Obama the Antichrist?

And speaking of the rapture ... actually, no, I don't think I have much to say about this nonsense, except that the people who think Obama might be the Antichrist and the people who think the McCain campaign is cannily designing its campaign ads to exploit fears that Obama might be the Antichrist deserve each other. (The difference, of course, is that the former group consists of minor-league kooks, obscure bloggers and chain-email peddlers, whereas the latter consists of Democratic strategists and writers for Time Magazine - the same Time, one might note, that has not once but twice put Barack Obama on its cover with a halo around his head.)

Update: Oh, for God's sake. No, Ezra, Amy Sullivan's piece is not "compelling and unsettling." Unless you find yourself compelled by arguments like this:

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.

Um ... the light in the ad is not "sinister," it's heavenly and golden - a burst of sun piercing the clouds, a staple of kitschy religious paintings the world over. Throw in the cheerful (i.e. non-sinister) gospel choir playing in the background, and you have exactly the kind of images and music "that might be expected in an ad spoofing him as a messiah."

Unless you're a brilliant Democratic cryptographer, that is:

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.

Sapp knows that the phrasing and images could just be dismissed as a peculiar coincidence. After all, it was Oprah Winfrey who told an Iowa crowd that Obama was "the one!" But, he insists, "the frequency of these images and references don't make any sense unless you're trying to send the message that Obama could be the Antichrist."

Really? They don't make any sense? So inserting Obama's quasi-presidential seal - which has the Democratic nominee's name prominently displayed on it, whether the viewer knows about the seal's back-story or not - into giggle-inducing footage of Charlton Heston parting of the Red Sea makes no sense in the context of Obama's declaration that his nomination would be remembered as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," which is the clip immediately preceding The 10 Commandments shout-out, but it does make sense in the context of a subtle allusion to the dream of the four beasts in the seventh book of Daniel. But of course!

Meanwhile, a reader points out that the gang at RedState are selling "Obama as the Antichrist" t-shirts and stickers in their online store. And so they are - along with shirts that say "The Enemy of My Enemy Is McCain" and "Cheney-Bush '08" and "United Embittered Gun-Toting Jesus-Loving States of America." This pattern would seem to suggest that they're calling Obama the Antichrist as (ahem) a joke - one that's far closer to the "Frodo Has Failed" gag than to, say, the endless, non-joking Bush-Hitler comparisons (which, for the record, have a stronger Google presence than the Obama-Antichrist meme), and one whose humor depends entirely on the well-documented tendency among journalists and Obamaphiles (but I repeat myself) to portray the Democratic nominee as some sort of messiah figure. This strikes me as just ever-so-slightly different from using subliminal messages to persuade nutty fundamentalists that Obama really is Nicolae Carpathia, which is what the McCain campaign stands accused of doing.

Update (II): See also Andrew Stuttaford.

Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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