Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production

Vol.52.12: THE McCHURIAN CANDIDATE

©2008, UrbisMedia

©2008, UrbisMedia

“Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” [from John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate, 1962


There are a lot of reasons not to trust John McCain. He has Cain in his name; didn’t you read your Bible? Remember what Cain did? He killed his brother and then went off to the land of Nod (which is where Ronald Reagan napped).


OK, if that won’t work, the guy’s a liar. He lies a lot, and at first when he is called on it he denies he is lying. Then he says, “OK, so I lied,” and then goes on about how he was a P.O.W. for five years, for which we are to forgive him for lying and call him a “hero.”


But he still tells lies. Like this one; last Wednesday, National Public Radio’s Steve Inskeep asked McCain if there would be “an occasion where you could imagine turning to Governor Palin for advice in a foreign policy crisis?”


McCain answered: “I’ve turned to her advice many times in the past. I can’t imagine turning to Senator Obama or Senator Biden, because they’ve been wrong.”


How can that be? McCain met Palin only twice before he selected her. Where did the “many times in the past come from”? And what would he ask her advice about, which direction is Russia? She herself lies like a . . . a . . . McCain. She was for (the part she leaves out), then against the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” Then she said that she had gone to Ireland as part of her “international experience,” where the plane she was on stopped there to re-fuel. She said she’s been to Iraq, but only went to Kuwait. But, hey, what the heck.


So what is it with McCain? Maybe it’s this. There is a clip from his first presidential debate with Barrak Obama that shows him blinking 138 times in sixty seconds. During much of this he is issuing some blather about how he feels the economic pain of the American people. A lot of people associate blinking while being declarative with prevarication. It’s like lying takes some extra mental effort because the brain knows the truth and that causes this little blinking in the eyes while the brain fabricates something in place of he truth. 

So, you might ask, why then doesn’t Palin blink; she lies just like McCain. That’s a good question, you betcha. Well, you need to look more carefully. If you watch her during the VP debate, you will see that there were a couple of winks in there. Many people thought these were just sexy little advances to Republican wankers like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, but they were reflexes from the deep programming she was subjected to by her handlers in the days leading up to her debate. Palin was programmed to repeat a mindless lop of works and phrases, such as “the corruption in Washington and on Wall Street,” “there ya go again, Joe, talkin’ about the past,” “I’m a ‘maverick’ just like John McCain,” and “Doggone, it, I’m gonna shoot and field dress Charles Gib . . . I mean Osama bin Laden.” Each blink was a sign that the tape in her head had to re-wind. She was programmed the same way as the Manchurian candidate, but instead of being shown the Queen of Hearts she was flashed a photo of a smiling Katie Couric.


The difference between McCain and Palin is that Palin actually believes what she says. When she says that she “didn’t blink” when McCain asked her to be his Vice President, she meant it. It’s the same sort of self-assurance you need to believe you’re the best looking babe in Wasilla (must have half of your teeth). The same assurance that thinking Russia is close by is international diplomatic experience. This would be the most dangerous Vice President since . . . since, Jesus, Dick Cheney, you betcha!


So what is afoot here? A little review of The Manchurian Candidate might help. It is the movie that helped popularize the term “brain washing.” American P.O.W.s in the Korean War are brainwashed (in Manchuria) and programmed in some gripping scenes in which they will even unemotionally kill one another when ordered. When they are repatriated they don’t even know they are programmed, until one day when Raymond Shaw (Lawrence Harvey) is coincidentally looking at he Queen of Hearts and hears someone say “go jump in the lake” and he heads for Central Park and walks into the pond.


The plot is too twisty to fully recount here, but it turns out that Raymond is the son of a right-wing political couple, the Joe McCarthy-like step-father a Senator Iselin, and his conniving wife and mother. See, just like McCain comes from a line of Navy admirals. Moreover, their son, Sgt. Shaw has been awarded the Medal of Honor for his “bravery,” although even Shaw can’t seem to recall what that act of bravery was (something like the same way McCain got to be a “hero” for getting shot down). In any event, Shaw is programmed to robotically and, with the connivance of his power-lusting mother (Angela Lansbury) commit an assassination at a political convention that will allow his Senator step-father (the VP nominee) to step into the place of the victim and become elected president himself and give a speech that will plunge the USA into political chaos. Turns out that the Russians are behind the whole thing. I won’t spoil the ending for you if you haven’t seen the Manchurian Candidate. (It was hard to get hold of for several years. Co-star Franck Sinatra bought the film and reputedly took it out of release because of the similar elements to the assassination of JKF.)


So now back to blinky John McCain. Could this rather unstable Senator be the McChurian candidate? Could he be the irascible “maverick” president who is (was) “programmed” by the N. Vietnamese over five years of captivity to someday be called upon to take irrational actions like “bomb, bomb, bomb” Iran and to even further politically and economically destabilize the USA with endless wars in Iraq and Iran. Does all that blinking betray an unstable mental state that not only flip-flops on issue positions from poll to poll, but also might fire off nuclear missiles with the same abandon and anger that he attacks his own wife with nasty expletives? Only recently have we learned of the relationship between McCain and his N. Vietnamese jailer, Cao Pham Phong (see DCJ No. 52. 10, about “Love in the Hanoi Hilton”). And what might be the role of Sarah Palin in all of this? Was McCain programmed to choose some dim-witted, easily-programmned, but egregiously ambitious politician from a state uncomfortably close to Russia for some reason we will only know when it is far too late, when she is even less than a heartbeat away? Hmmmmm, the plot thickens? What is this sinister relationship between Mr. Blinky and Ms Winky?


Be afraid, America. And be alert. You just might hear Sara Palin say at one of their rallies: “John McCain is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”  (wink, wink)  Then we will know for certain that Blinky McCain is indeed The McChurian Candidate.
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© 2008, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 10.13.2008)

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