Is Ben Carson delusional?

It’s hard to argue that someone with the vast medical talents and storied career that Ben Carson has is delusional.

I’ll do it, though.

Carson is a retired neurosurgeon turned-Republican presidential candidate with no executive experience, no apparent prior knowledge of Middle East affairs and no overarching theme to explain why he should be the leader of the most important country on earth.

He gives a moving speech, weaving in elements of his inspirational life story, but looks entirely out of place in this race.

Watching him go through his campaign, with its series of awkward moves (like suspending voter rallies in order to promote a new book for three weeks), feels like watching your senile aunt talk to the coatrack.

Would somebody go check if she’s okay? She’s fine? Okay, just leave her.

Carson’s  also letting Armstrong Williams, who runs his business brand — he’s supposedly not part of the formal campaign — speak to the media about the complete collapse of his political operation.

This, we were briefly led to believe, is someone who thinks he’s ready to guide the nation for four years.

He’s delusional. Or he never planned on winning to begin with.

 

3 New Year’s Resolutions for me

A few things I plan on holding my eager, happy and ever-firmer ass to in 2016:

  1. Earlier wakeup time. As it is, I wake up well before most people I know. Let’s do 30 minutes earlier. What time is that? Not telling. Can’t tip off the competition. Which is everyone.
  2. No phone apps at work. Too many things buzzing, alerting and flashing on the phone are a massive distraction that is slowly eating away at my ever-thinning vail of stability.
  3. One night each weekend at home. This year I realized I was consistently feeling that I needed weekends for my weekends. I wasn’t leaving enough time for life’s administrative duties. Fixing that.

Let’s go.

Fareed Zakaria is the ‘brave’ one here

Inexplicable thought leader Fareed Zakaria copy and pasted wrote a column a couple weeks ago denouncing “anti-Muslim rhetoric” as “not brave”:

[I]ncreasingly, Americans seem to view Muslims as actively propagating a dangerous ideology, like communist activists. It’s not just Donald Trump. … And it’s not just on the right. The television personality and outspoken liberal Bill Maher made the expansive generalization recently that “If you are in this religion, you probably do have values that are at odds [with American values].”

 

What is most bizarre is to hear this anti-Muslim rhetoric described as brave truth-telling. … They are simply feeding a prejudice.

Implicit in Zakaria’s argument — assuming it’s his and not someone else’s that he attached his name to — is that it’s he who is brave for taking a stand against those arguing for greater scrutiny of Muslims in America.

Whatever your feelings about the best way to combat Islamic terrorism, it’s not even the remotest bit brave to charge Donald Trump and Bill Maher with “feeding prejudice” because they’re suspicious of Muslims.

That’s the same charge leveled by: the national news media, every federal-level politician, every celebrity in Hollywood and every intellectual in every university.

Bravery is when you take a position against the people in power. Bravery is not when you do like Zakaria, who simply echoed his friends in Washington and New York. (And by “echoed,” I mean he shares their feelings, not that he necessarily repeated word for word the work of someone else.)

Is it brave or not to repeat what the New York Times editorial board says every other week?

That’s Zakaria.

Is it brave or not to take the side of everyone else outside of media and politics?

That’s not Zakaria.

There is no such thing as ‘millennials’

Something from last week in AdAge:

In 2016, marketing and communications professionals will stop targeting millennials as one demographic and focus on reaching the younger consumers based on their passions, according to a study released today by Hotwire PR.

 

The agency’s seventh annual “Communications Trends Report,” which was based on crowdsourced data from 400 communicators across 22 countries, revealed that brands will look to engage consumers with age-agnostic content that emphasizes certain values.

Marketing people are generally very smart but nothing reveals their stupid side like their endlessly frustrating attempts to “appeal to millennials.”

They can’t do it because “millennials” doesn’t exist. Not in the way business executives want it to.

“Millennials” is an entire generation of young people that grew up with more options for everything than ever before: music, movies, websites, clothes, games, electronics. And yet media companies think they can capture at least a significant portion of that generation with basically anything that can easily be defined as really, really stupid.

The biggest failure, and thus best example, out there is the ABC News-Univision venture Fusion.

It’s supposed to be a news site “for millennials,” as if an entire generation enjoys certain types of news stories delivered in a certain type of way.

(The only people that habitual are the ones who, depressingly, must take their newspaper into the restroom; those aren’t millennials picking up newspapers.)

Most people reading this, especially millennials, have likely never heard of Fusion, even with a massive marketing campaign behind it and all the resources afforded it by its two parent companies.

Why? Here are some headlines appearing on Fusion’s front page right now:

  • “People fighting for gender-neutral toys just scored another victory”
  • “I’m confident about my hair thanks to my mom—and Instagram”
  • “Congressman Ted Lieu gets grilled by Hot Dog”

There’s also a video by Akilah Hughes, a comedian I think, wherein she talks about news and says former New York Times reporter Judith Miller “should shut the fuck up forever.”

