Today was a depressing day. A comment on Brad Delong's blog and this post at Crooked Timber convinced me that the Republican propaganda machine is consciously trying to play up fears that Obama is the Antichrist. As CT's Henry says, McCain's "The One" ad "is so staggeringly bad at achieving its purported aims that it doesn’t make sense except" when understood this way. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I first saw this video, I just found it confusing. But now it makes complete sense.
Then there's David Brooks' column today, with its repeated incantation of variations on "He is in the world, but not of it," a clear reference to the Gospel of John. The implication of both the Brooks column and the McCain ad is that Obama is like Jesus Christ, which--in the bizarre logic of the End Times crowd--is taken as evidence that he's the Antichrist.
I look around on one of the 750,000 Google hits that comes up for "Obama Antichrist," and the first one I looked at had this to say about the McCain ad:
This ad is very funny, but frankly it must mean Obama really has been portraying himself as a messiah to people, and they have been buying it. Mccain has recognized it, and I hope you have too.The same site has a series of responses to reader's objections:
Your argument: If Barack is the Antichrist(or beast etc) then why would you tell people not to vote for him? There is nothing we can do about it.How can anyone in Obama's camp possibly respond to this lunacy? It defies parody. If the Obama were to call McCain out on his ad, that would be taken as more evidence that he is the Antichrist, because that's just what the Antichrist would do!
Answer: You are right, there is nothing we can about it voting against him if he is the Antichrist, and yes that would mean Jesus is on his way. However, if Barack is just some guy, then he is clearly full of himself, and I don't think he would be a good leader, and I don't agree with his policies. I am not saying I am a big Mccain fan either.
Your argument: People have thought everyone like JFk, and Ronald Regan etc. would be the Antichrist, this happens every election cycle.
Answer: Yes, you are right on this one. Fine. However, from my perspective, and clearly many more, Obama has really been using biblical rhetoric, and people are seeing him as "the one" to save us, I see him as being unique from any leader I have ever known about, I feel strongly that there is a good chance he is the antichrist.
To try to gauge how many people might be susceptible to believing this stuff, I looked around for data on belief in the Apocalypse/Antichrist, but no survey I could find asks about this. I did find mention that the Left Behind book series, which is all based on "End Times" scenarios, has had several #1 bestsellers and has sold 60 million copies worldwide, so the numbers of potential voters who are receptive to this propaganda are not insignificant. No doubt there's a pollster in the McCain camp who knows how many End Timers there are, swing state by swing state.
I'm really at a loss for how to respond to this. For anyone who might be wondering, contrary to what that e-mail going around says, the Book of Revelation does NOT describe the Antichrist as someone with characteristics of matching those of Obama. See a full discussion here.