Christian Right icon James Dobson went on the air Tuesday to scold Whoopi Goldberg and ABC’s “The View” for linking him and his organization, Focus on the Family, to a gag product that ridicules Barack Obama, African-Americans, Hispanics and Muslims.
Goldberg and her co-hosts discussed the product, Obama Waffles, last week on their show. “Last Saturday, conservative groups American Values and Focus on the Family sponsored a Values Voters Summit that offered something called Obama Waffles for sale,” Goldberg told viewers while showing pictures of the product. A co-host asked, “Who did this? Dobson’s Family Council?” Goldberg said yes.
“We had absolutely nothing to do with the Obama Waffles,” Dobson explained on his daily radio show broadcast on more than 4,000 stations nationwide. “This is a classic example of the liberal media attempting to marginalize us and other conservative voices in a political season,” Dobson said.
Conservative bias meet liberal bias. Goldberg and company apparently didn’t bother to check whether Dobson actually was involved in the gag (he wasn’t). Dobson didn’t bother to mention that the two men who created Obama Waffles used to work for Focus on the Family. And the culture war goes on, as insults are added to injuries both real and perceived, perpetuating a climate in which someone can dream up something as repugnant as Obama Waffles and try to sell it at a “values” conference.
The waffle makers, Bob DeMoss and Mark Whitlock, say they were trying to be funny when they took their cheap shot at Obama. “Our intent from the beginning was simply political satire and comedy to highlight the debate surrounding Senator Obama’s waffling. Nothing more. Nothing less. We truly regret that anyone has misinterpreted this satire,” the two men said in a statement on their website.
As Dan Rather, lion of the liberal media, might put it, you’d have to be dumber than a bag of hammers to misinterpret Obama Waffles, which ridicule Obama’s race and perpetuate the lie that he is a Muslim. Satire should sting, not sucker punch: “By presenting a mad or contemptible partisan sentiment as a mainstream one . . . (it) unwittingly reiterated the misconception it meant to lampoon.”
That was Lee Siegel’s explanation for why the New Yorker’s July cover cartoon of the Obamas failed in its attempt at satire. It’s the reason Pat Oliphant’s recent cartoon making fun of Sarah Palin’s Pentecostal influences was so offensive. And it’s the reason Obama Waffles failed. True satire is not smug derision.
Obama Waffles were so derisive and contemptuous they were condemned by the ultra-conservative Family Research Council, one of the co-sponsors of the Values Voters Summit where DeMoss and Whitlock tried to sell their gag-me gifts earlier this month. FRC officials told DeMoss and Whitlock to leave the exhibit area and dismantled their booth. “We strongly condemn the tone and content of materials that were exhibited by one of the vendors at this weekend’s Values Voters Summit. The materials represent an attempt at parody that crosses the line into coarseness and bias,” FRC’s David Nammo said.
Not to mention racism and bigotry.
On their website, the Obama Waffles makers complained that most news stories haven’t mentioned that DeMoss is married to a Hispanic woman and Whitlock and his wife have adopted a daughter from China. “Is that what racists do?” they ask.
No, but are Obama Waffles what Christians do?
On his blog, Whitlock, whose Christian book credits include “50 Nights of Family Fun” and “Very Veggie Family Adventures,” wrote about the power of stories and songs to convey the Christian message. “Our culture screams, ‘Tell me a better story and then I’ll believe in Jesus.’”
Obama Waffles are not a better story.