The Manchurian Candidate?
Posted on August 15, 2008
In 1959, Richard Condon wrote a novel about the son of a prominent political family who has been brainwashed into becoming an assassin for the Communist Party, after being captured by the Chinese Communists in North Korea. It was later turned into a film starring Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury.
This book (and movie) has come to my mind in the context of Barack Obama. Perhaps Obama’s biggest liability is the fact that he is not really well-known to most Americans, despite the media’s over-coverage of him. His thin resume, his rapid rise to the top of the political mountain, his unusual upbringing, his wanderlust, and his fierce ambition, all lead many people to ask the question: Who is this guy?
A new book about Obama, written by a self-admitted partisan, has shot to number one on the New York Times best-seller list. I haven’t read the book and I won’t vouch for its accuracy or validity, but it is interesting to note how many people want to buy it. There is a hunger to find out who the real Obama is, outside of his self-congratulatory autobiographies. (And isn’t two autobiographies a lot for somebody who just recently passed the 45 year old mark?)
Investors Business Daily has an interesting article about Obama’s philosophy and how he trained to be community “activist”. Here is an excerpt from that article:
One of Obama's main inspirations was a man dedicated to revolutionary change that he was convinced "must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, nonchallenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future."
Sen. Obama was trained by Chicago's Industrial Areas Foundation, founded in 1940 by the radical organizer Saul Alinsky. In the 1980s, Obama spent years as director of the Developing Communities Project, which operated using Alinsky's strategies, and was involved with two other Alinsky-oriented entities, Acorn and Project Vote.
On the Obama campaign Web site can be found a photo of him teaching in a University of Chicago classroom with "Power Analysis" and "Relationships Built on Self Interest" written on the blackboard — key terms utilized in the Alinsky method.
The far-left Alinsky had no time for liberalism or liberals, declaring that "a liberal is (someone) who puts his foot down firmly on thin air." He wanted nothing less than transformational radicalism. "America was begun by its radicals," he wrote. "America was built by its radicals. The hope and future of America lies with its radicals." And so, "This is the job for today's radical — to fan the embers of hopelessness into a flame to fight. To say, '. . . let us change it together!' "
Alinsky students ranged "from militant Indians to Chicanos to Puerto Ricans to blacks from all parts of the black power spectrum, from Panthers to radical philosophers, from a variety of campus activists, S.D.S. and others, to a priest who was joining a revolutionary party in South America."
Capitalism always was considered the enemy. "America's corporations are a spiritual slum," he wrote, "and their arrogance is the major threat to our future as a free society." Is it surprising that an Alinsky disciple such as Obama can promise so blithely to increase taxes on CEOs?
Obama calls his years as an Alinskyesque community organizer in Chicago "the best education I ever had, and where I learned the true meaning of my Christian faith." But as radicalism expert Richard Lawrence Poe has noted, "Camouflage is key to Alinsky-style organizing. In organizing coalitions of black churches in Chicago, Obama caught flak for not attending church himself. He became an instant churchgoer."
Indeed, Alinsky believed in sacrificing ethics and morals for the great cause. "Ethical standards must be elastic to stretch with the times," Alinsky wrote in his last book, "Rules for Radicals," adding that "all values are relative in a world of political relativity."
Published a year before Alinsky's death in 1972, "Rules for Radicals" includes a dedication in which he gives "an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical . . . who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer."
Alinsky's writings even explain what often seems like Obama's oversized ego. In New Hampshire in January, for example, the senator told an audience that "a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany . . . and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama."
It was a bizarre spectacle, but consider that Alinsky believed that "anyone who is working against the haves is always facing odds, and in many cases heavy odds. If he or she does not have that complete self-confidence (or call it ego) that he can win, then the battle is lost before it is even begun."
According to Alinsky, "Ego must be so all-pervading that the personality of the organizer is contagious, that it converts the people from despair to defiance, creating a mass ego."
Alinsky also readily admitted that he didn't trust the people themselves. "It is the schizophrenia of a free society that we outwardly espouse faith in the people but inwardly have strong doubts whether the people can be trusted," he wrote. "Seeking some meaning in life," the middle class, according to Alinsky, "turn to an extreme chauvinism and become defenders of the 'American' faith."
This is evocative of Obama's remark during the primaries that small-town Americans are "bitter" and "cling to guns or religion."
Obama is also following Alinsky's instructions to the hard left for attaining power in America. In the last chapter of "Rules for Radicals," titled "The Way Ahead," is found this declaration: "Activists and radicals, on and off our college campuses — people who are committed to change — must make a complete turnabout."
Alinsky noted that "our rebels have contemptuously rejected the values and way of life of the middle class. They have stigmatized it as materialistic, decadent, bourgeois, degenerate, imperialistic, war-mongering, brutalized and corrupt."
According to Alinsky, "They are right," but he cautioned his comrades that "the power and the people are in the big middle-class majority." Therefore, an effective radical activist "discards the rhetoric that always says 'pig' " in reference to police officers, plus other forms of disguise, "to radicalize parts of the middle class."
Obama's rhetorical window-dressing is easily recognizable as Alinskyesque camouflage. New annual spending of more than $340 billion, as estimated by the National Taxpayers Union, is merely a wish to "recast" the safety net woven by FDR and LBJ, as Obama describes it in his writings. The free market is disparaged as a "winner-take-all" economy. Big tax increases masquerade as "restoring fairness to the economy."
Is Obama a Manchurian candidate? I doubt it. Or is he just an avid follower of Saul Alinsky? More likely. But either way, Obama’s biggest problem is that, in the general election, he is not well-known and he doesn’t have a strong record of accomplishment that will help him convince voters that they can trust him. And at the end of the day, that may be his campaign’s undoing.