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Chip Berlet: “The Manchurian President”

September 16, 2010

I was scanning my WordPress Tag Surfer, which allows me to see what WordPress bloggers are saying about subjects  I flagged.

My heavens, there is so much anti-Obama rhetoric out there that I have to watch that osmotically it doesn’t seep into my system and sweep me away at some deep subconscious level.

Amidst it all, one lonely analyst looks at what this is all about.

That means that this fellow has had to read and study all that hate literature, something I would refuse to do and something for which the world owes him a debt of gratitude.

Thank heavens, this will all pass as the light increases on the planet. But until then, we need to hold the ground for sanity and truth.

Here is Chip Berlet’s analysis of the anti-Obama trope, meme, or story.

‘The Manchurian President’: Chicago’s Commie Liberal Puppet

Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates, at]

America is in the midst of a 21st-century witch hunt. A loose-knit network of right-wing ideological strategists, Republican Party operatives and media demagogues generate the odious smears. Their goal is to stymie the Obama administration’s policy initiatives, capture Congress in November and unseat President Barack Obama in 2012.

This propagandizing echoes the scapegoating of liberals, union and community organizers, peace activists, gay people, Jews and people of color during the anti-communist witch-hunts of the McCarthy era.

Anti-Obama rhetoric also mimics 1960s slurs dubbing Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. a dupe of a communist conspiracy – claims circulated by groups like the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, the white supremacist “Citizens’ Councils” and the Ku Klux Klan. Billboards and flyers with this revelation appeared across the South, and postcards were distributed nationwide.

The underlying message is that liberals are either tools or agents of the plot to build collectivism and global governance. Such claims, once used to label President Franklin D. Roosevelt a fascist, have resurfaced against Obama, who is tagged as Hitler and Stalin. Such sloganeering is a classic trope that distorts a complex idea into a short metaphor full of rich cultural or political baggage.

Into this guilt-by-association cesspool swims Aaron Klein, who fancies himself a shark of an investigative journalist but is really just another bottom-feeder. Klein, a senior staff reporter for the hard-right conspiracist World Net Daily, worked with Internet crank Brenda J. Elliott ( to write the new book The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and other Anti-American Extremists.

Similarly gawdy anti-Obama books include: Newt Gingrich’s To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine, Sean Hannity’s Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda and Brad O’Leary’s The Audacity of Deceit: Barack Obama’s War on American Values.

Slightly less histrionic are: Jerome R. Corsi’s The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of  Personality, and Floyd Brown and Lee Troxler’s Obama Unmasked: Did Slick Hollywood Handlers Create the Perfect Candidate?

According to The Manchurian President, Obama was groomed for office by a nest of socialists, communists and other dangerous radicals based in Hyde Park, the South Side neighborhood that includes the University of Chicago.

Klein writes, “[Brenda Elliot and I] began to realize the scope of Obama’s radical associates and mentors … We realized we were piecing together an intricate puzzle that revealed a man with an agenda far more radical and dangerous than he portrays – a politician backed by groups and individuals who seek to drastically alter the U.S. system or destroy it altogether.”

The book identifies Marilyn Katz, a well-known anti-war activist and public-relations consultant, as part of Obama’s Chicago cabal. The writers spend “a lot of time mapping” an alleged subversive network of Obama operatives, Katz says.

The authors portray Obama “as some kind of robotic guy run by a nest of vipers,” says Katz. Obama “is a moderate politically – a gatherer, not a splitter. He excels in everything he does. They can’t attack him directly based on his race or his credentials,” so they map out “`who-knows-who?’”

Anti-Obama smears utilize guilt-by-association, innuendo and hype. The Manchurian President also fingers labor organizer and long-time leftist activist Carl Davidson as one of Obama’s co-conspirators. Davidson founded the Chicago chapter of the New Party in the 1990s, which Klein and Elliot call a “self-described … `socialist democratic’ organization.”

The text describing the New Party’s “socialist democratic” leaning cites a USA Today article, but the footnote trails to a partisan blog –, which proclaims USA Today reported on November 16, 1992, that the New Party was “self-described [as] `socialist democratic.’” USA Today actually reported “the New Party [was] a self-described `social democratic’ organization based on the idea of local autonomy and a combination of campaign work with non-electoral cultural and educational activities.”

The Manchurian President breathlessly reports that in “an interview conducted by Aaron Klein … Davidson strongly suggests Obama was an actual member” of the New Party. Davidson, however, says he told Klein that “Obama was never seriously a member of the New Party, I never saw him sign a membership form,” and there is no record that he did. “It’s just a crock.”

