The Situationist

The Psychology of Barack Obama as the Antichrist

Posted by The Situationist Staff on August 8, 2008

We recently highlighted the possible role of implicit associations in the John McCain ad connecting Barack Obama to Britany Spears and Paris Hilton. To continue the discussion of possible subconscious manipulations in political ads, we bring you an interesting new article on McCain’s “The One” ad by Amy Sullivan of Time Magazine. Sullivan examines whether The One (available above) implicitly suggests that Obama is the Antichrist. We excerpt her article below.

* * *

The Republican nominee’s advisers brush off the charges, arguing that the spot was meant to be a “creative” and “humorous” way of poking fun at Obama’s popularity by painting him as a self-appointed messiah. But even this innocuous interpretation of the ad — which includes images of Charlton Heston as Moses and culled clips that make Obama sound truly egomaniacal — taps into a conversation that has been gaining urgency on Christian radio and political blogs and in widely circulated e-mail messages that accuse Obama of being the Antichrist.

The ad was the creation of Fred Davis, one of McCain’s top media gurus as well as a close friend of former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed and the nephew of conservative Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe. It first caught the attention of Democrats familiar with the Left Behind series, a fictionalized account of the end-time that debuted in the 1990s and has sold nearly 70 million books worldwide. “The language in there is so similar to the language in the Left Behind books,” says Tony Campolo, a leading progressive Evangelical speaker and author.

As the ad begins, the words “It should be known that in 2008 the world shall be blessed. They will call him The One” flash across the screen. The Antichrist of the Left Behind books is a charismatic young political leader named Nicolae Carpathia who founds the One World religion (slogan: “We Are God”) and promises to heal the world after a time of deep division. One of several Obama clips in the ad features the Senator saying, “A nation healed, a world repaired. We are the ones that we’ve been waiting for.”

Image from Left Behind Series

Image from Left Behind Series

The visual images in the ad, which Davis says has been viewed even more than McCain’s “Celeb” ad linking Obama to the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, also seem to evoke the cover art of several Left Behind books. But they’re not the cartoonish images of clouds parting and shining light upon Obama that might be expected in an ad spoofing him as a messiah. Instead, the screen displays a sinister orange light surrounded by darkness and later the faint image of a staircase leading up to heaven.

Perhaps the most puzzling scene in the ad is an altered segment from The 10 Commandments that appears near the end. A Moses-playing Charlton Heston parts the animated waters of the Red Sea, out of which rises the quasi-presidential seal the Obama campaign used for a brief time earlier this summer before being mocked into retiring it. The seal, which features an eagle with wings spread, is not recognizable like the campaign’s red-white-and-blue “O” logo. That confused Democratic consultant Eric Sapp until he went to his Bible and remembered that in the apocalyptic Book of Daniel, the Antichrist is described as rising from the sea as a creature with wings like an eagle.

* * *

Mara Vanderslice, another Democratic consultant, who handled religious outreach for the 2004 Kerry campaign, agrees. “If they wanted to be funny, if they really wanted to play up the idea that Obama thinks he’s the Second Coming, there were better ways to do it,” she says. “Why use these awkward lines like, ‘And the world will receive his blessings’?”

* * *

It’s not hard to see how some Obama haters might be tempted to make the comparison. In the Left Behind books, Carpathia is a junior Senator who speaks several languages, is beloved by people around the world and fawned over by a press corps that cannot see his evil nature, and rises to absurd prominence after delivering just one major speech. Hmmh. But serious Antichrist theorists don’t stop there. Everything from Obama’s left-handedness to his positive rhetoric to his appearance on the cover of this magazine has been cited as evidence of his true identity. One chain e-mail claims that the Antichrist was prophesied to be “A man in his 40s of MUSLIM descent,” which would indeed sound ominous if not for the fact that the Book of Revelation was written at least 400 years before the birth of Islam.

