There was a cartoon drawn by cartoonist Emily Flake in the New Yorker (January 14) under the caption, "With apologies to Manchurian candidate.

The cartoon shows a man who looks like Mr. Donald Trump looking at a scantly dressed woman (possibly Mrs. Melania Trump) who is striking a pose in front of him.

The script reads: “Darling, why don’t you have a look at my Inauguration outfit?”

What does "Manchurian candidate" mean? Is it funny?

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    Have you read about the novel of that name? Jan 14, 2017 at 2:17
  • If you have not read the novel, watch the first film with Angela Lansbury. I can't remember whether or not the re-make includes the queen of diamonds. And, yes, it is a funny cartoon, but if I explain it, I'll ruin the laugh. Jan 14, 2017 at 2:22
  • @Janus Bahs Jacquet . No I haven't. I linked 'the novel of that name' you gave, but I still am unable to get an idea. What is the essence of the gag? Jan 14, 2017 at 2:23
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    Have a read through the plot summary—it's the queen of diamonds (the playing card) that is the keyword. Also note that the cartoon has “The Manchurian Candidate” (not Manchurian candidates) in quotes, making it clear that it is actually referring to the novel (or film) directly. Jan 14, 2017 at 2:25
  • 1
    This Washington Post article should help orient you to the various subtexts involved here. Yes, it is funny, in an awkward and scary way.
    – tchrist
    Jan 14, 2017 at 3:27

1 Answer 1


According to a WP article "Some call Trump a Manchurian candidate",

The comparison to Trump is derived from the thought that he might be a puppet of the Russian government.

The phrase first came into existence thanks to Richard Condon, who in 1959 wrote a novel by that title — “The Manchurian Candidate” — in which a platoon of decorated soldiers return from the Korean War, after being brainwashed to believe in communism. One of them has unwittingly become a sleeper agent, controlled by the communist Chinese and Soviet governments to perform a particular assassination, which will allow them to install a communist puppet dictator as U.S. president.

It's also explained in TVTropes as Manchurian Agent

A person is Brainwashed so that, on a certain trigger (either a situation, or else a phrase only someone in the know would ever say), they will go from their normal self to The Mole; they will most often remember nothing afterward. Occasionally, they can be programmed to do even more serious crimes, such as attacking their teammates outright, but their true value lies in the fact that their cover is so deep that not even they realise it.

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    And, critically, the queen of diamonds playing card is used as a sort of hypnotic trigger to provoke the brainwashed soldier into doing the bidding of foreign agents. In one scene a giant queen of diamonds is the outfit being worn by one of the other (female) characters in the book/movie.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 14, 2017 at 4:15

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