Origin of the Obama & supporters = cult meme

Let’s see how GQ I can keep this OP (and hope the thread follows suit).

There is a fairly common ad hominem that attacks Obama and his supporters based on his perceived popularity. I’m going to assume you are familiar with it — but if not, it’s a trivial matter to point to example uses here and elsewhere.

Is there a summary of how this meme got started and popularized? Since this is GQ, please refrain from partisan claims of obviousness, that it’s a natural outcome of a messiah complex, or vague, unsupported references to a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. It’s not that I don’t mind getting off track (this is good fodder for both GD and the Pit), but I’m hoping to keep it in GQ long enough to get a factual answer.



I feel weird posting in GQ with an answer that I can’t provide a specific cite for, but I would assume that this label comes from Obama supporters being, in large part, an inspired and fired up group who truly believes in Obama as a person and a leader, vs. the standard, “Eh, this guy’s pretty good I guess” that generally accompanies candidates for office.

During the primaries, TV people would often interview Obama’s supporters, rather than Obama himself.

Many of these supporters had more enthusiasm than verbal skills.

They would talk about George Bush in rather extreme, near-apocalyptic terms. Then they would talk about how the amazing, wonderful Barack Obama was going to save the country from that dastardly, evil George Bush.

The way they gushed, it reminded a lot of us of a Christian fundamentalist talking about his personal relationship with Jesus.

Right, what the ad hominem is attacking is fairly clear. But all politicians have ardent and enthusiastic supporters that demonize their opponents in strong language. I really don’t think (though in GQ I’ll be happy to be disabused of this notion) that the Obama-supporter stereotype is a natural and inevitable conclusion.

To draw an analogy, consider the question: where did the “Kerry didn’t deserve his medals” meme come from? There is a fairly concrete answer (I think) that X met with Y, formed, among other things, SBVFT, published a book, etc. While some could argue that he really was a pansy during the war, until the meme got started even his opponents lauded his service.

I’m not suggesting that the Obama attack has such a disingenuous or even as concrete a provenance, but I don’t believe that it is a spontaneous occurrence. Of course, this being GQ, that is a rebuttable assumption.

The meme for so long throughout the primaries was that Obama was an empty suit, that all he had was rhetoric, that he didn’t have any experience or skills or anything like that, so that his ardent supporters must obviously, then, be brainwashed cultic minions. It wasn’t even begun by any vast right-wing anythings. It was originally a Hillary-supporter meme. I do remember being called a cultist by Hillary supporters right here on the Straight Dope at the time.

I first heard it during a Glenn Beck rant, but I doubt if he originated it.

Wasn’t there stories of women (or maybe a woman) who fainted during one or more of his early campaign stops?

When I watched the Convention, I saw weeping. Reminded me of documentary video’s of Elvis.

While fainting or weeping is not necessarily cultish in of themselves, it does give the impression that the crowd is acting out of strong emotion, and from there a conclusion may be drawn that the crowd’s attraction to a candidate is also purely an emotional one… etc… and so on.

If you were already predisposed to disliking a candidate, watching folks swoon for him is going to be met with rolleye’s, at the least.

The emotional reaction to the “Yes We Can” music video inspired a lot of this.

I’ve seen some freaky paintings being done by die-hard Obama supporters. Like the man coming up from the waves like a modern-day Venus. Presumably most of his supporters aren’t cult-crazy, but there are some real nutcases out there, who claim he’s the Lightbringer Who Shall Save Us All, or some other nonsense.

Part of it is because the previous two Democratic candidates have been so UNCHARISMATIC. The Democrats have finally cottoned on and gone for someone how CAN inspire people. The reactions, both positive and negative, are a direct response to that.

That video and this one ofMy American Prayer. I actually like the American Prayer one a little better.

I blame all those posters that put bad puns on Obama’s name in their location fields. :slight_smile:

It’s not like Obama’s the only one, Ron Paul had a lot of supporters that seemed like they’d gotten a strong dose of the Kool-Aid. Obama just has more of them due to his level of support, I think.