Back in 2008, WorldNetDaily was throwing every smear it could think of at Barack Obama to keep him from getting elected president. Managing editor David Kupelian straight-up called Obama a "Manchurian candidate" -- richly ironic because WND just a few years before was smearing Obama's opponent, John McCain, as a Manchurian candidate.
Well, someone has cranked up the richness level on the irony meter, becuase David Harsanyi devoted his Nov. 15 syndicated column, published at WND, to fret that some were pushing the idea that Donald Trump is a Manchurian candidate:
One of the most durable conspiracy theories of our times finds Vladimir Putin recruiting a billionaire media personality named Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency. In some iterations of the tale, Trump is willingly serving his Kremlin comrades; in others, he is merely the victim of kompromat, or "compromising material." In every version, he is an asset of a hostile government.
Putin, who is apparently blessed with seer-like abilities, knew in the late 1970s that Trump, whose political positions would wildly fluctuate over 40 years, was presidential material. And that now, after decades of patiently waiting, the duo's nefarious plan to cut taxes and place originalists onto the federal bench has finally come to fruition.
In a sprawling July 2018 New York magazine piece headlined "Will Trump Be Meeting with His Counterpart – Or His Handler? A plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion," Jonathan Chait offered a fully realized rendering of Trump's potential sedition. Cobbling together every interaction the real estate developer ever had with Russians, Chait posits that Trump might have become a Kremlin asset in 1987 when he visited Moscow.
Recently CNBC's John Harwood resuscitated this conspiracy, claiming that while "conservative media dismissed as ridiculous the idea that Russia might have cultivated Trump for decades, Fiona Hill, a leading US govt Russia expert, now makes clear it's not ridiculous in the slightest."
Adding to the irony factor, Harsanyi concluded his column by taking an implicit shot at WND, though he may not even know his column appears there:
Then again, the Manchurian Candidate conspiracy theory is much like birtherism. Too many conservatives rationalized their anger over politics by convincing themselves that Obama wasn't only a dangerous ideological adversary but a seditious and illegitimate one as well. (One of the people rightly pilloried for doing this was Donald Trump.) The only difference is that Democrats have mainstreamed this kind of destructive paranoia.