Obama's Propagandistic Iconography: the Making of a Messiah

By Warner Todd Huston Posted in Comments (34) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

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.

Read on . . .

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.

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This is the same media that collectively $@%@ itself when they thought there was a cross in the background of Huckabee's Christmas ad.

If Obama gets elected, he will have done so with less scrutinty than an average Podunk city council member. Many Americans and United States institutions have been childlike in their amazement. Obama's single digit-lead should be about 20 points more than it is.

this isnt new. the same thing happened in 2004 wth President Bush.


i appreciate your compiling these though - will have t do an Obama Halo post now.

Dean Nation is now Nation-Building: Purple politics, muscular liberalism, principled pragmatism

With President Bush, religion was viewed as a negative.

I remember the news stories about how we can't have a kook in the white house.... because President Bush prayed.

Instead, with Obama, it is people holding him up as a Divine thing, a Savior, to save the country from Bush.

And deliver it into Socialism.... from which there is no peaceable existance nor peaceable return.

Dependence is Slavery.

always looking up at a 45% angle? Are they looking for inspiration or just a fly-by of Tu-95 bombers? Or, in Obama's case, the Mother Ship?

I wonder if Leroy Neiman and Peter Max have done their requisite Obama paintings yet.

The difference is, Obama IS the Messiah, whereas Bush was trying to act like one because he's a neoconservative Jesus Freak bent on conquering the Middle East in order to make Jerusalem safe for the return of Christ and the institution of His millennial reign.

With Obama, he (He?) will be reigning in the White House, on the throne of David (Axelrod) forever.

as I read your excellent essay. So many so willing to hand away the America I love just so they can pat themselves on the back that America elected a black man. Otherwise, Obama has nothing to offer except the color of his skin and the destruction of our country.

How's that for change?

M Penny

That stuff makes my stomach turn. It seems too many people have an urge to embrace an earthly "messiah". Scary stuff, folks. Stay tuned... it'll probably get worse.

Stand up, and let's acquit ourselves like men.

Nobama seems to be insane...

can you just imagine all of those images in the 70's or 80's he would have won with 65 percent of the vote!

Won't happen this time around we the grateful citizens of the US have a new media willing to call out the dinosaurs on their platitudes and lies and showcase their deception.

Freedom of Religion NOT Freedom from Religion

The style is eerily similar to WWII propaganda posters as well:


I recently saw an exhibit of such posters at the Lincoln Library in Springfield, IL. Definitely parallels in the artwork, style, etc. and what you've posted here. (shivers!)

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You're just saying what?

Their link is to GERMAN World War 2 propaganda posters.

What does that have to do with the Pro-Communist Democrats in office during World War 2?

(Yes, Pro-Communist. You don't call him "Uncle Joe" Stalin and hold Alger Hiss close to you if you're Anti-Communist)

Dependence is Slavery.

See my response. I thought the link was to American WWII posters, then I clicked on it (my apologies). And yes, as you say, our government was infected with pro-Marxists... which was my implication (before I clicked on the link).

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No worries.

Glad we're all on the same page now. heh.

Dependence is Slavery.

I am not calling Obama "Hitler". I am saying there is similarity in the graphics and style with WWII propaganda. (I'll call him other things, but not a Nazi or Hitler).

Accuse him of a Messianic complex? Draw parallels with eschatology? Yeah. Hitler? No.

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Yeah. He'll let OTHER people kill off the Jews.

Primarily, President Fonzie from Iran.

Dependence is Slavery.

"Cloud. Your brothers have rebelled and I am becomming hot. Cover the sun and shade me now."

This signature left intentionally blank

VERY TRUE! I have noticed the images appearing to make the man look like JC himself. LOL!

Pamela Smith

In yesterday's Orlando Sentinel, there was a Sports section front page story about xNFL linebacker Reggie Williams. He is suffering from osteomyelitis in his right knee. There is a large picture showing him walking on crutches with a physical therapist, his knee encased in a brace. Handwritten on the brace is: "Obama Heals".

When people start buying into the image this completely, it's time to be very concerned. Concerned that he can win, concerned about what will happen if he does, and concerned about what will happen if he doesn't.

Fortuna Favet Fortibus

"When people start buying into the image this completely, it's time to be very concerned. Concerned that he can win, concerned about what will happen if he does, and concerned about what will happen if he doesn't."

I haven't yet thought of what kind of reaction there will be if Obama loses, especially if he loses by a relatively narrow margin to McCain...yikes...

The Left does deify their politicians(see Bill Clinton). As a conservative, I merely tolerate mine(see George Bush/John McCain). That is why they win elections. They care a hell of alot more than I do.

I wonder if they're going to buy carbon credits for the trains they roll out to show Obama's movies.

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It's really stunning just how similar the Obama artwork is to that commie propaganda.

Feed your brain at The Hot Joints

the same pose (I am talking straight photoshop Obama's head). The black and white Obama '08 is a riff on a MLK photo. That is why they seem so familiar.

Not quite commie propoganda, but a little presumptuous still, and not original.

Isn't the "Obama For America" slogan (seen on the top of the seal) a blatant imitation of the slogan "Bartlett For America" from the TV series West Wing? Just wondering.

Enjoyed the article! I see a lot of the HOPE posters in bumper sticker size on cars here in Treehugger Central (Portland, Oregon)... I've always thought it was vaguely if not overtly Communist and propoganda

Check out this montage tying the HOPE poster to Che:

Enjoyed the article! I see a lot of the HOPE posters in bumper sticker size on cars here in Treehugger Central (Portland, Oregon)... I've always thought it was vaguely if not overtly Communist and propoganda

Check out this montage tying the HOPE poster to Che:

I seriously doubt your sincerity.

Weren't you here before?


in the thirties and through WWII. It was one of the many alphabet soup programs and was established to employ America's starving artists during the Depression. Since many, probably most, "starving" artists were socialists or communists, much of the "art" was in the "Soviet Realism" style.

They made posters about all sorts of things from county fairs, art shows, parades, etc. to lots of signage about worker safety and union rights. It went on to become the dominant style for lots of WWII signage. Much of the signage associated with union activities continues to be done in this style, which, I suspect, is where the BHO link comes from.

In my last gig before I retired, I had my whole office area decorated with WPA labor-related signs, many of which are decidedly un-PC by today's standards but I got away with it because of their "historical significance."
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