Have you noticed a growing trend in the liberal media lately? A reporter finds an "undecided voter" who can't quite figure out for whom to vote for president. Then after a period of "soul-searching," this "undecided voter" finally decides. And guess who they ultimately decide to vote for? Need I even bother to answer that question?

As everyone knows, conservatives are a distinctly disagreeable bunch. Mean-spirited knuckle-draggers, pretty much.  It's therefore a shock to come across one who's actually likeable.  At least if you're Chris Matthews.

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, a guest on this evening's Hardball, observed that the Obama campaign hasn't quite decided how to go after Sarah Palin.  The first line of attack was on the experience issue, but "now they're saying, OK, let's define her as a right-winger. You know, we'll talk about her views on creationism and some of these other extreme views." That elicited this from the Hardball host.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: She's got a lot of--they are pretty far over. For a person that seems very likeable and mellow, she doesn't look like a political zealot.

Tom Brokaw had his Pauline Kael moment on MSNBC this morning.  Though the story might be apocryphal, the late New Yorker film critic is famously credited with saying she was shocked by Nixon's 1972 victory, since everybody she knew had voted for McGovern.

Here's Brokaw on today's "Morning Joe," discussing the importance of the upcoming debates.

TOM BROKAW: Debates should be judged on two big counts: tonal and substance. You know, are you comfortable with this person?  Look, everybody believes that on debating points, John Kerry probably beat George Bush, the 43rd, the last time around. But people liked Bush.

Update below.

Vanity Fair magazine thought it amusing to have artist Tim Bower work up a mock magazine cover that lampoons the now-infamous satirical depiction of Sen. Barack Obama as a Muslim and his wife as a gun-slinging leftist radical (h/t Marc Ambinder). In Bower's cartoon, McCain clutches a walker while his wife waits with vials of prescription medicine. A George W. Bush portrait hangs above the fireplace in which the U.S. Constitution is ablaze. Hmm, sounds really familiar for some reason.

I'm not sure if its because leftists lack originality or Vanity Fair doesn't read West Coast publications, but the parody heavily cribs from Seattle Post-Intelligencer David Horsey's July 15 illustration.

Here are the illustrations side by side:

You might think that a tidal wave of denunciation would ensue if a cartoon depicting John McCain being tortured in a bamboo cage by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and another person (who might be George W. Bush) were to appear in a supposedly respectable or trendy publication.

You might further think that giving McCain's three torturers stereotypically exaggerated Asian features would only further fuel the outrage.

Sorry to disappoint you, but the cartoon involved appeared last month in Rolling Stone. As far as I can tell, what you are about to see has produced not a single ripple of protest (HT Taxman Blog via tip from Weapons of Mass Discussion):

A week has gone by since the "controversy" over the New Yorker cover featuring Barack and Michelle Obama broke and the media is still wringing their hands in excruciating microanalysis over it. The ironic thing is that the true target of the New Yorker wasn't even Obama and his wife. They meant to satirize a "simplistic rightwing" attitude about the Obamas. Or at least how the left thinks the right views the Obamas.

John and Cindy McCain as spoofed in a 7/15/2008 David Horsey cartoon for the Seattle P-I | NewsBusters.orgLiberal political cartoonist David Horsey defended the New Yorker's satire of the Obamas with his July 15 Seattle Post-Intelligencer drawing (shown at right, for a larger size check the P-I Web site here) while raising some left-wing tropes about the presumptive GOP nominee.

"For all the irony-challenged literalists who were upset by the New Yorker's Obama-as-a-Muslim magazine cover, here's one for you," reads the caption to the left of Horsey's cartoon depicting John and Cindy McCain as being lampooned on the cover of National Review.

In her July 15 column, "'Tasteless cover,' fascinating story," Chicago Sun-Times Washington bureau chief Lynn Sweet lamented that the fuss over the New Yorker's satirical Obama cover art sucks all the oxygen out of the political newsroom. As such, it leaves almost incombustible the otherwise potentially explosive reporting by reporter Ryan Lizza, who penned the New Yorker cover feature (emphasis mine):

WASHINGTON -- The shame of the controversy over the cover of the latest edition of the New Yorker -- portraying Barack and Michelle Obama in the Oval Office, her wielding an AK-47, him in a turban and robe outfit suggesting he is a Muslim -- is that it draws attention away from a very good story inside by Ryan Lizza about Obama's Chicago political roots.


The cover hides an in-depth story about Obama's political roots, taking us to Hyde Park, the Gold Coast and Springfield. Lizza brings us inside Obama's Chicago political world and the political culture that spawned the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Among Lizza's scoops:

Kyra Phillips, CNN Co-host | NewsBusters.orgDuring a segment on CNN’s "Newsroom" program on Monday afternoon, anchor Kyra Phillips voiced her clear objections to The New Yorker’s satirical depiction of Michelle Obama as a radical leftist and Barack Obama as a Muslim. "If I see this magazine cover, okay? And I mean, this is pretty racial. I mean, let's look at it again. You've got Michelle Obama in an Afro. You know, you've got, you know, her husband, Barack Obama, in a turban. We're talking about racism and terrorism. I mean, these are -- and burning of the flag. These are the most sensitive issues in our country right now. If I see that, I'm going to think, oh my God, is this who we want in the White House?" She later asked the question, "Do you think in any way that this cover sets us back, that it's more divisive than anything else and only proves that we're still pretty racially insensitive?"

On Monday's "MSNBC News Live," journalist Andrea Mitchell and Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart discussed whether Americans are not "sophisticated" enough to understand the attempted satire in the cartoon featured on the cover of the current New Yorker magazine. According to Mitchell, "...The only question there is whether [the cover] is too sophisticated to actually be perceived the way it is intended."

The image in question features Barack Obama in Muslim clothing with a flag burning in the background and is an obvious parody and an example of the liberal contention that conservatives are questioning the patriotism of the Democratic presidential contender. The Post's Capehart suggested that the uneducated voters in Middle America might not comprehend the high minded satire: "...The folks at the New Yorker are very smart, very learned, learned people, but once you get outside of the confines of Manhattan and the Upper West Side, you sort of begin to wonder if anyone-- if there was a conversation around the table about how will this be viewed by people who won't necessarily get the joke."

On Monday's "Good Morning America," the show's co-hosts appeared quite bothered by the "supposed satire" of a New Yorker magazine cover that features a cartoon Michelle Obama as a black militant and Barack Obama in Muslim garb with a picture of Osama bin Laden in the background. And although the issue is obviously meant as a parody and a representation of the liberal view that conservatives are attacking the Illinois senator's patriotism, Cuomo fretted, "Is that the way people see him?"

An ABC graphic for the second segment on the topic, a discussion with Democratic strategist James Carville, featured this warning: "Cover Controversy: Does New Yorker Cover Go Too Far?" In a tease for the subject, co-host Robin Roberts asked, "Did the New Yorker go too far with this week's cover?" Cuomo, making clear his belief that, whatever the satirical intent, the cover wasn't appreciated, opined, "The New Yorker is not even on the stands yet, but this supposed satire has a lot of people talking."

Look for Mika Brzezinski outside the Danish embassy.  True, the Danes had nothing to do with the New Yorker's publication of the Obama cover. But what more time-honored locale to protest an irreverent cartoon of a figure adulated with religious fervor?

Mika has condemned the New Yorker cover as "dangerous."  Why dangerous?  Mika doesn't quite say.  But by darkly musing about unspoken perils that derive from the mocking of Obama, she would apparently place irony about her candidate off limits. Mika sounded the alarm on today's Morning Joe.

View video here.