The Manchurian President

“The Manchurian President” by Ron K. Unz
Unpublished, May 1993

The following correspondence was found in the personal papers of a retired U.S. Senator from Arizona following his death from a stroke in 1998.

Dearest H.,

Almost thirty years gone by, and nobody suspects a thing! The strength of your determination still astonishes me. I never dreamed that the fiery “Goldwater” girl who visited me in my Chicago hotel room a couple of weeks after my landslide defeat in
1964 actually meant what she said. After all, when a teenage girl swears to go underground and dedicate the rest of her life to destroying American Liberalism and the Democratic Party, but from within, a crusty old politician like me assumes it’s a passing phase, a promise which will be forgotten by senior prom night, let alone college graduation. I’d certainly forgotten our conversation within a few weeks, though I was charmed by your spirited support on my flight back to Arizona.

How wrong we can all be. When I got your letter shortly after your husband was elected Attorney General of Arkansas in ’76, your name meant absolutely nothing to me, but like the old male chauvinist I am, how could I reject a lunch request from a lady, even one who mentioned she was visiting Arizona to attend an ACLU conference. When we sat down and you explained who you were and what you’d been doing over the previous ten years, I
thought you’d escaped from the loony bin. But then you showed it all to me, your pages of notes, your secret diary, your strategy outline, all perfectly authentic. The boldness of your plan floored me. If even just a few of our intelligence agents had been of your caliber, those damn commies in ‘Nam never would have stood a chance.

Imagine, “converting” to the Left at Wellesley, having your consciousness raised, learning to dress Left, act Left, talk Left, even think Left, all as a cover. Learning your lessons so
well, you not only became a solid member of those college pinkos, but one of the leaders, student body president and a key figure at college conferences. And with the contacts you made at those conferences, the ones on student government and against the war,
always evaluating which of those college leftists had the greatest political potential, and choosing your friends accordingly. Even sleeping with bums you personally and
politically detested, always searching for the man you would finally choose as your future instrument. Mata Hari had nothing on you.

And then you finally found him. As you’ve told me so many times since, a complete boob, an empty windbag, a pure politician to the core, with virtually no goals or beliefs except fame, women, and the good graces of his trendy-leftist social set. A Rhodes Scholar, but not a very smart guy, coming from a tiny state like Arkansas, where it would be easy to launch a political career. An anti-war activist, but not an extreme one, a soft compliant fellow, who would always recognize that you were far more intelligent and knowledgeable, and who would willingly let himself be molded like putty in your hands. Even before you were married, while he was at Oxford, you persuaded him to “maintain his future political viability” by risking the draft lottery.

You always emphasized to him his great political potential, and how important it would be for him to make the “right” friends among the other Rhodes Scholars, how to decide which ones were going somewhere and which ones weren’t.

Then later, after marriage and Yale Law School (where you diligently helped the blockhead in his coursework), the efforts you had to make to get him to move back to Arkansas, and
reestablish his country-boy roots, so necessary for the political future you were planning. He’d have been perfectly content to spend the rest of his life seducing co-eds as a second-rate law lecturer at the lower rungs of the Ivy League. And the media thinks that you followed him back to Arkansas!

After that it was all like clockwork. Local boy who made good in the Big City gets interested in local politics, then becomes state Attorney General, then became one of the youngest Governors in American history, and finally begins to build a national following. And all that time, you turned a blind-eye to his heavy womanizing, though you kept those photos around just in case he ever tried to slip the leash. Not that he would try—he knew you were aiming him at the White House, though he never dreamed of your true motives.

I do remember, though, back at one of our annual private dinners, in ’86 I think, you almost decided to call it quits on the whole game, dump the draft-dodging adulterous airhead you so much detested, and find a man you could truly love and respect before you became too old to have another child. Reagan was riding high then, and it looked like all your efforts hadn’t really been necessary after all. You told me that if the Republicans managed to keep the Senate in the Fall, and Reagan got one more solid seat on the Supreme Court, you’d be able to finally come in out of the cold, but until that time you’d hold yourself in reserve, just in case. Then came the Democratic Senate victories in November, Reagan’s crippling by Iran-Contra, and Bork’s defeat at the hands of Norman Lear. With each furtive phone call, I could hear you choke back your tears as you realized that your life had only one choice in front of it.

Afterward came the darkest days, as that imbecile Bush did his bumbling best to undo Reagan’s conservative legacy (I’d almost suspect that old George was a Democratic plant, but neither he nor Barbara were ever smart enough to pull something like that off). You’d already primed your boob for a Presidential run by pulling Hollywood strings to get him the Democratic convention keynote speech in 1988 (an opportunity he typically flubbed), then cultivated every Party interest group to clear his way for 1992. I remember your hysteria when the draft-dodging and Jennifer Flowers stories leaked out before his election (rather than afterward as you’d planned), and it looked like decades of your life had been spent in vain. But the Media and the Hollywood money crowd saved you as you’d always hoped they would, and on November 3rd, your life’s plans entered their final phase.

If only your Hollywood left-liberal friends could have understood the irony of it. They’d given their all to elect a man whose apparent status as a Southern moderate actually masked a hard left-liberal agenda as they well knew. But they never dreamed that the left-liberal agenda, in turn, had been carefully crafted over three decades by one of the most subtle and brilliant women in American history, whose own true views had never strayed one inch left of their youthful Goldwaterism. None of the screenwriters would have dared write a script based on such an idea; no one would have believed it.

And still they don’t suspect you! After the election, when all the pundits agreed the incoming administration had to nail down its support among blue-collar “God and Country” Reagan Democrats, the first issues you emphasized were filling your cabinet by racial quota and putting gays in the military, eliminating any chance of Reagan Democrat support. Later on, you announced the possibility of a massive new national sales tax on April 15th. You arranged for Christophe of Beverly Hills to give your vain boob a $200 haircut while tying up one of America’s busiest airports. From the beginning, you did everything you
could to alienate and anger the national media, which had been so helpful during the campaign, and you’ve made the worst elements of the sybaritic Hollywood Left virtual members of the White House staff. And all along the way, you continually worked to make yourself the most hated figure in American public life, so that when the Democratic Party is annihilated at the polls in 1994, the people will be voting against you through them. Your knowledge of history and human psychology is flawless: Marie Antoinette of France, the Empress Alexandra of Russia, the Dowager Empress and Jiang Ching in China, and most recently Edith Cresson in Mitterand’s government—a hated female consort is the ideal triggering mechanism for a populist revolt.

In five months, you’ve done more damage to the Democratic Party than Reagan did in eight years, and no one even connects this pattern of events to your youth on the Right, working on my campaign. When the truth eventually comes out, you will be recognized as the greatest Goldwaterite in history, including me, and I’m the man himself.

And they say that one individual can’t change history.

Yours in Deepest Admiration,


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