Friday, August 15, 2008

Why I don't get American Politics

The two logos of Obama - one of these you may have seen, whilst the other looks a little bit like something in Revelation (allegedly).

First some context: In a giant leap backwards to the middle ages, millennial fever is big in the US. In a Gallup poll, 70% of respondents believed in the existence of the Devil. That number has been rising, from around 50% in the 1990s to around 68% in the 2000s[1].

70 million copies of the Left Behind books have been sold in the US. In these books a charismatic politician, Nicolae Carpathia becomes president of Romania due to his intelligence, charisma, knowledge of international affairs, sane-sounding policies to unite the world in peace. But wait! Nicolae Carpathia is none other than... the Antichrist.

There are already several odd people out there who are pushing the Obama/Carpathia "comparison".

Some seem to have genuine concerns which makes me want to take them by the hand and give them the history of millenial cults from Roman times till now.

Others deliberately use the comparison between an antichrist figure from popular novels and Obama, who was calling for peace and cooperation whilst in Berlin. And this is why I don't get American politics - the arguments aren't about who has the best plan for the economy, the successful ending of two overseas wars, the protection of US interests. No, it's about whether one of the nominees looks like a fictional Antichrist (I know - tautology).

Mike has (rightly) complained that I lumped him in with the sadly deluded. He and those like him know exactly what they're doing - they're using a specious comparison with a widely known hate figure to groundlessly tarnish a candidate in an election. "Look everyone - Obama is a successful politician. Carpathia was a successful politician (though fictional) and you wouldn't want to vote for someone like Carpathia would you. He was the Antichrist."

Mike's comparison is based on the fact that Obama seems to be, well, statesmanlike as far as I can tell. That he's had the audacity to visit countries outside the US, to be well educated, to speak foreign languages - these all, obviously, make Obama a bit dodgy. Not on their own, you understand, but if we can make success seem like a bad thing by tying the "Carpathia" tin-can to it's tail, well, let's just see that dog try to run now, eh?

If it were just the blogosphere that would be one thing. No-one on the internet has the duty to promote meaningful political debate. But the politicians themselves have a duty to campaign on issues that mean something to their constituents. Or so you'd think. But now the McCain camp has joined in the name calling and is blowing that dog whistle for all it's worth. A professionally made campaign video aired in the last few days was supposed to look like a satire (all be it of New Yorker Cover unfunniness). But with fonts and imagery taken directly from the Left Behind cover artwork, and a very odd choice of the old, barely used, not widely recognised Obama "presidential seal" logo, Time Magazine thinks there may be more to this than meets the eye:

"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'."

[1]Interestingly, the percentage of those polled who believed in the devil reached 68% in May 2001, before the 9/11 attacks. It has remained consistently high in the Gallup polls since that date.


Mike said...

Funny you proclaim yourself to be a woman with a full cheek of tongue yet fail to recognize that trait in others. If you'd bother to read my posts before calling me a "nut job" you might have noticed that I don't believe Obama is the antichrist.

As I said The Prince of Darkness would know his committee assignments and how many U.S. States there are.

Auntie Em said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Auntie Em said...

You likened statements made by Obama calling for peace and progress to statements by a fictional character who is tring to bring about armageddon. That sounds pretty nutty to me, whether you seriously consider him to be the antichrist or not. But sure, I'll buy your argument. I'm also sure your comparison of Obama's speech in Berlin to the Nuremburg rally was equally intended to be funny.

FWIW I can't bring myself to believe that *anyone* on that list thinks that Obama is Carpathia. I think a few people who don't like his politics are trying to engender a knee-jerk mistrust of him based on comparisons with a fictional character in some widely read fiction. You're smart enough, I'm guessing from your blog, to know that that's a dirty trick.

You do seem slightly less shrieky than some of the other links in the "nut job" roll call, so I'll amend my post accorgingly.

Mike said...

Well thanks for the amendment. But you still missed the point that MY post was tongue in cheek.

But the reality is the thought process behind Carpathia's comments and Obama's comments IS eerily similar. All I did was show the comparisons.

And I didn't mention Nuremburg. That comment could fit any number of scenarios.

Obama's not the antichrist. But he IS dangerous.

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