The New York Post's editors clearly weren't thinking, which appears to be par for their course:
"But it has been taken as something else -- as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism," reads the statement. "This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize....However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past -- and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback," the statement says. "To them, no apology is due. Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon -- even as the opportunists seek to make it something else."
Come, now, you can't really believe that is a legitimate apology. Any reasonably sentient person with even a shred of historical perspective would easily make the association of the chimp to the first African-American President of the US. Given the legacy of racist depictions of African-Americans, over centuries, as monkeys or apes, any aforementioned reasonable person should draw the conclusion that a cartoon such as this would be perceived as at best insensitive, at worst blatantly racist.
As for the defenders of the artist and tabloid who point out that GW Bush was often portrayed as a chimp, the intent of the cartoon is beside the point. There is a line beyond which is no man's land when it comes to racial sensitivity, and there's just too much historical baggage for this to be taken in another context.