The speculation reached a fever pitch after Obama’s European trip and the Berlin speech in which he called for global unity. Conservative Christian author Hal Lindsey declared in an essay on WorldNetDaily, “Obama is correct in saying that the world is ready for someone like him — a messiah-like figure, charismatic and glib … The Bible calls that leader the Antichrist. And it seems apparent that the world is now ready to make his acquaintance.” The conservative website now sells mugs and T shirts that sport a large “O” with horns and the words “The Anti-Christ” underneath.

* * *

A new TIME poll finds that the most conservative Evangelicals are the least enthusiastic about McCain’s candidacy. Convincing them that Obama does have two horns and a tail might be the best way of getting them to vote. That’s what worries Campolo, who also sits on the Democratic Party’s platform committee. “Those books have created a subliminal language, and I think judgments will be made unconsciously about Barack Obama,” he says. “It scares the daylights out of me.”

* * *

To read the rest of the article, which is well worth the read, click here. To read a blog devoted to the belief that Obama is the Antichrist, click here.  As a point of comparison to McCain’s “The One” ad, check out the Swift Boat ad that was waged against John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election.

For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Do We Miss Racial Stereotypes Today that Will Be Evident Tomorrow?,” “Perceptions of Racial Divide,” “New Yorker Cover of the Obamas and Source Amnesia,” “Voting for a Face,” “The Situation of Swift-Boating,” On Being a Mindful Voter,” “Naïve Cynicism in Election 2008: Dispositionism v. Situationism?,” “Implicit Associations in the 2008 Presidential Election,” “The Situation of Political Animals,” and “Your Brain on Politics.” For other posts on the Situation of politics, click here.


20 Responses to “The Psychology of Barack Obama as the Antichrist”

  1. Alice said

    The full memo, complete with some pretty compelling images, can be found here Everyone should read this. It certainly shocked me to discover the real audience McCain is targeting with this ad and the message he is sending them.

  2. Maya, CVT said

    Well then, what does this say about McCain? At best it seems like he’s a sarcastic weasel (no offense to the mustelids) at worst it seems like he’s attempting a sinister method of getting elected. Either way, we’re moving to Canada if this guy gets elected. Can we be sure about his motives? Maybe he really does think that Obama is a terrorist. Nothing like having an unstable Republican running for president. Again.

  3. Andy Vance said

    To continue the discussion of possible subconscious manipulations in political ads

    The claim isn’t that the ad is a “subconscious manipulation.” To someone steeped in this brand of eschatology, the associations are quite explicit.

  4. I, as an average American Citizen cannot believe the ad posted by the McCain campaign. It is insensitive and very unwise. To stoop to such low levels to try to turn Christians against an opponent running for the Presidency of our great nation is appalling at the very least. I will certainly not be voting for McCain. I am sorry to say he has proved himself unworthy of that position on many occasion.

  5. nearlynormalized said

    Fear, fear, fear the man is a champion and the dirt diggers are at the front of deceiptful manner of fear. Obama “President of the USA”, and pride will follow.

  6. madmonq said

    Don’t these morons realize the rise of the anti-Christ is something they want? The slaughter of billions of their fellow human beings by a wrathful god is just around the corner. Just as they’d hoped for.

    At least that means we know Obama will win the election.

  7. jeremy said

    “Either way, we’re moving to Canada if this guy gets elected.”

    I said that exact thing four years ago, and then again four years before that.

    Turns out I’d rather stay and fight the good fight, what else is there to do anyway? Guess I wouldn’t be that happy just drinking good beer, and getting health care.

  8. Maya, CVT said

    Hahha, good point Jeremy. We were very serious about moving to Canada several years ago, not only because of Bush but also because our home is getting damaged by changing weather systems. Not that Canada is immune, but the places we looked are safer than here. I then found out, unfortunately that Harper is a real piece of work and that unemployment is sky high in some places in Canada, plus we’d have to wait 5 years for any benefits or to become citizens. However, even if Obama gets elected, I seriously think that people like McCain and Bush have ruined the country and things will continue to get ugly even after Bush is out. We can’t undo climate change, sadly. We may still leave.

