Why shouldn’t Chelsea Manning run for the United States Senate? At age 30, she’s jobless and has no marketable skills except notoriety. Swimsuit shoots for Vogue aren’t going to pay the rent forever. Not only is keeping herself in the public eye a survival tactic, but the U.S. Army’s most famous ex-Private First Class wouldn’t be human if she didn’t thrive on mostly sympathetic attention after her six often brutal years in captivity at Quantico and Fort Leavenworth.
Up against these pressing needs, it seems downright unchivalrous to point out that she’s got no qualifications for the job. Who are we to grumble that her “roots” in Maryland stretch back all of eight months? However, there’s no discernible case to be made from the left for deposing reliably liberal, two-term Democratic incumbent Ben Cardin. As even Manning must know, Cardin is virtually certain to cruise to re-election unless he decides against running again.
For the record, we don’t get much joy out of ridiculing Manning, even though she’s now inviting it. In December 2016, Playboy supported Barack Obama’s commutation of Manning’s sentence for leaking reams of classified information to Wikileaks while she (then still Bradley) was serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010—and we’ve got threads and threads of abusive Facebook comments to prove it.
That wasn’t because we’ve got any fondness for Julian Assange, who made characteristically destructive use of Manning’s document trove. We just thought she’d served enough time and been treated with excessive harshness along the way, and we also respected her courage in declaring herself trans in prison and successfully fighting the Army to provide treatment for her gender dysphoria. But all the same, one thing Bradley Manning and Chelsea Manning have in common is that they’re both fairly odd ducks, and neither one’s mental acuity would give Albert Einstein competition.
The latest proof is Manning’s campaign-announcement video, which is serenely bizarre. “We live in trying times—times of fear, of suppression, of hate,” she intones over deliberately distorted footage of demonstrators clashing with police at last summer’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Wrong state, Chelsea. You’re running in Maryland, remember?) “We don’t need more or better leaders,” she goes on as we see the cavernous interior of the U.S. House of Representatives. (Wrong chamber, Chelsea. You’re running for Senate, remember?) “We need someone willing to fight.”
There isn’t one sentence in Manning’s drivel that offers any specific reason to vote for her.
It gets weirder. “We need to stop asking them to give us our rights,” says Manning as we see someone gingerly tapping on the office door of U.S. Senator Steve Daines. (Wrong state yet again: Daines represents Montana.) “They won’t support us. They won’t compromise.” Does she ever specify who “they” are, you ask? Hey, what kind of crypto-fascist, Trump-loving killjoy are you?
Finally, we see Manning herself in front of a mural, dressed in stylish all-black garb, assumedly left over from a vintage Honda motorcycle ad, and clutching a single red rose. Still in voiceover, she continues, “We need to actually take the reins of power from them. We need to fix this. We don’t need them anymore. We can do better.” The clincher comes with a closeup of Manning smiling—well, smirking, really, which is unfortunate. “You’re damn right we got this,” her voiceover concludes.
We don’t have to point out that this us-against-them, American-carnage sales pitch would provoke howls of outrage and contempt in libtard-land for its divisiveness and negativity had a right-wing candidate released it. But even so, its sheer incoherence is staggering. There literally isn’t one sentence in Manning’s drivel that has so much as a nodding acquaintance with any specific issue, let alone offers any specific reason to vote for her. She couldn’t even figure out how to work Maryland’s name in there somewhere—or worse, didn’t think she needed to. It’s a pure exercise in branding, and Manning is apparently convinced that her brand is the ideal combination of moral superiority and chic.
If it was once, it isn’t anymore. She’s made herself farcical, which was something Leavenworth couldn’t do but her own vanity has. It’s a lousy ending to Manning’s movie; she’s instantly become the Democratic counterpart to Christine O’Donnell, the 2010 GOP candidate for senator in Delaware who famously put out an ad declaring that she wasn’t a witch and nonsensically adding, “I’m you.”
Even if Manning’s own candidacy is meant more as a symbolic statement versus a serious run—to be clear, she doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, even if Cardin bows out—she knows she’ll attract donors and volunteers. And that will be a waste of left-wing resources in an election year that’s serious business. We aren’t saying Obama should have left her in jail, but he’s probably clutching his head now—or more likely, just laughing.