The Manitobian Candidate

Have shadowy forces spent years preparing a puppet candidate who will support their causes? Yes -- and you’ll be surprised who’s pulling the strings.

In an article titled "The Jihad Candidate", written in June 2008 and widely distributed on the Internet, writer Rich Carroll floated the idea of Barack Obama having been groomed and propped up by Islamic extremists for the bulk of his career as part of a lengthy and diabolical plan to install a Muslim in the White House. In a steady series of dire suppositions, rhetorical questions that have answers but which the author chose to omit in order to enhance the mystery, and innuendo that embraces paranoia rather than journalism, Carroll implies that Obama is a modern variation on the Manchurian Candidate, an eloquent shill sent to seduce a gullible populace into becoming a genuine Nation of Islam.

Personally, I found the argument to be flimsy. Similar arguments have been leveled about George W. Bush, a mediocre student groomed and propped up by a coalition of oil barons, ushered ever higher despite his poor business acumen and disjointed eloquence, a good old boy church-goer who charmed a nation into thinking he'd be good company for a beer (the irony lost given that he long ago claimed to have quit imbibing) so that he could get elected and support the causes of his benefactors, a shrinking power base with the foresight to realize that a genuine alternative to their product would be financially disastrous to their empire, thus the need to maintain both the addiction to their product and access to the actual smack. That conjecture is as plausible as Carroll's take on Obama, and since FOX News assures me that there is absolutely no truth to such an accusation against Bush, I feel reasonably confident that Obama has no intention of having America's school children take several prayer breaks each day to praise Allah.

But then I got to thinking about it: My cinematic memory informed me that a stealthy infiltration of the American political system would likely be done by a man who resembles Woody Allen in Bananas, but the perpetrators of such a deception wouldn't rely on an odd looking character with an arsenal of nervous tics to navigate the treacheries of the political system. Instead, they would rely on careful study of sociological trends, finding a candidate who made voters comfortable and complacent, a puppet so personally likable that observers would embrace him/her without asking themselves why.

Essential to such a plan would be isolation: You can't groom a candidate in a metropolis like New York City, where too many eyes and too many cynics would be sniffing out the proverbial rat. Such a candidate would have to start small, where the population is accepting rather than suspicious, and would need a multifaceted appeal while possessing a foolproof defense. An African-American, perhaps, who could deflect attacks by calling them "racist", but that's a dicey bet in a nation where racial harmony remains quietly discordant. No, the candidate would need a larger demographic, one with enough wagons to safely encircle and protect their beloved champion. And in a nation as broad and diverse as America, there's only one such demographic: Women.

The more I thought about it, the more plausible it sounded. Sure, it meant appealing to lowest common denominator stereotypes, but Madison Avenue does that every day with advertisements on 200 channels. People prefer to think of themselves as smart and discerning, yet we are routinely duped by the same old tricks. And don't forget, this is a nation that spends a fortune every year on books with titles that start with "Idiot's Guide to..." or end with "...for Dummies". When it comes to intelligence, Americans comprise a nation of people with dubious self-esteem.

Maybe planting a political pawn wouldn't be that hard: Decide upon a compelling female stooge, good looking enough to hold men's attention but strong enough to be accepted and defended by a significant block of women. Start her off small, slowly immerse her into the system -- perhaps as mayor of a small rural town in a remote state -- and at the opportune moment, orchestrate a scandal among incumbent politicians and allow her to ride in as the reforming hero, a political maverick fit for a Great American Stories profile.

Of course, this is no hypothetical. This is Sarah Palin.

And who is behind the covert political machinations that have delivered her to the threshold of the oval office? Who has orchestrated this elaborate ruse that has allowed a local newscaster for a small-town station to be vying for the second most powerful job on earth?

After careful investigation, the evidence clearly illuminates the hands that hold the puppet strings: Canadians.

Let's face it, no one on earth is more sick of America than the Canadians. Sure, they make nice at the United Nations barbecues and humor us at the G8 meetings, even sign a treaty here and there to make sure the big gorilla to the south doesn't get grumpy. But like the folks that live next door to the loudest, richest, and most arrogant family on the block, you know they're hoping that this economic crisis leads to Americans defaulting on its national mortgage and having to relocate to South America.

It's no wonder they want to take over -- they must watch escapades like it's a TV show, shouting at the screen, "Stop debating it and just give your people some health insurance, eh?!" America is a bundle of contradictions: Politicians insist there should be no abortion while simultaneously voting against subsidized prenatal care for the babies they insist on saving; the government is always, easily finding money to wage war (thanks China!) while cutting funding for the care of the ever-increasing number of its veterans; congressmen rename French fries in their dining hall as if this somehow "sticks it" to the French, a pointless bit of posing that likely peeved the Quebecoise, Canada's French-speaking citizens, more than the Parisians.

Of course, Canadians knew the Americans weren't moving, so they propped Palin, the Manatobian Candidate, into the Alaska governor's mansion. They've been smart about it, too; they got behind a right-wing woman because they recognized that a Democrat can't win in America, a supposition strongly supported by the election and reelection of George W. Bush -- heck, if the Dems couldn't beat a beleaguered Bush in 2004, who can they beat?

What makes me think Palin is a puppet of the Canadians? Because despite the G.O.P.'s insistence that she's a quintessential American story, her Canadian training is showing through.

First, she doesn't seem to want to be on television. Isn't that suspicious to you? Have you ever known an American politician who doesn't want to mug for the camera? Democrats claim this is because she is so unqualified that she's afraid of making a gaffe, but allow me to be blunt: There are plenty of unqualified politicians in America, and most of them won't shut up. I suspect Palin's silence isn't driven by a fear of looking amateur, but a fear that she'll inadvertently use the word "toque" when the sentence called for "hat".

Next, there are the names of those kids. A clear-thinking American would never send their kids off to public school with handles like "Track" and "Trig" -- it sounds like mom mixed up her baby-name book and her high school syllabus. The American education system is a school of hard knocks, and naming your child anything that rhymes with "frig" is tantamount to sending them to school with a target on their back.

Then there's the "Hockey Mom" sobriquet. Baseball is America's sport, but Canadians are so enamored of hockey that they couldn't even let go of it when planning to topple a foreign government -- clearly, while the secret training was in session, her handlers refused to miss a Maple Leafs or Canucks game. No one in the lower 48 ever used the phrase "hockey mom" prior to McCain's announcement of his pick for VP, and no one has used it since with the exception of those describing Palin. Sure, we Americans have hockey, but do you know more than two people in this country who watch it? Television ratings for the NHL would be horrendous if they actually showed it on TV, but despite a game being played every night all winter and spring long, most US stations opt to air reruns of Friends.

Of course, her Canadian puppet-masters anticipated scrutiny, and planned accordingly: By choosing a distinctly "small-town" candidate, they allow dismissal of any reporter's too-erudite question as the inquisition of a city slicker, just like the ones who have ruined Washington DC; by choosing a woman, they built in a defense system that allows any questioning of her qualifications to be derided as anti-women; and by making her a "hockey mom", they have rekindled an interest in their national pastime that has been dormant since NASCAR became a ubiquitous acronym, opening another portal for their infiltration.

To be clear, this is not an indictment of the Canadian people -- heck, there have been a couple of Novembers in the past decade when I lamented that I wasn't one of them. But liking them as individuals and as a culture isn't contradictory to suspecting they'd like to lower their southern border to the Caribbean sea. In fact, come to think of it, there is now a professional hockey team in Phoenix and two in Florida -- hockey, in the sun belt?

Fellow Americans, I fear we are in peril.

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