  9. beth said

    //One chain e-mail claims that the Antichrist was prophesied to be “A man in his 40s of MUSLIM descent,” which would indeed sound ominous if not for the fact that the Book of Revelation was written at least 400 years before the birth of Islam.//

    You’d at least expect them to get their own bullshit correct.

  10. Martin said

    If Obama is the Antichrist, and he doesn’t get elected, wouldn’t that contradict Revelations? Those Evangelicals had better vote for Obama.

  11. madmonq said

    Questions for all great Christians, Christian Americans, American Christians and/or those who do not understand these can be mutually exclusive.

    1) If America is a Christian nation founded on Christian principals, why do we allow the will of the people to decide elections rather than God’s will through the bible? In other words, shouldn’t a theocracy be better than a democracy and not the other way around?

    2) And if so, does that contradict His will and our Christian foundations because we we’re founded, by God, to be a democracy? Why are we pushing it on other nations if democracy is inferior?

    Excellent points by Beth.

  12. d said

    what is equally disturbing is people saying obama is the savior. he is neither. just a man, a man who happens to love power.

  13. metalbuoy said

    Obama IS the antichrist. he WILL win in november, and he has mainly the support of blacks, the young, the rich, the powerful, the non-religious, the europeans. you will not be able to criticize him, you will be labeled racist. the world, it has been said, will end on dec 21, 2012 and this will coincide with the end of obama’s 1st term(coincidence?) This is not some religious nut prediction of the end of the world hype that has been done many times before to no avail. This date has been backed up by scientists due to the planetary alignment that the mayans have spoken of thousand of years ago and NASA has confirmed may spell disaster, an alignment that only happens every 25000 years. the antichrist would have a 4 year free reign with the support of minions like we havent seen since hitler. wait, and we will all find out, really soon.

  14. TJ said

    Metalbuoy your an idiot, go lock yourself in a closet and dont come out untill dec 22 2012, upon when I will point at you while laughing hysterically. Madmonq- get your facts strieght, this county wasnt founded by Christians it was founded by deists. Ben Frant, Thomas J and most of the founding fathers were deists. Therefor this nation wasnt founded on Christian principles and who says it is a Christain nation, not me, but regardless of what it is, at least get your facts streight before you spout off a bunch of ignorant spudo-religious jargin

  15. kim said

    Are you kidding !!?

  16. metalbuoy said

    ‘Metalbuoy your an idiot’…its you’re, by the way, I am glad you are so much smarter than I am. What would I do without you, TJ? Oh and by the way, I am not some loon who will hide in closets waiting for the end. I have no fear, and will live my daily life with knowledge that someone with a closed mind like you cant accept. That’s just fine with me, I could care less if you live or die, really…

  17. herbroaster5 said

    “care less if you live or die” that will no doubt save u…..
    if u think someone has a closed mind it’s your job to open it….
    if your shure who the ac is then you are shurely wrong, ever heard of the great deceiver….ahh well, i grow weary of this…till’ next time i fell compelled to comment….

  18. metalbuoy said

    Ive never confessed to being a christian, herbroaster5. I am more along the lines of someone sitting back and watching this all unfold, hoping I am wrong, but seeing all these things saying I am right…I have an 11 year old daughter, I would love to be wrong but it isn’t looking likely. Now obama wants a ‘civilian army’. Can you say Antichrist now?

  19. […] – bookmarked by 3 members originally found by nickjonasgf4ever on 2008-12-06 The Psychology of Barack Obama as the Antichrist […]

  20. metalbuoy said

    Hey TJ, your (spelled wrong I know but that’s what you think is correct) an idiot now aren’t you?

    Everything I said in my October post before the election has now come true! your (haha I can barely type as ignorantly as you without cringing) looking like the true idiot now? Where are you TJ? Huh? Gonna defend youreself (spelled so TJ can understand)?

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