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Tan Nguyen: Manchurian Candidate?

Oct
24
2006

Tan Nguyen never had a chance of being elected to Congress – but for the past week, he’s the only candidate the Southern California media can talk about. His race-baiting intimidation letter to Latino voters was either the dumbest or most nefarious political ploy to be pulled in this election cycle.

If you hadn’t heard, Nguyen is accused of sending out a letter to voters with Spanish surnames threatening that illegal immigrants who vote could get deported. The Orange County Republican Party decried the letter and asked the candidate to withdraw from the race.

Governor Schwarzenegger and his opponent have both criticized Nguyen – a Vietnamese immigrant himself – but the candidate remains in the race, and in the headlines.

Upset that the GOP and Governor have moved so quickly to decry Ngyuen’s stupidities, the Democratic Party is trying to make this incident a bigger issue than it already is. The party’s statewide candidates are now claiming that the Republican Party created a hate-filled environment where Nguyen’s actions could be considered acceptable.

That is certainly the message Democrats want in voters’ minds as nothing else has been able to stick on the California Republican Party this election cycle – not even the stench of George W. Bush. And for as much press as Nguyen’s letter is getting in the English-language press, you can imagine what kind of coverage it is getting in the Spanish-language media.

But overlooked in the row over Tan Nguyen’s letter is the candidate himself. Until a year ago, he was a Democrat.

In fact, Nguyen was a Democratic candidate in 2004 against Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

I say that Nguyen’s letter was either the stupidest or the most nefarious political act this year because part of me wonders whether he’s some sort of “Manchurian Candidate” planted by Democrats to pull this October stunt – and have it dragged out by the media going into the election. (Of couse, that’s Cold War thinking – Vietnam, where Nguyen was born isn’t the same as China for all kinds of reasons.)

That would take a lot of plotting and planning and coordination that, normally, I wouldn’t give Democrats credit to be able to do. But since they withheld information about Mark Foley for months – if not years – to make his predatory sexual behavior a campaign issue, I wouldn’t put anything past them.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 11:25 AM | Permalink

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