The reason Republicans lost the presidency in 2008 was because they nominated too moderate of a candidate in John McCain, many conservatives will tell you. They argue the same mistake was made in 2012 with Mitt Romney, not right-wing enough to provide a clear contrast with President Obama. Well, here’s their chance in 2016, with a wide array of candidates to choose from. But who have Republicans been enamored with so far?
Donald Trump led the polls for nearly five months, a man who, like Bernie Sanders, favors single-payer healthcare, was strongly opposed to the Iraq war and wants to raise taxes on the wealthy. He clearly has zero grounding in conservative political thought, but hey, he said mean things about immigrants and wants to build a huge wall, so I guess he’s legit.
Now Republicans turn their eyes toward Ben Carson, a candidate whose qualifications, knowledge of the issues and personal credibility are the most suspect of the entire field. Since rising to the top of several early state polls, every day reveals inconsistencies in Carson’s past tellings of his personal stories (upon which his entire candidacy is essentially based), or questionable connections to past business associates. More troubling for conservatives ought to be his obvious lack of forethought on where he stands on the issues, something which has been more than apparent for months before he caught fire in the polls.
At the third debate, Carson completely reversed himself on energy subsidies. Back in May he told Iowans he favored helping the ethanol industry by investing what we now spend on oil subsidies on fueling stations that would offer more ethanol options. On a nationally-televised stage he switched his position, saying he no longer supports subsidies in any form or assisting a specific industry. A flip flop like that would have dogged McCain or Romney for months among conservatives. Carson’s switch barely raised an eyebrow.
It was not the only position Carson has changed during his presidential run. As Craig Robinson laid out earlier in the week, he’s shifted on all kinds of issues, including gun control, abortion and gay marriage. And that’s not to mention the vast number of incendiary statements he’s made on Sunday morning talk shows, some of which he’s later walked back.
His defenders argue that the media plays gotcha games with him and that his varying responses are simply him coming into his own as a candidate, having never run for political office before. What a load of crock. The reason Carson struggles when pressed on the campaign trail is obvious.
He has no idea what he’s talking about.
Take, for example, his interview with Neil Cavuto after the debate. For most of the previous two hours on stage Carson was able to avoid answering serious, in-depth questions. He never jumped into the fray, perfectly content at receiving the least speaking time of all the candidates. The few times he was presented with a tough question, he rambled through some nice-sounding platitudes to get to the end of his time. He did the same with his Cavuto interview.
“I’m not saying one way or the other,” Carson hedged on whether he’d renominate Janet Yellen for the Fed. “I’m saying is that we need to have a central bank that understands that we have to have responsible, predictable policy. Which means we’ve got to have to somehow tie our currency to something.”
How does an answer like that satisfy any conservative voter who cares about the country’s fiscal policies? Carson dodges the direct Yellen question, and then mumbles through some words that don’t mean anything. We have to “tie our currency to something.” OK, doctor.
Then Cavuto asks him about bank bailouts, something Cavuto pressed Ted Cruz on repeatedly in the debate. If a Bank of America is on the brink, would a President Carson allow them to go under?
“I do not believe in government intervention in a capitalist society,” Carson said after staring into space for a few moments. “I believe in setting up mechanisms that will warn people that we’re not going to do that. But quite frankly, if we had allowed some of the banks to fail the last time around, there were a number of second tier banks that had done things quite effectively.”
“So you’d let it go?” Cavuto asked again.
“Well, you see the way I think about things is not A or B, I always bring in C,” Carson replies.
“But time’s a wasting, you’re in a meltdown situation like we had in 2008, you don’t have a lot of time,” Cavuto insisted.
“There’s another option, like allowing those depositives to shift to the next level of banks,” said Carson. “So that they don’t lose their money, but that the bank that was doing things inappropriately suffers the consequences of doing things inappropriately.”
What on earth does any of that mean? I guess from this conversation Carson would allow the top banks to fail, but immediately shift their money into a “second tier” of banks that were doing alright. Maybe? Is that even a thing? And notice how when presented with two difficult options, of which he clearly has put no thought into before this interview, he just throws out a random, vague “C” option to escape.
It’s all quite funny considering Carson touts how he went from one of the worst students in his school to one of the best. But during this presidential campaign he’s acted like his earlier self, like the kid in the back of the room who stays silent, hoping to not be called upon because he doesn’t done his homework.
Come on, conservatives. This is who you’re getting excited about? He’s playing you. Carson is in way, way over his head, and simply tosses out super conservative-sounding sound bites from time to time to make it appear he’s part of your cause. But there is absolutely zero depth there.
All of the red flags of Ben Carson being a horrible candidate and likely fraud are there for all to see:
- He makes nearly any incendiary statement a reporter leads him into, then occasionally apologizes afterward.
- He believes bizarre theories, like that the Egyptian pyramids were used for grain storage, an idea rejected by anyone who’s actually, you know, studied the pyramids.
- His campaign purchased a very expensive tour bus once owned by Maya Angelou, yet barely ever uses it.
- Carson took off weeks from the campaign trail to do a book tour, right as he was gaining momentum.
- In fact, he rarely campaigns in person at all in the early states, gone from Iowa for nearly two months at one point in the early fall.
- He was involved for years with a medical supplier accused of false advertising.
None of these are hallmarks of a true-believer conservative warrior who can lead the movement to victory in either a primary or general election, much less someone who can articulate the message to the American people like Ronald Reagan once did. It’s the calling cards of a con man. But it’s all OK because he’s under attack by the “liberal media?” Or because he was mean to Obama’s face at the National Prayer Breakfast years ago?
Carson is not simply making a fool of himself, his candidacy is making a laughing stock of the entire conservative movement. For conservative voters to get hoodwinked into backing such an obvious ideological lightweight is an indictment of their seriousness, ability to lead the country and legitimacy of their standing with the Republican Party.
by Pat Rynard