As readers will be aware, I have become increasingly concerned in recent weeks about the erratic and damaging foreign policy behavior of President Barack Obama. I have wondered whether such behavior is the product of intellectual incapacity or even of outright insanity. Following up on a comment from one of my readers, I have decided to explore an alternative, and ultimately even more dangerous possibility: that Barack Obama is sane and competent, but is guided by an obsessional hatred of all that the country he represents is known to stand for. I introduce this line of thinking in today’s column through a brief outline of Richard Condon’s 1959 novel, The Manchurian Candidate.
Condon’s novel focuses attention on the son of a prominent United States political family who has been brainwashed into becoming an unwitting assassin for the Communist Party. Sergeant Raymond Shaw, together with the rest of his infantry platoon are kidnapped in 1952 during the Korean War. They are taken to Manchuria to be brainwashed into believing that Shaw saved their lives in combat, and are then released back to the United States. For his alleged heroism under fire, Congress subsequently awards Shaw the Medal of Honor.
In reality, the brainwashed Shaw is now a sleeper agent operating under a KGB handler, his domineering mother, a ruthless power broker working with Communists to overthrow the United States’ government. Shaw is subconsciously activated to follow orders whenever he views the Queen of Diamonds playing card while playing solitaire. Attention in the novel centers on whether Shaw will be effectively manipulated by his mother to impose her husband, a United States Senator, as a puppet dictator, directly under her control.
Of course, the novel’s concept of the Manchurian Candidate takes a very particular form. Nevertheless, the notion that a President of the United States may be driven by a deeply-rooted, perhaps hidden, obsessional hatred of his country’s history, institutions and expressed ideals is truly worthy of a thoughtful analysis and discussion.
So that is what I intend to do.
Hat Tip: Tim