Obama’s Propagandistic Iconography: the Making of a Messiah

June 22, 2008 | Filed Under 00Publius Contributor, Democrats/Leftists, Elections, Media Bias, News, President, Society/Culture, Warner Todd Huston | 5 Comments

-By Warner Todd Huston

A photographic essay of Obama propaganda and the Media’s willing assistance with it

In America we have always been a skeptical people. One of our states even has a skeptical motto. Missouri calls itself the “Show Me State” proving that Missourians don’t imagine they’d be apt to have the wool pulled over their eyes too readily. Consequently, when most American citizens look at their politicians they usually view them through a prism of skepticism and since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, our skepticism has almost bordered on the irrational. (Photo with Obama logo behind by Reuters)

The American press has traditionally been even harder on our politicians and government than even the average American. Since the first days of our country, the press has savaged, doubted, dug up dirt and attacked our politicians, seeming to never believe a word the pols say. From George Washington to George Bush, the press has been at odds with politicians. Yet, for some unexplainable reason, the pretentiousness and presumption of Barack Obama is being allowed to pass uncommented upon. The media especially is allowing him to make all sorts of claims that they should never allow anyone else to get away with. They are unquestioning with his claim to be the candidate of “change” and the candidate that will “reach across the aisle.” Neither claim can be substantiated by the man’s career thus far. He does not reach across the aisle and he is responsible for no great program of change. A properly skeptical press would ask for the proof of Obmam’s claims, but they merely smile and allow him to ramble on as if what he is saying is unassailable.

But the media is especially compliant where it concerns the Obama campaign’s graphic designs, displays that can be so easily compared to religious iconography or even old style communist propaganda. The overblown, obscenely reverential posters featuring Obama’s upturned face in Jesus-like poses have gone uncommented upon by what should be a hard-nosed, doubtful media. These over-the-top graphic images in the form of posters and campaign literature design are amazing for their obvious propagandistic style, yet the media seem not to find any reason to be off put by the absurdity of these graphics. Nor have they noticed the campaign art’s similarity to communist imagery. One can’t help but wonder why this blatant re-use of the graphic style used by Stalin, Hitler and Mao has raised not the slightest question in the minds of the American media?

Obama’s most recent graphic arrogance took the form of a faux “great seal” similar to the one seen on the podium of the president of the United States. On Friday, June 20, Obama met with a dozen Democratic governors in Chicago. The room featured a nice nameplate for each governor, but in front of Barack Obama was displayed an amazing bit of presumption in the form of a seal saying “Obama for America” and taking the form of an official seal the sort one might find from a government office. (Seal Photo: Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

And the Obama campaign has been inundated with helpful citizen propagandists like Los Angeles-based street artist Shepard Fairey who is responsible for creating the ubiquitous HOPE poster, the poster that started a rash of artists and designers hoping to catch the Obama wave to fame.

The HOPE poster has a companion poster, PROGRESS.

As well as the similar CHANGE version. But there are many others out there.

And all of them seem to evoke the graphic tradition of communist propaganda.

One has but to view a few communist posters meant to keep the people reminded of the god-like status of their communist dictators and oppressors to see the stunning similarity that the Obama posters reveal with their communist progenitors.

It’s impossible to view these communist posters without seeing how they resemble the Obama campaign posters.

Of course, it is one thing that the Obama campaign itself has so easily expressed its inner propagandist, emulating communist graphics. After all, they are certainly free to do as they like with their own image. However, that the media has seen fit not to comment on Obama’s absurd artistic pretensions is bad enough, but to make matters worse, the media has been lending the Obama campaign assistance in turning Barack Obama from mere politician to religious icon on top of the campaign’s own communist inspired graphics.

Let’s take a look at how Cuba’s Fidel Castro was once depicted by his supporters, for instance. Here are two images from a 1959 magazine called “Bohemia” where Castro was drawn in Christ-like poses, face upturned, a pious look upon his benevolent countenance.

One might laugh if Castro’s murderous regime wasn’t so serious.

But the media has also made of Obama a sort of religious icon with magazine covers like Newsweek…


And Rolling Stone.

Of course, it isn’t just magazines that have given Obama the benefit of the look of a messiah. One might possibly excuse a magazine because they are, it might be remembered, in the business of selling magazines. A flashy cover might just make those issues fly off the stands a bit more, of course.

But, what about the news wires and newspapers? Aren’t they supposed to be less interested in pure capitalism and more interested in the real news? Shouldn’t they be less inclined to fall for Obamania?

Sadly, it looks like they are swooning for Barack Obama as badly as the “street artists” and magazine sellers.

So, not to be left out, Reuters, the Associated Press, and various other news services, news papers and media outlets have joined in to portray Obama in all sorts of images that recall religious iconography. Some images seem to show Obama with a halo.

Or preaching from the pulpit.

Surrounded by worshippers seeking his touch as if he were a faith healer.

Juxtaposed with religious symbols.

Or in otherwise ethereal poses.

One has to wonder why an otherwise hard bitten, cynical media establishment is allowing itself to be so used in this way? The obvious answer, of course, is that the media is not an observer, not a “reporter” or commentator on American politics. The media is an active participant and they have chosen sides. They have joined the Barack Obama team and are more than happy to put their normal cynicism aside to help Barack Obama to achieve elevation from a junior Senator with little experience with nothing to sell to president of the United States of America.

I’d love to say that the small handful of photos I’ve included in this report is all there is to the Obamification of the media. Unfortunately what I presented here is but a tiny handful of examples. The media have become the Obama campaign’s propaganda arm in perfect emulation of the most blatant examples of human history. But, for all those other examples, at least they were generally under the thumb of an oppressive, despotic government of one sort or another. This time, it is the supposed free and open press acting the part of propaganda minister.

“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.



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