Ben Carson is the Herman Cain of 2016, and it is not because he is the lone black GOP contender. He is the outspoken outsider, someone who can speak “truthiness” to power, and criticize big government without the hypocrisy of drawing a big government paycheck, unlike his contenders speaking from Washington, or a Governor’s mansion.
He represents the inflated, but wishful, fantasy that anyone can pull themselves up from their bootstraps if they just work hard enough, even despite challenges presented by racial and economic disparity or our nation’s history of discrimination. He is the self made man, who is not cut from the same elite cloth of his top opponents. Distinct from the likes of Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, or Mitt Romney, politics is not the family business. Family is his business, or at least that is how he has portrayed himself on the pre-campaign trail.
He told Fox that most of his life was, “spent trying to give life to children, trying to give them quality of life,” and that when he looks at America now, he wonders what kind of life they will have. “I have to fight for that,” he said.
It is easy to inspire with platitudes as all of our individual ideas of “quality of life” spark our own imaginations, but when it comes to specifics, it’s evident he is not ready to lead the nation forward. He told a conservative talk show host that Congress should replace judges that overturn bans on marriage equality and agreed that recent favorable decisions marked, “open season on Christians.”
At the end of the day he is willing to flame the same fires that get the base roiled at the establishment. That’s the value progressives get from a Carson, or a Cain — their willingness to exploit points of contention within the ranks of the Republican party.
Earlier this week Carson spoke to a group of health care professionals at a conference in Austin and told them that it was a mistake to advocate for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without offering an alternative. That in itself is a great idea, however, he does not offer an alternative that unifies the party or help to expand its base.
The one area where a neurosurgeon might be credible on national policy he still chooses inflammatory framing calling the health care law, ‘the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.’”
He owes a great deal of his grassroots popularity to outrageous statements even comparing ISIS zealots to American Patriots saying, “They got the wrong philosophy, but they’re willing to die for what they believe, while we are busily giving away every belief and every value for the sake of political correctness.” The AP reported that the comment was met with an interruption of applause by Republican officials to which Carson followed with, “we’ve got to change that.”
The AP also reported the spokesperson for the RNC had no immediate comment on his comments, which tells me they just want him to fade away very soon. He’s not like an annoying fringe member of Congress that can be primaried into obscurity or banished from leadership. They will simply have to wait until he self destructs.
When asked about his plans to enter the race for the White House officially, he said he would announce before the end of spring. He told Fox that others getting in the race sooner did not affect his plans because “I’m very meticulous. I’m a surgeon, a surgeon. All the I’s have to be dotted all the T’s have to be crossed.”
He was, I guess, proven to be not so meticulous when his best selling book was criticized for plagiarism. He recently admitted he did not “appropriately cite and acknowledge all sources.”
So far it doesn’t appear the plagiarism scandal will be the one to sour his potential candidacy, for Cain it took several allegations of sexual harassment before he finally called it quits on December 3rd, 2011.
For now Carson’s brand is riding high. The National Draft Ben Carson For President Committee has raised over $12 million, its Facebook page has almost 200,000 likes and his own personal Facebook has over 1,000,000 fans — that’s going to leave a lot of disgruntled and disappointed grassroots conservatives in 2016.
Carson also told Fox that, “it is so critical that we have the right candidate in 2016, making an error and allowing another progressive to get in who can appoint two or three more Supreme Court judges will have a profound effect on what America becomes.”
Indeed it will, and unless the GOP can silence him soon, we will most likely have Dr. Carson himself to thank for that.
Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.