“We helped him out on his campaign for state senate in 1996, and later he thanked us. That was it. The whole idea of Obama as our Manchurian Candidate is ludicrous,” says Davidson.

A conspiracy that never dies

The political right has long built elaborate conspiracy theories about leftist subversion.

In the early 1950s, John Beauty’s The Iron Curtain Over America blamed the international communist conspiracy on a Jewish plot. After the Vietnam war, a story surfaced that politicians and high-ranking military officials, in league with the CIA, never really wanted victory. In other words, the treacherous liberal elite stabbed our boys in the back.

Their goal: Create enough chaos and internal dissent within the United States to impose martial law and round up patriotic conservative Americans – and their guns. The hard-right, anti-communist John Birch Society spread this conspiracy theory across America – a narrative that endures to this day in right-wing media.

Similar fictions featuring Obama resurfaced in early July, reports sociologist Jerry Lembcke. “I was surprised it has taken this long with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for these right-wing storylines to bubble to the surface. Now we are right back into this `who lost the war?’ culture that the nation experienced after the war in Vietnam.”

Lembcke has been tracing the right-wing myth of liberal treachery for more than a decade in a series of books. In The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, Lembcke reported that stories about GIs being spit on as they returned from service in Vietnam were fabricated to explain that Vietnam had not been a military loss, but a betrayal by liberal elites and radical anti-war activists.

In CNN’s Tailwind Tale: Inside Vietnam’s Last Great Myth, Lembcke traced a yarn that the U.S. government had murdered AWOL GI’s hiding in North Vietnam. Lembcke’s new book, Hanoi Jane: War, Sex, and Fantasies of Betrayal, explores the scapegoating of Jane Fonda that emerged years after her 1972 visit to North Vietnam on an anti-war mission.

“The power of a political trope,” he says, “works for and on people who are unaware of where it comes from. Very few Americans will connect these claims about Obama and socialism to the old JBS [John Birch Society] betrayal theory and right-wing conspiracism [about Vietnam].”

Populism, demonization and scapegoating combine to generate witch hunts. In the ’60s, New York Times reporter Cabell Phillips noted that in the right-wing conspiracy storyline, “liberalism is equated with socialism and socialism with communism.” Thus it was necessary to oppose “most welfare legislation, [and] many programs for international cooperation such as foreign aid. … Such activities are depicted as playing into the hands of the Communists, and sometimes stemming from Communist subversion.”

Hard times yield a hard right. Indeed, the Republicans appear set to adopt the liberal treachery motif as a campaign tool in the upcoming election.

Progressives must energetically defend Obama against pathological smears and racist attacks – while we kick his butt to live up to his campaign promises.

[Chip Berlet is a senior analyst at Political Research Associates, at]


One Comment leave one →
  1. September 16, 2010 9:47 pm

    powerful and I appreciate it. I want to email to you what I wrote that is a little more understanding for younger folks. What you did is great but most college folks would be lost and assume that this is a counter conspiracy.

    America the Sick-a-full
    (By Gregory Newman)
    September 7, 2010

    This nation suffers from a deadly virus called “RIS.” This stands for Race, Ideology and Symbolism. This virus comes from self inflicting wounds. If this nation continues on its current path and doesn’t seek a cure it will implode in a few months not years.

    Let us examine the first symptom that is called Race. In the book of Matthew chapter 24 verse 7. It reads; “Nation (ethnos/ethnic) will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”

    In our current state of affairs hate groups like the KKK, Skinheads, Neo-Nazi and Aryan Nation are armed and gearing-up for a race war. Their motive is to kill all people of color, Jews, Gays and etc… They feel that they lost control of this country which they deem as for “Whites” only.

    In addition, we are involved with warring factions among other countries and we are probably far short of a food shortage but this nation continues to neglect the homeless and the elderly. Lastly, the past 2 years we have experienced mild quakes in parts of Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and as far north as Connecticut. These states are not known to frequent earthquakes.

    The second symptom is Ideology. In the book of Proverb, chapter 29 verse 4. It reads, “By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.” Again in our current state President Obama put controls into place to bring some stability to the economy and to stave off lobbyist from the House and Senate. In addition, he worked with the FED to establish principles against unscrupulous bankers and share holders.

    The third symptom is Symbolism. In the book of Proverb 21st chapter first verse. It reads, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.” In our current state of affairs news programming has brought to the forefront an awareness of this Nation’s ill condition.