Editors at Fusion might save time by simply handing their audience a turd and a vacuum because this shit sucks.

A lot of people think BuzzFeed, the mindless but sometimes entertaining website, nailed it among millennials. Look at their traffic and how much young people share their intentionally dumb lists!

BuzzFeed has succeeded among young people but also older people because they make content that’s easy to pass around and look at. (“Look at,” not “read” because BuzzFeed is almost entirely pictures and moving images, not unlike a child’s See ‘n Say.)

If companies are abandoning their pursuit of millennials, it’s a good thing. The world doesn’t need anymore Akilah Hugheses.

Finally getting Ben Carson

Ben Carson‘s appeal — he’s now leading the Republican presidential field in some national polls and in Iowa — escapes a lot of people in the media, including me.

Watching his performance in the first three GOP debates, so far, his main selling point seems to be: A stranger you might feel okay sharing your ferris wheel cart with.

But I picked up a magazine today and saw a quote by Carson that demonstrates at least partially why conservatives like him. It’s from a speech he gave in New Hampshire over the summer:

“We are falling for garbage. We are allowing ourselves to be colluded. You can’t just go through life worried about who’s on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ What are you willing to fight for? What are you willing to die for?”

That’s how at least half the country feels about their state of affairs right now and for the last several years. They feel they’ve been had by their own government and that it’s time to go on the offensive about it.

No other candidate has come even close to articulating things so eloquently. Can anyone see Jeb Bush saying that?

Details, policies and specifics aren’t there for Carson and, for now, they don’t matter to the people who like him.

It’s his message. That it comes from a gentle, world famous genius — “Finally,” conservatives say to themselves, “We’ve got one on our side! And he’s black!” — only helps.

People who need you to know they’re ‘Type A’

In Washington, D.C., people who work on Capitol Hill or in public affairs live for the moments where they can identify themselves as “Type A.”

It’s sometimes said in a way that’s supposed to indicate humility.

“I get up at 5 a.m. — a little Type A — so I can get a head start.”

“Here, I made a list of our options. I know, kind of Type A.”

“Oh, yeah, I organized my ‘fridge, ha-ha… Type A.”

Other times, it’s explained in the most obnoxious way possible, like this “Type A” author at the embarrassing women’s website EliteDaily:

Those who would be grouped mostly towards the Type A side of the spectrum are those that are more driven, more focused, more goal-oriented, more diligent, more likely to get stressed and emotional, more likely to have heart attacks and more likely to have mental breakdowns. …

 

I, myself, am a Type A personality, so I have no qualms in saying that we are the shit; we are.

The truth: People eager to let everyone know how “Type A” they are because they can complete everyday tasks– they’re not actually Type A. They’re insecure.

It’s the equivalent of telling people that you’re important. They’d know it if you were.

Beyoncé doesn’t tell strangers she has talent.

And by the way… 5 a.m. isn’t that early and being organized isn’t remarkable.

I get Donald Trump but what’s happening with Ben Carson?

Reasons for Donald Trump‘s popularity among Republican voters are obvious, even though they weren’t for a long time to the GOP dummies in Washington, D.C., and New York:

  • Trump is, first and foremost, a gifted performer. In this culture, dominated by television, you have to be.
  • He’s saying the things a lot of people — it’s particularly people who don’t really care about politics and don’t know the difference between political parties — feel everyday. Namely that the middle class gets no help while illegal immigrants and welfare recipients get everything.
  • He’s interesting, funny and engaging. That’s how he stays on TV.
  • Enthusiasm is always infectious. Trump has an enthusiasm lacking in every single other Republican candidate.

But Ben Carson‘s appeal is not obvious. I don’t have a clue what’s going on there.

His numbers keep going up even though he appears to be literally sleeping his way through the campaign.

Carson’s main appeal among GOP voters seems to be: conservative black guy (always a plus!) who’s probably a pleasant dinner guest.

Also, while we’re on the subject it’s worth remembering this bit from a 2013 Washington Post profile on Carson:

After a several-day onslaught from fans and the media, many wanting to know his potential political plans, Carson has eased away from suggestions he may have his eyes on the White House. The 61-year-old doctor now says the likelihood of a presidential run is “incredibly small.” What he really wants is a second career in television when he retires from Johns Hopkins later this year.
“Maybe if you write about it in your article, somebody will say, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” he said in an interview. …

 

He would like to do a show that focuses on “educating the American populace about things that are essential to our freedom,” he said in his soft, steady voice. Or he would like to try a show that would bring together people who hold opposing views on critical issues that are dividing the nation. Carson would then help them seek a middle ground or resolution.

 

“If the proper venue was presented, I would probably accept such a thing,” he said.