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.
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.
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.