|Barack Obama tosses a water bottle after woman faints at Seattle campaign rally (Courtesy Seattle Post-Intelligencer)|
Call it the Barack Obama traveling salvation show – campaign rallies and speeches that seem like the secular counterpart of tent-meeting revivals and evangelistic sermons common in the U.S. a century ago.
And, in apparent similarity to the religious enthusiasm of that bygone era, some of those coming to hear the Democrat presidential candidate “preach” his message are fainting as he speaks.
A video compilation by Breitbart.TV shows Obama on several occasions breaking off his speeches to address someone who has collapsed, usually close to the stage, and to call for medical personnel while he offers bottled water to the overcome supporter.
The similarity between the events and the emotive opportunity it offers the candidate has some on the web questioning whether the campaign is employing shills or whether the phenomenon is evidence of fanaticism and cause for concern.
“Democratic Sen. Barack Obama eschews the savior language used to describe his campaign for the White House, but it seemed rather natural when he interrupted 50 minutes of occasional soaring rhetoric to toss a bottle of water to a fainting woman in the throng below, then calmly gave out orders to ensure she was well.”
A similar incident occurred when Obama spoke in Hartford, Conn., on the eve of Super Tuesday:
“At one point, about half way through his speech, Senator Obama stopped to ask for EMT support and water for a woman who had apparently fainted in the standee section directly in front of the stage,” reported the the Choate school newspaper. “Michael Selberg ’08 who attended the rally found this swift action very revealing of Obama’s character. He said, ‘Evidently, Obama pays attention to what is going on around him, to his constituents. He was watching to see how people were reacting to his speech. He was a very powerful speaker and evidently he overwhelmed one person.’”
In January, the Los Angeles Times reported, “Obama’s first and only rally on election day came to a sudden and lengthy stop when a young woman in the Dartmouth College gym fainted, and was eventually rolled off on a gurney by emergency medical technicians. At first Obama half-narrated the episode, saying soothing things like, ‘She’s OK,’ ‘She’s talking.’ But the longer she lay on the floor, the quieter Obama got, standing on the podium, arms folded, looking worried as the medical crew worked.”
At a September rally in Montecito, Calif., “a woman standing in front of the stage appeared to faint as Obama spoke about Iraq,” the Associated Press reported. “The candidate paused and asked the crowd to make way for firefighters. One supporter shouted, ‘You’re a good man,’ leaving Obama momentarily at a loss for words. ‘Well, I’m not the only one stopping to help her,’ he said, sounding almost embarrassed.”
While the string of faintings and the candidate’s response have impressed Obama’s supporters, others aren’t so certain.
One unidentified poster to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article on the fainting spells, made a connection to ’70s spiritual guru Jim Jones, who led his Bay Area followers to South America where over 900 died in a mass suicide:
“No one, other than Jim Jones – founder of the People’s Temple, has captivated crowds like Obama. This has nothing to do with the ‘Kool-Aid’ party Jones foisted on his people. Watch footage of his sermons at the People’s Temple, while in San Francisco. Same crying, passing out, etc.”
“MuncsMom,” a poster at the Lucianne.com news forum, echoed the theme:
“Barack Obama is the black Jim Jones. I like George Bush and worked hard for him but never felt THIS way. Pretty scary,” she wrote.
“Three of the liberal women in the neighborhood were at a Ladies Night Out ‘hood party last week and were gushing and swooning over Obama. One of them said she’d like to ‘do’ him. These are grown women with kids. … We’re now reaping the fruits of Phil Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, Desperate Housewives, Sex in the City, and of course, Oprah!”
Radio host Michael Medved yesterday said he concluded, after viewing several videos, the fainting episodes were staged. He noted the faint always occurred near the stage, Obama remained calm and used the same words in each of the occurrences and the person who collapsed was always a woman.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer photographer Joshua Trujillo rejected the fake vs. fanatic choice, noting that people often arrive early and unprepared to see their favorite candidate, standing for hours to get the best position.
“There are always people that faint. Guaranteed,” Trujillo said. “When somebody has to stand at one spot, at a view up front of their candidate, and they wait hours upon hours with no water, no food, it’s expected and understandable.”
At the Seattle appearance, the first Obama supporters arrived three hours before the candidate came on stage.
“We have to get there hours in advance. If we’re not smart enough to take food and water, then by the time the candidate comes out, we’re feeling a little faint,” he said.
He noted that he had seen two women faint at a Hillary Clinton rally the day before. They were taken away on stretchers.
A poster named psych92, responding to Trujillo’s explanation, noted he had seen people faint at a John Kerry rally.
“Somehow, I don’t think anyone was joining a Kerry Kult,” he wrote.
“That would be from narcolepsy, I believe,” fired back an unidentified poster.
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