    The Republicans in congress and the senate are vehemently contending against the President who is clearly for the people.
    It is amazing how the Republicans are parading themselves as fiscal conservatives but for the past 8 years every time President Bush stroked his pen it was shis boom bah rah rah rah Go George! Go! They have taken an attitude as if Obama is leading this country in what they consider as the wrong direction.

    Yet, during those 8 years of George jr. there were 5 scandals of sex and 38 scandals of coercion or bribes with money and there should be 3 crimes of treason, all Republicans. You see they talk tough and act perfect but as soon as one challenges them about their mistakes and their propaganda they retreat into an act of oblivion. Yet, they are aware of it and they pride themselves on being impervious.

    For years they road the wave of the Christian Right by propagating as if they were the only ones that has a fixation on God and doing the right thing. Then suddenly, oh no a Black man is President. This President has relentlessly reached out to Republicans but their response is only to the media and not to him. Now the media pundits have discerned this as sarcasm. So therefore, they have reported in kind.

    In addition, the Republicans have gotten so silly that long time Republican Senator Arlen Specter became a Democrat because they moved so far to the right and Dick Cheney has accused Colin Powell of being a Democrat and for 8 years nobody had heard from the Vice President.

    Moreover, what’s so odd is that they are praising the late President Reagan so often as if he were to return from death and they haven’t accepted the fact that large numbers of White Americans voted for Obama. On another level to add to that is that in Psalm 75:5-7 it says “Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck. For promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he puts down one, and sets up another.” So therefore, Obama’s Presidency is ordered by God just as any other.

    When Republican’s in the House and Senate speak about preserving America for the future of children they literally mean their children if you don’t believe me go to the Appalachians and the states of Tennessee and Kentucky and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Arkansas.

    It’s amazing how these extremely poor White children can go unnoticed by them and the media. Yet, when it is election time these areas are highly critical to Republicans.

    It is obvious Republicans are not subject to change and incapable of appeasement and they are staunchly arrogant. They are as desperate as of to date that they went out and got a Black man Michael Steele to get the Black vote but he is actually being used as an attack dog.

    Then there is Rush Limbaugh which makes this a sad account of their lack of an agenda. With these 2 this is an equal to an Oreo cookie that has been left out over night. When you bite into it you’ll immediately say something worse than yukie! Then you spit it out.

    The Democrats don’t taste much better. They love to create programs that keep people co-dependent instead of a viable direction. Moreover, if the media pundits profess to know how to solve this nation’s issues why didn’t they run for office? That’s what I thought. They are too busy staging platforms for ridicule or sensationalism.

    In addition, to this they gather so-called experts to subliminally create a slant by way of rhetorical questions and presumptive solutions or to best some it up, to keep you frustrated and confused. Why? Because they don’t have a clue either.

    What really floors me are these code words that are flying around that have jacked-up one-time composed citizens. These words are conservative agenda and socialism. How it is that now a Black man is pulling the reigns on the stagecoach. That now our economy is being related to the eras of Stalin or Hitler.

    It is amazing to me that this election has demoralized a lot of people. If anyone is really concerned about socialism well then destroy the Federal Reserve.

    That system has been performing under the auspices of the Federal Government. It also has these large tentacles called NAFTA and GATT that is sucking away any dreams of an American born and bred college student. In addition, if you really want to know the truth about the Conservative agenda. Well hold your breath.

    It means keep it white and there are two things that operates under the auspices of that agenda and that is cronyism and nepotism. Cronyism’s original intent is exclusively to keep all jobs for white males and nepotism simply means keeping those jobs in those families.

    Moreover, that crap backfired once before because the Reagan and then Bush administrations got caught-up playing cowboys against the Arabs. Then in the interim the original Americans decided to come home so they flooded the borders. Now there is confusion in our nation on why and how or when to deal with illegal immigration.

    It is disturbing for me to discuss race because I have never and will never allow the color of someone’s skin defile my character or my judgment but this nation has a medium by way of the media that does a great job of showing race-baiters. They know that it exist and that is why they fuel and refuel.

    Moreover, the ignition began from the code word “I want him to fell.” In addition, this Nation has a segment of Whites that are so full of anxiety and inhibition about Blacks. They cannot see that the conservative agenda is all about destroying the middle class. What is considered as hard economic time’s rolls off like water on a ducks back in the African-American community? Yaw need to ask yourself how is it that a Republican can speak of their humble beginnings then after a few years in the House or Senate they suddenly become millionaires. Eventually China will tell us all to leave. They are selling all of us away.

