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Ever since John McCain won the South Carolina and Florida Republican primaries, the Internet has been awash (ablaze is probably a better word) with assertions, arguments, and proof that he is not a conservative.  See, e.g., , http://www.therant.us/staff/hholzer/2008/01232008.htm.

In the last few days, however, a few commentators have revived long-standing speculation about whether McCain’s non-conservative positions and conduct are rooted in something much darker than mere opportunism or closet liberalism.  Some have even characterized McCain as a Vietnam War “Manchurian Candidate”—after the title of the famous 1959 novel by Richard Condon, and the subsequent movie of the same name.


In essence, The Manchurian Candidate tells of an American POW from the Korean War who is brainwashed by the Chinese communists.  When, back in the United States, he is flashed the Queen of Diamonds, he becomes a lethal killing machine in service of his mother’s and her husband’s political ambitions.


The term “Manchurian Candidate” has found its way into the American lexicon to mean someone whose mind has been tinkered with, so as to make him do the bidding of the forces that brainwashed him.


Although it is absurd to think that John McCain was brainwashed by the communists into becoming a Manchurian Candidate during his five-plus years of captivity in North Vietnam, there is some circumstantial evidence to suggest that something may have occurred there that the now-presumptive Republican presidential nominee may not want disclosed.


And if that is true, there is a dagger aimed at the heart of his potential candidacy, and thus at our nation, by the ascendancy of Hillary Clinton.


At the threshold, it needs to be said that for every critical question about McCain’s conduct in North Vietnam, and afterwards, there is an arguably benign answer.


Soon after being shot down on October 26, 1967 in the middle of Hanoi, McCain asked for medical attention and promptly received it at a North Vietnamese military hospital.  Was it because he quickly told his captors who his father was, as his detractors claim? Was it because he was so badly injured, as his supporters contend?  Or for some other reason(s)?


Even though no returning POW reported that he had been interrogated by non-Vietnamese communist intelligence or security agents who identified themselves as such, there is considerable circumstantial evidence, and at least three pieces of direct evidence, that some had been.  Indeed, McCain himself has admitted that he was interviewed by at least one “French” reporter, that he had a discussion with “ a famous North Vietnamese writer” about Ernest Hemingway, that unspecified “others came to find out about life in the United States” that one of them “was Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, the hero [!]  of Dienbienphu,” and that indeed, “[m]any [unspecified] visitors came to talk to me”


During those interviews, literary discussions, cultural conversations, and military dialogues, did McCain disclose information that he should not have, as his detractors claim?  Or did he not, as his supporters contend?  (For the record, neither McCain nor any other POW should be criticized for whatever information, however sensitive, they may have given up under torture.)


As a United States Senator, McCain joined with colleague John Kerry to choke off an official inquiry into the fate of American MIAs.  Was it because McCain had something personal to hide and/or like Kerry was trying to facilitate restoration of normal relations with the communists, as his detractors claim?  Or because he honestly believed the Vietnamese had not withheld any American servicemen, as his supporters contend?  Or for some other reason(s)?


McCain was instrumental in having Congress seal the debriefings of all returned prisoners of war.  Was it because of legitimate privacy concerns? Or did his and others’ debriefings inculpate him because of his conduct in captivity.


One can speculate about how many people know the answer to such questions.


But one thing is certain.


John McCain knows the answers.


Putting aside that morally the American people have a right to know those answers right now—during the Republican primaries for the presidency of the United States—there is a crucially important practical reason as well.


It is likely that the Clintons are laying in wait for McCain to become the Republican candidate.  If they possess damaging answers to these and related questions, the Clinton Machine will use them to destroy John McCain, not as a primary candidate, but, if he is nominated, as the anointed Republican standard bearer in November.


We need to ask only two questions: If damaging information does exist about McCain, could the Clintons have it and, if they do, will they use it?


It is not widely known that when Bill Clinton’s last term as Arkansas governor was ending, consideration was given to Hillary succeeding him.  For strategic reasons, she passed. 


Can anyone doubt that the Clinton’s game plan, from the beginning of Bill’s quest for the White House, was that Hillary would follow his presidency with one of her own?


Accordingly, the Clintons being the Clintons, it can be assumed that at least from their first days in the White House they began to amass intelligence about Hillary’s potential rivals years down the line.  Certainly, John McCain had to have been on that list.


The Vietnamese, with whom President Clinton normalized relations, had McCain’s POW files.


The government, of which Clinton was the Chief Executive, had the Vietnam POW debriefing files.


Perhaps the President could have obtained the Vietnamese files.  Certainly the debriefing files were only a phone call or email away.


Remember that nearly a thousand FBI files, mostly about Republicans, somehow wound up in the White House, with some flunky personnel director taking the fall for the Clintons.


If the Clinton Machine has damaging information about McCain’s time as a POW, and about his conduct in POW/MIA affairs during his tenure in Congress, will they use it?


To ask the question is to answer it. 


Remember how the Clintons dealt with Monica Lewinsky and Bill’s other women (as well as Linda Tripp)?  Remember how just two weeks ago they used Obama’s self-admitted drug use and legal representation of a slumlord?  Remember the Clintons’ attacks on the reputations of others who were threats to them?


While McCain is immune to the Queen of Diamonds—whatever he is, John McCain is no Manchurian Candidate!—still, he is not immune to the slash-and-burn tactics of Bill and Hillary Clinton.


As much as John McCain has been injured before, Bill and Hillary Clinton—those pustules on the American body politic—may be poised to teach him another painful lesson. 


Unless, that is, he makes a preemptive strike by releasing heretofore sealed records, exercises as much damage control as he can, and thus avoids being sandbagged during the post-primary election campaign.


The Clintons are out there, aiming for John McCain just as surely as was the SAM missile that brought him down into Hanoi’s Western Lake.