I did a double-take because it just seemed so wrong. Hipster shirts with "vintage" or retro looks are quite popular right now, and I often find them funny or nostalgic. But it never occurred to me that the trend would crop up in presidential politics, and the resulting combination was jarring.
In searching for an image of the shirt I saw, I came upon hundreds and hundreds of different options for trendy Obama t-shirts. Some recall the 70s...
Some even evoke Soviet era propaganda...
You can see many of the myriad options here. I figured that this just reflected the cult of personality that has evolved around Obama, because the site I linked to, CafePress.com, is one where individuals submit their designs for products, and CafePress prints them on demand. In other words, it's nothing official.
I then decided to check the official Barack Obama source, and found this...
Yes, his official campaign website is selling a t-shirt that is eerily similar to the iconic posterized image of Che Guevara that is de rigueur with the hipster/leftist set. Is it an unimportant coincidence? A cynical, calculated attempt to hype his cult of personality with the 18-34 demographic? It's probably both.
I recognize that none of this could be considered deep, hard-hitting analysis, but I do think it's an interesting cultural phenomenon, and helps to highlight the creepy, cultish adoration of Obama's followers. The weird, superficial nature of these hipster t-shirts is a perfect complement to the vacuous campaign and person of Barack Obama.
At the Rule of Reason blog, Ed Cline made some fascinating points about a related issue; the mainstream media's treatment of Obama-as-Messiah, as seen through the prism of the particular choice of a photo to run with an article:
In the New York Magazine article, "Money Chooses Sides," note the composition of the photograph that accompanies it. I do not think it is accidental. I do not know if the photographer (or even Obama himself) intended the tableau, but of all the pictures doubtless taken of the event, this was the one selected by the magazine's editors to illustrate Obama's influence. Their motive may have been mockery of the guests or unintended adulation of Obama. That is irrelevant. The picture captures the essence of Obama's appeal.The photo is quite striking, and Cline's description is spot on. Below is Raphael's version of this scene, circa 1516, and my Photoshopped version (a poor attempt at rising to Cline's challenge to political cartoonists).
Obama seems to descend the stairs, microphone in hand, looking very preacherly as he brings the "gospel" to the mortals below. All the mortals gape up at him with undisguised worship, as though he were indeed a messiah or savior, and are hanging on his every word. Remember that these are all Park and Fifth Avenue millionaires there by RSVP. A good political cartoonist could render the photograph to show Obama in Moses-like robes, one hand raised with an instructive finger pointed in the air, the other arm cradling two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments of socialism (the words, however, would be fuzzy and nearly illegible).
The only person not gaping at Obama is George Soros, seated directly behind Obama's left. He looks vaguely bored but also smugly content with what he is hearing and with the undivided attention of the other guests.
I like what I did with the photo, but I think the original photo is more impressive because it's real. I think that, assuming Obama wins, if America ever wakes up and looks back at his failed presidency and the mix of mass hysteria and corrupt philosophy that swept this demagogue into office, this photograph could be one of the iconic images of the times that helps to explain what went wrong.