I’m breaking my self-imposed “radio silence” to encourage us to be careful about what we think we know — to paraphrase Mark Twain, “it isn’t what we don’t know that hurts us, it’s what we know that just ain’t so”.
Case in point is “The Manchurian Candidate”. This fabulous novel is, in fact, political satire aimed at McCarthyism. The brainwashed mole is an assassin, not a candidate. The novel is still available. I bought and read it — it’s a fabulous read. I am amazed at how accurately it reflects current politics.
It is only tangentially related to Russian attempts to influence the election. In the novel, the protagonist is a trained assassin — the “brainwashing” plot is in fact a vehicle used to construct biting, accurate, and funny political satire. The novel paints the Chinese, not the Russians, as the bad guys, and has much in common with “Catch 22”.
Whatever Donald Trump is or is not, he is NOT a “Manchurian Candidate”. If there are any moles planning assassination in America today, they are more likely to be terrorists than communist agents. I do confess that a contrast-and-compare between Eleanor Shaw (a well-crafted villain) and Kellyanne Conway would be fun.
The real target of the Manchurian Candidate is blind, ignorant, and fact-free GOP politics, as practiced by elected demagogues with no intellectual integrity or concern for truth, facts, or right-versus-wrong. That was true during the McCarthy era, it was true in 1959 when the novel was published, and is true in spades today.
The fundamental challenge facing America today is that as we face the inauguration of Donald Trump, we do so in a culture that has enthusiastically embraced “Neo-McCarthyism”. THAT is the reason to read “The Manchurian Candidate”.