Palestinian-American Behind 'Socialist-joker' Obama Poster

The LA Times reveals identity of artist who drew image of Obama with carved-in-smile, posted across U.S.

A Palestinian-American has been revealed as the creator of the "socialist joker" image, a doctored poster of President Barack Obama found on highways and in cities across the United States this summer.

Many initially took the portrait - featuring the president with the carved-in smile of Heath Ledgers's character in the Dark Knight - to be the work of a conservative opposed to Obama's liberal ways.

But it turns out that Firas Alkhateeb, 20, is actually a liberal himself from Obama's hometown of Chicago, who would have preferred to see Dennis Kucinich elected.

Alkhateeb told the Los Angeles Times - which unmasked his identity - that the poster had been meant more as a joke than as a political statement. The original draft of the image was meant to satirize, or in this case "jokerize," Obama's picture on the October cover of Time Magazine.

Regardless of his intentions, the iconic image has turned into a political statement. An Obama critic downloaded Alkhateeb's image off of the photo Web site Flickr, printed it out as a poster, and tacked on the word "socialism" before pasting it up across Los Angeles.

The image has sparked debate among Americans of whether its message is racist, if it is related to the ongoing conversation of reforming health care, and of just how liberal the new U.S. president may be.

But for Alkhateeb, none of this seems to matter. "After Obama was elected, you had all of these people who basically saw him as the second coming of Christ," he told the Los Angeles Times. "From my perspective, there wasn't much substance to him."