10 Nov A Few Comments on the Politics of Ben Carson’s Biography
I think I have been pretty consistent in my take on Ben Carson throughout this election cycle: I like him personally (if you spend any time with him, you will see he is a charming and gentle and sincere man), and at the same time I do not support his candidacy. I am probably sympathetic to a good percentage of his views, but my concerns have been entirely outside of the realm of policy. There has not been, in my opinion, a necessary respect for the need of savvy coming from his campaign. His decision to gleefully walk into that “would you support a Muslim in the White House” question was staggering to me. He has not shown a seriousness around foreign policy that I think should be at the co-heart of this campaign. He has the soft-spoken ability to articulate the accurate message of American freedom in an opportunity society, but he has put little meat on the bone, and with no political or policy experience at all, he needs to have MORE meat, not less. Ultimately, while I admire much of his story and life testimony, he would be minced meat in a general election, in my humble opinion.
All of this forms the background for my opinions on the last week of issues. I hate writing pieces like this because basically I think his defenders are going to hate me and his opponents will too. But that doesn’t mean I am not right.
Ben Carson is not likely to get knocked out of the primary over this present hubbub. It is too much of a mix of seemingly fair questions with truly weird criticism with blatant overreach. The West Point claim in the biography is, at first glance, a very fair question. The pyramid video is, based on the context of past Palin’s in our cause, weird and not surprising. And the whole “we found a friend of yours from 50 years ago and he said he remembers you being nice” is, um, retarded. So what you have is a PERFECT landscape for Carson to dismiss it ALL as media bias overreach. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
Reasonable people know that interviewing “some friend” from fifty years ago to ask if Carson was nice or not is idiotic and of no use to anyone in this charade. The pyramid deal is a mystery to me, because on one hand I’ve grown used to people like Carson having bizarre opinions on stuff like this, but I also am not sure what the context or relevance was in that old video. The more fantastic things in the biography, though, do warrant scrutiny, and I think I have read enough and listened enough to have wrapped my arms around it.
Pretty simply put: He exaggerated. Would he have been accepted into West Point with open arms? Of course. Did ROTC recruiters and other mucky-mucks tell him to go there. Of course. And did that get into his biography a couple decades later with hyperbole attached to it? Sure. Was it deliberate? Who knows. I don’t see how a man of his story could have “aided” his story by flowering up this little detail. It makes no sense. My suspicion is that they added on to the story when the book was being written not believing anyone would care. It was a fair bet.
I don’t think anyone is wrong to call him out for exaggerations or even “misremembering” things. A grown-up can safely conclude that some things are misremembered because we’re all old now and don’t remember all the details perfectly. I suspect the West Point deal exceeded that – that there was some editorial license taken to flower it up. Not like “I fled gunfire in Bosnia” kind of stuff, but more “I was offered a deal to West Point when really I was just told I would be offered a deal to West Point kind of stuff”. The freaking horror.
Carson is doing the only thing he can do now and that is blaming the media. He has on his side the fact that it is obviously true. Obama’s book is filled with so many b.s. lies it isn’t even funny (google how his grandfather died, by the way, vs. what he said in the book). Hillary’s entire life and career is one of overt deception, secrets, corruption, quid pro quos, and bribery, it isn’t even funny. She is filthy dirty. No one has the guts to say that about Carson. He became a professional autobiographer and in that autobiographicing he colored up a few details. I’m still stuck in Bosnia with Hillary getting shot at, but I’m a conservative Republican, so what did you expect.
But the blame the media schtick, while true, is a two-edged sword. On one hand, it raises money, it fires up the base, and it angers people already preconditioned to be angry. But it also exposes a few things that the pro-Carson side needs to realize. Substance matters. Savvy matters. Technique matters. Being unfairly treated is enough to generate sympathy and emotion, but at the end of the day we have gone full circle.
1 – Carson’s campaign lacks the substance and gravitas and experience to rationalize a Presidency (my thesis)
2 – Media goes after him for combination of small ball things.
3 – His supporters get fired up because of #2. His opponents get fired up because of #2, in the other way.
4 – Carson’s campaign lacks the substance and gravitas and experience to rationalize a Presidency (my thesis)
So yes, the press is immorally unfair in how they go about things, and some of this Carson affair illustrates that. Yes, there is some exaggeration that took place in his book. And yes, people side on all of this with how they naturally line up.
And when all is said and done, I don’t think this man will be our President, but I say that for no other reason than the reason I did three weeks ago and three months ago.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am being shot at by Bosnian terrorists right now and my grandfather just gave his life fighting Dutch colonialists in Indonesia.