The New York Times Magazine's upcoming cover story on Hillary Clinton set the political universe abuzz even before anyone could read the article. A picture of the cover was all it took.

The magazine cover story -- headlined “Planet Hillary” -- is illustrated with an image of Clinton's face pasted onto a planet at the center of the universe, something editors said was intended to show “the gravitational pull of a possible 2016 campaign.”

A picture of the cover hit Twitter before the magazine posted the actual story and the reaction was instantaneous.

“Bizarre,” Newsmax and Time magazine agreed. “Might just creep you out,” the left-leaning Talking Points Memo warned. “A Legitimate Dadaist Masterpiece,” said celebrity bible Vanity Fair.

Arem Duplessis, design director for the magazine, took to a blog to quell the riotous response.

"When we created the cover ... about Hillary Rodham Clinton's influence on various people within her political universe, the immediate idea that came to mind was Clinton's face embedded on a planet," Duplessis wrote, "similar to the man-in-the-moon image from the 1902 silent film 'Le Voyage Dans la Lune.' "

It could have been worse, Duplessis hinted.

“At first we were going to put faces on celestial bodies orbiting around her,” he said, “but it felt like overkill.”

GOP writes new rules for 2016 primaries

Hoping to avoid a third straight presidential election defeat, the Republican National Committee unveiled new rules for the party's 2016 presidential nominating process that officials hope will discourage states from holding their nominating contests earlier and earlier.

The new rules protect the status of traditional early-voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, all of which would vote in February. Other states would have to schedule their nominating contests for March 1 or later.

The RNC failed in the past to prevent state parties from moving up their primaries, which then caused traditional early-voting states to move theirs up even earlier. In 2012, that maneuvering pushed the Iowa caucuses to immediately after New Year's Day with the New Hampshire primary barely a week later, making it difficult for candidates to campaign effectively in either crucial state.

To discourage that kind of jockeying -- and the problems it causes for candidates -- the RNC is proposing tougher new penalties for states that move up their election dates in hopes of increasing their influence on the nominating process.

States with 30 nominating delegates, like Florida, would be allowed to send just nine of them to the nominating convention if they broke the rules. States with fewer than 30 delegates would be allowed to send only six to the convention. That change would reduce the very influence states were hoping to increase by voting early.