“The Manchurian Candidate,” a remake of the Cold War tale which stars Denzil Washington and Meryl Streep, substitutes Enron-style corpies for commies as the villains. It has been hailed as the latest Bush-bashing film, even featuring an evil Vice President who looks like Dick Cheney.

But wait a minute.

Film critic James Bowman suggests there’s another interpretation of TMC: it’s really a Kerry-bashing movie.

“Yet John Kerry’s Democratic convention last week prompted the thought in me that maybe we were getting it all wrong. Maybe, in spite of appearances, it was not Bush who was the film’s target but his opponent. For surely Raymond Shaw, the zombie-like programmed ’candidate’ played by Liev Schreiber had a lot more in common with John Kerry than he did with the President. Though obviously lacking not only in charisma but even in human warmth, Shaw was like Kerry in basing his whole claim to fitness for leadership on his past military record, and he was apart from a meagre assortment of pieties employing the word ’strength’ — Candidate Shaw’s equally meaningless slogan was ’Compassionate Vigilance’ — extremely vague about what he would actually do if he were returned to power.”


“In the movie, a select group of Shaw’s former comrades had all been programmed to say that he was ’the kindest, bravest, warmest, most selfless human being I have ever known,’ just like Kerry’s — though both men actually held their brothers-in-arms in some contempt, Kerry having gone so far as to accuse them, back in the 1970s, of having committed unspeakable war crimes, which he also claimed to have witnessed. Moreover, in private the fictional candidate Shaw admits that ’I have always despised the medal,’ that he won in the war and, with it, ’the cloying adulation of the little people.’ Kerry of course has a record of despising his own medals — though now that he hopes the cloying adulation of the little people will bring him to power he wishes us to forget about that and flaunts what he once pretended to have thrown away as a testimony to his ’strength.’”