The similarities are eerie. Just thinking about it causes discomfort. Let me explain. Take a little trip back in time to remember Richard Condon’s 1959 best-selling thriller, The Manchurian Candidate, which inspired two films of similar title, one in 1962, and the most recent, in 2004. The 2004 cinematic, starred Liev Schreiber as Sergeant Raymond Shaw, Denzel Washington as Major Bennett Marco, and Meryl Streep as Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw, Raymond’s mother.
While the 1959 novel and the most recent 2004 film vary in terms of the point in time, there are common underlying themes, like political manipulation, abuse of power, and interference in the US democracy. These themes strike a nerve in how close each manifestation resembles the political atmosphere surrounding today’s US President, Donald Trump.
The late historic film critic, Roger Ebert, described of the 2004 film…”Corporations are a sinister force.” As the movie goes, Raymond Shaw, a former military operative, and current US Congressman, is tapped to be nominated as a Vice-presidential candidate amid a suspicious political environment. His mother, Senator Eleanor Prentiss, a sinister, cunning, manipulative Senator, helps steer the young Congressman to this imminent nomination through the power of her office, manipulation and deceit. For context, America is mired in corporate overreach, fear mongering, and the perfect storm is brewing for something terrible to happen politically. Shaw, an oddity of sorts, is full of inconsistencies in his background, yet uniquely polished and strong. Constituents are drawn to him. Funny that Schreiber plays this character. In a telling scene, Shaw is told by a corrupt Senator, “you are about to become the first privately-owned and operated Vice-President of the United States.” As the story unfolds, this thriller is essentially a scary tale about right-wing corporate and political players trying to win the presidency, destroy those in the way, in order to gain control of the highest office through a compromised candidate.
The plan is set in motion through Senator Prentiss Shaw, who transacts with an evil corporate giant, Manchurian Global, to brainwash her son, Raymond, in a corrupt effort to push him toward a controlled vice-presidency. This plan is conceived many years before present-day, while Raymond and his military squad are fighting in the Persian Gulf. Their unit is mysteriously overtaken at the direction of Manchurian Global, which resulted in control chips being placed in the bodies of Raymond and the story’s hero, Major Ben Marco. Curiously, in the 1959 novel version, the control and manipulation occurs through a foreign power, China, not a corporation.
The hero, Ben Marco, takes you through an unearthing of the deception, through an investigation of events dating all the way back to his and Ray’s time in the Gulf. Ben discovers his implant, and that of Shaw’s too, through terrifying dreams that help him piece it all together. He confronts Shaw about what he learned researching Manchurian Global, and how Shaw’s nomination is connected to the scheme. Senator Prentiss Shaw, activates her son to set in motion kill orders to help cover tracks and further the scheme. Major Marco is able to subvert the plot by killing Shaw and his mother in the movie’s culmination, ultimately saving the Presidency. The Manchurian leaders watch their unholy truth play out in real-time on television, spoiling their manipulation campaign.
Now, it is clear both the novel and movie are fictional tales, and each focus on some elements that remind you of why we like thrillers. However, it is not fantasy to see that a variety of events in our current political theatre might suggest the possible compromise of a Presidential political figure.
In plain sight, you might observe a sympathetic response by enablers of our US President, to foreign interference in his election win, investigation cover-ups, compromised Administration appointees, and unexplained infatuation with our most significant foreign enemy. These facts or coincidences seem alarming at best and a clear American crisis at worst.
In today’s terms, the suggestion of a “controlled” President produces so many questions that need answers. Why did Russia want Trump to be President so badly? What was in it for them? Why Trump? Why has our President continued to ask for help again as the 2020 election looms? Is the beneficiary Russia? Think about it. Is President Trump a Raymond Shaw? Is Russia a Global Manchurian? Putin a Senator Prentiss Shaw?
Is it happenstance or coincidence that Trump ran for President in 2016? Why him, why Russia, why NOW?
Consider the reasons and circumstances that led to such a conspiratorial candidate rising to power in America. Let us not forget that our country’s framers warned us. They feared the rise of this kind of President and sought to curtail the threat of foreign influence in their debate for the ratification of the Constitution. Read The Federalist Papers, by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay.
Finally, who will be our Major Ben Marco? Can anyone solve this mystery? It does seem we need a hero, and fast…