’t like the Obama-Joker poster, for several reasons. For starters, this image is too “hot” — i.e., the Joker was a sadist and a psychopath, and Obama is neither. Obama’s the opposite of Heath Ledger’s portrayal; the Joker was a nihilist and Obama is a utopian idealist.
There’s something particularly wrongheaded about using a character who says his purpose is to “show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are” to symbolize a politician in love with centralized planning.
As we watch the President’s poll numbers drop, I feel like a lot of damaging memes are starting to stick to Obama — used car salesman, not stupid but doesn’t know issues in depth (tonsil profiteering!), bad first instincts, a wimp on foreign affairs, melting before our eyes without Bush or McCain to run against… The “Joker” image doesn’t fit any of those, and I think is too easily used as fodder for distractions.
I think that the metaphor of Bush as Dark Knight and Islamism as the nihilist joker is interesting, but this poster is probably counterproductive, because while it may make some feel good, it isn’t grounded in a valid analogy. On the other hand:
William Ayers seemed, at one point in his life, intrigued at the thought of “watching the world burn.”
But he was “just a guy in Obama’s neighborhood” (with whom he helped propagandize schoolchildren with the Annenberg funds), so that’s all right.
[Update on Thursday morning]
Frank J. has his own take:
First off, it’s worth looking at whether the poster is racist. Liberals seem pretty certain it is. An LA Weekly blogger commented that “the only thing missing is a noose.” Now, you might be scratching your head and saying that the only people who would call this racist are brain-dead liberals who shriek “racism!” at every criticism about Obama as an alternative to thinking and only cause more problems by confusing the issue of racism and should thus be chased out of society and forced to live in the sewers, only emerging at night to feed on garbage and bugs.
And while that’s quite fair and probably true, we should still give the possibility of racism a fair hearing. Don’t you remember the long, racist history of black people being compared to the Joker? Of course not, because I just made that up — but it could be true in some alternate universe. Also, the image involves white makeup on a black person. White on black — that has to be racist somehow. I’ll bet makeup places won’t even sell white pancake makeup to black people. They’d be like “No! Get out of here, black person! We won’t sell that to you! That’s racist!”
Beyond the racism in the image that’s quite obvious to crazy people, the other question is whether there are any real substantive comparisons between Obama and the Joker. On the surface, they don’t seem at all alike. The Joker is psychotic, and I’ve heard Obama called a lot of things — arrogant, incompetent, deceitful, a Communist — but not psychotic. Obama doesn’t seem like he’s out to kill anyone — not even terrorists — and only leaves the option of killing people on the table to help make ends meet in his health care plan.
Though he doesn’t seem averse to persuading Granny that it’s time to go.
And then there’s comment number two:
The similarities also include the circumstances that brought each to power. As Alfred said “and in their desperation, they turned to a man they fully didn’t understand.”
And the election of Obama is a joke, a bad one on us.
It’s sure not seeming all that funny to me.