"At least part of my motivation for partaking in this mud wrestling match is that I didn't really believe either the Obama campaign or the McCain campaign when they issued statements calling The New Yorker cover 'tasteless and offensive.' That's boilerplate -- the same kind of fake outrage that all the candidates have been displaying during this election year. It seems as if the Obama campaign and Hillary Clinton's campaign spent the whole winter and spring seizing on mildly rude comments from people in the other camp, feigning outrage and demanding apologies and firings. Part of this is because the media has pounced on every tiny gaffe and turned each one into a 24-hour news story. Everybody's been appalled about something and no one has had the good sense to say, 'lighten up.'" - David Horsey
It would have been a welcome change if at least one of the campaigns would have answered a question about the cover with some version of, "It's a cartoon. Next." Instead we get somber statements issued on official campaign letterhead with every word crafted, not to say anything about the issue, but to create in the collective minds of carefully-defined voter groups a carefully-defined impression of the candidate.
Maybe the news cycle is part of this problem* as Horsey says, but I rather think the real problem is that the candidates are not serious people and they do not think serious thoughts nor deal seriously with serious issues. This election is the political equivalent of a Coke vs. Pepsi advertising campaign, full of slogans, blind taste tests, and celebrities, all attempting to sell competing versions of artificially-flavored sugar water.
* The press is the adult version of those kids who run back and forth between two other kids, telling Kid A what Kid B said and then rushing breathlessly back to Kid B to see if they can get him to up the ante. What is said is never important, they just want to see a good fight.