It was only a matter of time before the Ben Carson campaign imploded, but there are still many persons who want to believe in him, even after his campaign admits he lied about ever being extended an invitation to attend West Point.
Much of his youthful experiences have been called into question, but that doesn't deter his supporters, who believe that CNN is mounting a witch hunt against their revered candidate. It had been Carson's firm religious beliefs driving his campaign and like one of those tele-evangelists flushed out by the news media, his "flock" sticks with him.
The odd part is that Carson has displayed virtually no charisma throughout this campaign. His biggest appeal seemed to be his "calmness," which Trump has been deriding as "low energy." This imperturbable nature seems a throwback to Clint Eastwood's Western characters, which I guess gives voters a sense of security, especially with Trump and other candidates appearing to fly off the rails at any moment.
Carson himself said that his calm nature belied the seething volcano underneath, or words to that affect. He recounted adolescent experiences of nearly stabbing a friend to death and being forced to defend himself at gun point at a fast food restaurant. We were led to believe that Carson had a tough upbringing and his only way to escape this cycle of violence was through God and medical school.
Newsweek article, his mother found religion when he was 12, and he accepted this new faith. This is what pulled them out of poverty. The only problem is that Detroit was still a thriving city in 1964, when his presumed religious conversion took place. It wasn't until the 1970s that Detroit began to experience rapid economic decline. There were plenty of opportunities for Blacks as well as Whites in Motor City.
Apparently, Young Ben also had quite a temper and turned to psychology journals as well as the Bible to "modify (his) personality traits." On the campaign trail he has promoted his faith moreso than his medical background, although he said that being a surgeon helps keep his emotions in check, which is why he appears to some to be "low energy."
His campaign has beguiled the press and his rival candidates. He hasn't stood out at the debates and he suspended his campaign to promote his new book, although one feeds into the other. This apparently turned out to be a mistake, as the press began to focus on his books, finding a great number of inconsistencies that are being brought to light. The press is also digging into his public appearances, such as the time he gave a commencement address at a religious school, during which he put forward his theory that it was Joseph who built the pyramids to serve as grain silos. A theory he stood behind when questioned by reporters.
Naturally, Dr. Ben doesn't want this level of scrutiny. He had never really been challenged before, unless you count the malpractice suits that were leveled against him, even if they were dismissed. One out of five surgeons face malpractice suits each year, so even if we take Dr. Ben's full career, eight is a pretty high number. Many would like to think that the Medal of Freedom President Bush bestowed on the good doctor absolves him of any past surgical indiscretions.
This recognition vaulted Carson into the limelight. A movie was made shortly thereafter, based on his autobiography, Gifted Hands. You have to go back a few years earlier though to see where all this came from.
Ben Carson first met Armstrong Williams 22 years ago. Neither seem to recall the exact incident (not surprising) but Williams believes he had invited him on his radio show. Williams was one of the black voices developed by conservatives to promote their interests. Armstrong grew up in South Carolina and had earned his chops working for Strom Thurmond and Clarence Thomas. Despite the many ironies, there appears to be greater access for young enterprising Blacks in the Republican Party these days. GQ provided a glowing mini-biography of Williams earlier this year.
|Williams accompanying Carson on his visit to Israel|
Williams claims he is receiving no cash from Carson's campaign, yet he is very much at the heart of it, defending Carson in September when the emerging candidate fumbled questions regarding his outrageous statement that Muslim-Americans shouldn't be allowed to run for President. Williams was reluctant to give an interview to The Daily Beast, but offers some telltale signs that all was not on the up and up. To say that Carson is "insatiably curious about history and politics" is to greatly belie some of the recent statements Carson has made. Dr. Ben appears utterly clueless about how government works, much less the Constitution, and his sense of history seems entirely derived from the Bible. But no matter, Williams is the spin master in this campaign, turning everything Carson says into something misinterpreted by the media.
Williams once again came to Dr. Ben's defense on the West Point story, but it is proving not so easy to sweep under the rug. Americans don't like persons claiming false military ties, and I'm sure Carson is going to be skewered by Trump and others over this latest fabrication. I suppose Carson and Williams are relying on the gullibility of religious conservatives to look past these indiscretions and focus on Carson's faith, which has been made the center of the good doctor's campaign. This works for tele-evangelists, why not godly presidential candidates?
Unfortuantely, Carson seems to be rather dull-witted for a man of his education and too slow to respond. This is a serious handicap. Last time around, Herman Cain was able to hang in the race through November, largely thanks to his quick-fire humor, until allegations of his adultery doomed his campaign. Ben Carson was supposed to be the serious candidate, with little apparent sense of humor, who would go beyond the "Hermanator" and pose a serious threat in the early caucuses and primaries. He was leading Trump in Iowa by a substantial margin and the forces were on the ground to make a victory happen. Now, it looks like Carson won't even make it until the end of the month.
Paul Waldman wonders if this was just a con game to begin with. Carson seemed like a reluctant presidential candidate from the start, pushed into the race by those who saw a lot of money to be made off his campaign. In the last quarter alone the Carson campaign generated $20 million, far more than any other Republican candidate, spending virtually all of it, which does make one question what is going on here. Not his ardent supporters, however, who cling to Carson as if he were the Rock of Ages.
I don't think many persons fully realize how many Republicans come from so-called "fringe religions" like the Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. For the first time, these deeply fundamental Christian sects have one of their own running for President and they probably won't let him go right away. However, the "reach" of Ben Carson has taken a serious blow, and if nothing else he has hit his glass ceiling. It is hard to imagine mainstream voters going for a guy who appears to have embellished his youth for no other reason than to make him look like a repentant Born-Again Christian.
Ben Carson is nothing more than a Trojan Horse that religious conservatives pushed into the political ring hoping they could take over the party. It surprises me that they didn't go with a more charismatic figure like Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz, but I guess they were banking on other Republicans believing that Dr. Ben was the real deal, not some proxy for Fox News or conservative Super PAC. To this point, Carson had run what appeared to be an entirely "grass roots" campaign.
You just have to wonder why someone didn't fact check his autobiography or at least sought ways to mitigate the potential damage before the mainstream media started snooping around. It seems that Armstrong Williams, who has been with Carson for two decades, was too arrogant to believe anyone would be able to find anything that would stick. However, that West Point "scholarship" was just too juicy a piece of red meat. Pretty much everything else to this point could be more easily dismissed like those malpractice suits.
Many religious conservatives wanted to believe that Dr. Ben was their man after he admonished the President at a National Prayer Breakfast over health care and deficit spending. They probably will still believe in him despite the heavy scrutiny Carson is now facing from the mainstream media. Public vettings are never pretty. Just ask Barack, who had to deal with the heavy blow inflicted when the media dug up videos during the 2008 campaign of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright lashing out against the white establishment.
Whereas Obama proved to be a very resilient and contrite candidate, it is doubtful that Carson will have the same ability. This is a man who likes to double down on his absurd claims, even when his church didn't stand behind his pyramid claims.
To this point, Dr. Ben has shown no signs of doubt, much less contrition, a key to the Christian faith. This type of inflexibility may serve one well among his devoted followers, but it doesn't serve one well as a political leader, much less candidate. Ben Carson's days are numbered and there is nothing Armstrong Williams or his religious followers can do about it.