Citizens United’s Bad Religion

The conservative political group Citizens United, whose 2008 film about Hillary Clinton led to the Supreme Court decision bearing its name, is, as of today, distributing its anti-Obama film for free on Hulu.

Citizens United’s newest project, “The Hope and the Change,” which runs a little over an hour, is a standard rehash of anti-Obama-isms: he promised to unite the country, but stood with Skip Gates and Trayvon Martin. He promised to fix the economy, but he goes on vacation while your house is being foreclosed upon. He’s brought us socialism (health care reform), infringement of religious liberty (ditto), and, the film falsely suggests, was the mastermind of the financial industry bailouts that occurred while George W. Bush was still in office. 

It’s composed as a collage of news footage, Obama campaign appearances (with frequent shots of rapturous women), and interviews with voters claiming to have been duped by the 2008 Obama and who will never vote for him again. Prevailing theme: Obama has visited unprecedented calamity on the United States of America. Subtext: might he be the Antichrist?

The opening sequences set the stage. Obama is depicted as a crafty beguiler of mass audiences; he emerges from a plane out of the heavens as thousands swoon, cry, and cheer. He’s smug and self-congratulatory as he misleads his admirers with lofty promises. He was “charismatic,” a “knight in shining armor,” he “really did seem to have a glow about him,” and to be “the one,” former Obama supporters tell us. The followers are giddy from the cult-like deception.

 

A still from the opening montage of Citizen United’s  “The Hope and the Change”

At one point (see above), the back of Obama’s head is seen gazing up at a celestial white figure. Are we meant to think Obama contemplating his showdown with the true prince of peace, or is this a warning that Obama should be mindful of it? 

For believers in the end-times scenario in which a false messiah comes to trick the world before he is vanquished by the second coming of the true messiah, the narrative is clear: the false messiah promises peace and prosperity, but brings division and calamity. He appears to be humble and sincere; he turns out to be proud and deceitful. The “charismatic” “knight in shining armor” derisively depicted in the film’s opening sequence gives way to a president who made Rick Santelli angry but the Nobel Peace Prize Committee impressed; who would prefer to be cavorting with Hollywood celebrities than serving his constituents. He turned out to be, the film’s disaffected voters says, “a con artist” who “just wanted to get up there and show off.”

Only 28 more days.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email