    Moreover, there is this 8-headed monster of loonies (Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Levin, Savage, O’Reilly, Kristol and Coulter) that are a net worth of over a billion dollars combined in income. They are relentlessly working at keeping you riled-up about Black folk that are working too hard and too broke to pay attention. They don’t give a hoot about you.

    The bible says in Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

    Michael Steele likes to believe it’s about Obama’s policies instead of race. So therefore he rebutted President Carter. He hasn’t taken an account that allot of White Americans agree. Since he stated that it is about policy, well then let me give a brief history lesson on policy.

    Since Americans can only function on the blame game let’s run a 4 by 100 relay with 2 heats. In the 1st leg President Carter had a great reaction to the gun with a deregulation bill of the Depository Institutions and Monetary Control which basically put a gun in the hand of the Federal Reserve; then there was a superb exchange to Reagan and then he ran a storming leg down the back-stretch. His baton read. “Government is the problem, not the solution; the magic of the marketplace must be set free.”

    So he then proceeded by stomping the air traffic control persons and then scrapped the precautionary rules of the 1930’s. Then Wall Street said let’s go boys, its Showtime. In addition, he played a cold war against Russia and didn’t have a dime to pay for it. So he raised money for the Defense Dept. by raising taxes on businesses in 1982, payroll taxes in 1983 and then energy in 1984.

    Daddy Bush stood pat in the turn and didn’t function well because of the deficit created by the cold war. He ended-up falling in a pit created by his son Neil with the S&L scandal and then nervously went before the Nation. He said “he would do anything necessary to free his son.” He then proceeded by conjuring up bullies and borrowing money to amazingly bomb the heck out of an old friend in Iraq. That will go down as the greatest 3rd leg in history because for 42 days Americans got amnesia about the scandal.

    Then Clinton brought it home by running a blazing anchor leg and cuddling Newt Gingwich along the way because he thought that Newt would keep his word by helping him pass a health care bill so he made a compromise by signing a NAFTA/GATT contract that was negotiated by Daddy Bush and Carla Hills and it currently has this nation’s lively hood or economy stalled in dung then in the last 20 meters he blew China a kiss with a DUMB STUPID favored nation status.

    George jr. opened up in the 2nd heat while barreling in the turn he was screaming “I’ve got to give the people their money back” which ate up the surplus and then he got spiked by Bin Laden and bled badly and then often wavered on the right thing to do because he had a Vice President with insidious means so he picked a fight against 2 Nations that we can’t win then staggered handing off to Obama who is runnin like a madman because we fell behind carrying a massive debt and is currently being booed by teammates because he just passed a health care bill that is so large that it would choke a goat plus a great number of folks never wanted him on the team.

    In addition, he told the Mexican President that we are defined by are relationships not our borders. Then I felt like Richard Pryor “Is that n@**% crazy.” No one knows if he will finish his presidency on his feet or on his face because the house and senate operates on unadulterated lunacy. Now if anyone is upset about this message it is obvious that you can’t handle the truth. Try swallowing.

    This nation is in a similar situation during the time when the Hebrew nation was attempting to get to the Promise land. In the book of Numbers 12th chapter Aaron and Miriam the brother and sister of Moses questioned his leadership as The Republicans do the President but not as because he was married to a Black (Ethiopian) woman. So when God heard them he called them out and chastised them. Afterwards He then spit in Miriam’s face and she became Leprous. Moreover, because of this there was no movement or progress in the camp for 7 days. One must remember the President’s heart is in the hand of God.

    Now we have Sarah Palin mimicking Miriam by parading around the country as a leader of the Tea Party Movement. Yet, she is more like a modern day Jezebel seeking to rule this Nation and some of her antics borderlines treason.

    So therefore, if anyone desires this Nation to go to hell, well then check in with the ill-willed cheerleaders of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and trust me God ain’t ran out of spit.

    To disagree is one thing but obnoxious criticism is another and although this nation ran Jesus out of the country in 1963. He is still Lord of a great host of people that are praying that He would intercede into this Nation’s Affairs. Yet He ain’t because He left a Church on earth with many members so hopefully they will infiltrate His will.

    In addition, be prepared for the additional consequences that may come in the form of natural disasters by criticizing President Obama.

    WE ALL bashed President Bush so often that we fell in a quagmire so wide that there is nothing available even by our armed services that could trace us. WE ARE LOST. A nation divided will not stand.

    I have lived through 11 presidents and as bad as most people believed that George W. Bush was as President. The one thing that I admired him for is that he openly and enthusiastically spoke that Jesus the Christ is his Lord and Savior now who’s yours. If anyone wants to save this Nation by pass me and hypocrites and go straight to JESUS

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