Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Manchurian President

Richard Condon's novel, The Manchurian Candidate, and the John Frankenheimer film based on it, begin by taking literally a then-current cocktail party put-down: "So-and-so couldn't be doing the communists any more good if he was actually working for them."
In the novel and film, a right-wing presidential candidate turns out to be the stooge of a communist operative, who is also secretly manipulating a decorated Korean War hero.
George W. Bush's out-of-touch demeanor has long suggested that he, too, is a stooge for a behind-the-scenes manipulator. While I have argued against this, believing that it absolves Bush of responsibility for his destructive acts, speculating on who his puppeteer might be is certainly an entertaining pastime.
Dick Cheney, of course, is seen by many as the master manipulator. But to whom should we speculate that Cheney reports in this parlor-game scenario? Osama bin Laden? Saddam Hussein? A right-wing media mogul like Richard Scaiffe or Rupert Murdoch? Some lower-profile (to most Americans) villain such as Vladimir Putin?
Hard to say, although the way that Bush's actions have threatened both our traditional values (such as the quaint concepts of personal liberty and privacy) as well as our security (through misappropriation of Homeland Security funds to small midwestern towns, sapping the strength of the military in the ill-conceived and poorly executed war in Iraq, etc.) in the aftermath of the September 11 attack suggests that ultimately, he works for Osama bin Laden. Makes sense, too, given the close ties of the Bush family to various Saudi oil billionaires.
While it's surely a pipe dream, finding out that Bush really is a pawn of the terrorists in an elegant global conspiracy would tie together a large number of loose ends and explain a lot of otherwise mystifying developments.
Anyway, the guessing game is fun.