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.

 

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.

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.

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.

Some predictions for the first Democratic presidential debate

Democratic presidential candidates finally meet Tuesday, tonight, on the same stage for their first primary debate.

Some predictions:

  • Hillary Clinton is going to crush it. The Republican PAC America Rising has a new ad out with clips from Clinton debating back in 2008. It’s meant to make fun of her but anyone watching it actually sees a Hillary with some fire. It will be refreshing to see that again after an already long campaign for her that’s been swallowed up by the email controversy.
  • People will finally hear Bernie Sanders‘ farfetched ideas and his numbers will fall. Until now, the buzz has been about Sanders’ “massive crowds” and how he’s a “real threat” to Clinton. Voters will get to see what he’s really about and it’s not what most people want.
  • Martin O’Malley needs a standout moment. He’ll get it by going after Sanders.
  • Nobody cares about Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee

Why do some people hate Carly Fiorina?

Carly Fiorina, a Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO, says she’s “distinctly horrifying to liberals.”

It’s true.

I’m not sure it’s just liberals but some friends of mine have volunteered their opinions about the 2016 race to me and the one person they hate the most isn’t Donald Trump‘s pink ass. It’s Fiorina.

One friend, a liberal gay guy, told me that when he watched the second GOP debate, it made him “hate” Fiorina. One of the reasons was her hair, which looks okay to me.

Another friend of mine, a woman journalist who is politically independent, told me she also hates Fiorina. She used the word “hate.” One of her reasons was the way Fiorina talks, which also seems seems okay to me. Fiorina doesn’t stutter. It’s mostly unemotional.

A third friend I know, a longtime Democrat, live-tweeted the second GOP debate and one of his posts said that he “cannot stand Carly Fiorina above all. Cannot.” His tweets didn’t say why, though.

The evidence that people hate her isn’t just anecdotal.

It’s easy to imagine Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus hooked up to a blood pressure monitor when she wrote in May, “I’m writing about Fiorina because, frankly, as a woman, her candidacy offends me.”

She’s offended. As a woman.

My theory: Fiorina delivers an entirely flawless performance in every TV hit, debate and radio interview she does. If you didn’t see her on ABC’s “The View,” the most hostile show a Republican woman can ever do, her performance can only be summed up as artful. Something to be studied in media training courses for Republican women for years.

Fiorina doesn’t stumble over her words. She has an answer for every question, which is to say, she answers every question.

She doesn’t move awkward in her seat or at the podium. She doesn’t embarrass.

New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser wrote a very critical column on Fiorina in September. But here’s how she described her:

On the campaign trail and on the debate stage, the lone female candidate among the 16 contenders for the Republican presidential nomination exudes a level of superhuman control posing as gravitas.

 

Every hair is locked in place. No skirt crease is offline. Every word emanating from Fiorina’s sculpted lips is delivered in practiced, soothing tones, her head tilted to an ­unthreatening 10-degree angle.

When you want someone to fail and she’s seemingly entirely unshakable, how can you not hate her.