Saturday, July 21, 2012


I think I have seen this movie before:

Sen. John Yerkes Iselin: No evasions, Mister Secretary, no evasions if you please. 
Secretary of Defense: Evasions? What the hell are you talking about? 
Secretary of Defense: [whispering to Marco] What the hell is this nonsense? 
Marco: [covering the microphones] Mister Secretary, I'm kind of new at this job, but I don't think it's good public relations to speak that way to a US Senator, even if he is an idiot. 
Sen. John Yerkes Iselin: I am United States Senator John Yerkes Iselin, and I have here a list of two hundred seven persons who are known by the Secretary of Defense as being members of the Communist Party! 
Secretary of Defense: [amid shocked reaction from the crowd] What? 
Sen. John Yerkes Iselin: Who nevertheless are still shaping the policy of the Defense Department! 
Secretary of Defense: Senator who? 
Sen. John Yerkes Iselin: I demand an answer, Mister Secretary! There will be no covering up, sir! No covering up! 
Secretary of Defense: How did you get in here in the first place? 

In the classic novel, The Manchurian Candidate, and the classic 1962 film of the same name taken from it, a senator – driven by a domineering wife – makes claims that there are communists running the US. His paranoid claims of Commies under every bed are a reflection of the spirit of the days of the cold war in which the novel was written.

Iselin is a parody of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy who similarly threw the nation into fits of commie convulsions with his baseless accusations – as a further parallel, Both Iselin and McCarthy were never quite clear on who these people were, how he came to know of them, nor even how many they were. Both variously claimed 205 and 57. Humorously, in the film, Iselin comes up with this later number by looking at the label on the bottle of steak sauce he is eating at lunch before he goes to testify before congress.

I bring this up today because of the latest crackpot to come out of the Midwest – Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann. It is no longer the ‘50s, it is no longer the Communists, it isn’t the Department of Defense, it is still a crackpot accusation.

Ms. Bachmann has made accusations against a Clinton aide saying that there are influences of the Muslim Brotherhood in the State Department. And even though her accusations are only backed by a few of the lunatic fringe in the TEA Party, they still seem to be gaining traction with the minority of people who cannot be bothered to do their own thinking. Joseph McCarthy had his own ego and paranoia to blame for his baseless accusations, Senator Iselin had an scheming and deranged wife, to what does Ms. Bachmann owe her vitriol? Is it solely her fundamentalism and her desire to retain power in a system that is so divisive that only the most outlandish accusations get airplay?

Or is there something deeper here that needs to be explored? Whatever it is, the woman–as they say in the south where I grew up – “jus’ ain’t right!” The only advice I have to give Ms. Bachmann is that given to Senator Iselin by his wife when he questioned the progress of the campaign:

 I keep telling you not to think! You're very, very good at a great many things, but thinking, hon', just simply isn't one of them. 

Wherever you are today I hope that thinking is one of the things that you are good at.

Don Bergquist – July 21, 2012 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA

The quotations from this article are from the 1962 Film, The Manchurian Candidate and are taken from the IMDB Quotations listing for that movie. Please visit for details.

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