At Best we have an Idiot Savant
by Playthell Benjamin
Without a doubt the most interesting thing about the rise of Dr. Ben Carson as a leading candidate for the Republican presidency is that nobody has made an issue of his race. That no one seems to notice this is further evidence of its uniqueness as an American political event. Although Carson will be loath to admit it – given that he is the darling of the ignorant lunatic right that make up the Republican base – the reason his race is not an issue is because the outstanding presidency of Barack Obama has laid the silly question of whether a black man is capable of handling the job a moot point.
It is proof that the advice given to generations of black Americans by their teachers, preachers and parents is true: If you are the first black person to enter an arena you must be “twice as good” as your white competitors so that the door will remain open for the next black person to enter. Arguably, Barack Obama has been more than thrice as good as his predecessor George W. Bush.
Despite his pristine Anglo-Saxon pedigree and Myriad advantages as the son of a former US President /plutocrat, the incompetence of George W. Bush led to the first successful military assault on the US since the War of 1812 -despite several warnings of the impending attack; the worst collapse of the American economy since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and launched a war of choice against an un-offending nation that has destabilized the Middle East – which they had also been warned would happen by experts on the region – created ISIS and produced the conditions for a military conflict between the US and Russia that could easily spiral into a nuclear confrontation capable of destroying the world. In fact, its gonna take a miracle to prevent this grim scenario from materializing. Hence by any objective standard the leadership of Barack Obama – who corrected course, stabilized the sinking ship of state, and kept the nation afloat – has been a blessing.
It is incontestable that Ben Carson greatly benefits from the fact that he is running in a political environment in which a sitting black President saved the American Auto industry; led the economic recovery from the Bush crash; protected the American homeland from major terrorist attack; killed Osama bin Laden; kept the USA from starting anymore foreign wars; provided the American people with an affordable health care plan; made equal pay for women the law; blocked the environmentally disastrous dirty oil pipeline from Canada; signed a major nuclear arms treaty with Russia and won a coveted Nobel Peace Prize for it, and many other achievements far too numerous to list here, but the data is easily available online for anyone who wants to find it. And the book “The New New Deal,” which details how wisely the 700 billion dollars appropriated under the Economic Recovery Act was invested in the public interest free of any evidence of corruption is readily available on Amazon.
Maybe Clint Eastwood should have run this year- cs
Although our President has been dubbed “Barack the Magnificent” by the great and wise Calypsonian “Mighty Sparrow,” a Trinidadian, Ben Carson has not, and will not, admit his debt to President Obama is yet another example of how contemptuous he, and the Republican Party in general, is of the truth. As I write Carson is deeply embroiled in multiple controversies about things he wrote in his Autobiography, “Gifted Hands,” which cannot be corroborated by independent investigations conducted by professional journalists.
As it looks increasingly probable that Dr. Carson was lying about several incidents that are critical to the myth he has carefully constructed about himself, the pertinent question is why? When Dr. Carson wrote this book he was already considered one of the greatest neuro-surgeons in the world. And he had risen to this exalted status from the slums of a deindustrializing Detroit. As the son of a single working class mother he had not been afforded any of the advantages that most kids who go to Yale and become world renowned surgeons took for granted. He had done it all by his own hard work, exceptional intelligence and iron discipline; a model of intestinal fortitude fueled by grand ambitions.
This would be an outstanding resume for anyone. Hence the question is why did he feel the need to invent a series of incidents to embellish this already marvelous story? One thing is certain; we won’t get an explanation from Dr. Carson, the author of these fables. Indeed he has decided to adopt a stance West Indians call “wrong and strong.”
When reporters interrogate him about his claims to have met with General Westmoreland, the commander of US forces in the Vietnam War, at a time and place that the General’s schedule shows he was not present; or his claim to have sheltered white students in the biology lab of his high-school during black rioting following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, which none of the white former students interviewed by reporters remember; or the offer of a scholarship to West Point, when admission to the elite military academy is by congressional appointment and all expenses are paid, Carson becomes surly and accuses the press of being out to get him.
Carson becomes surly and accuses the press of being out to get him.
A rank amateur at the art and science of politics, Carson evidently had no idea of the intense media scrutiny he would receive if it looked like he could end up in the Oval office. Now he is running around like a chicken with a freshly wrung neck leveling ridiculous charges against the press; which will only insure that they will increase the scrutiny and all the skeletons in his closet as well as the bald faced lies he has told will be uncovered and held up to public scrutiny. In other words, he has chosen a self-destructive path from which it is difficult to foresee a road to victory.
As I write the press continues to break new stories about Carson that cast further doubt about his veracity and raises new questions about his character. For instance the Washington Post just broke a story about Dr. Carson being a defendant in a paternity suit brought by an unidentified woman in Florida, which Carson denounces as “blackmail,” yet refuses to submit to a paternity test.
This response does not pass the smell test; as a doctor Carson knows that the easiest way to determine truth from a lie in this instance is to take a DNA test. So what’s up wit dat? Carson may be viewed as a victim by anti-media conspiracy kooks and the fundamentalist fanatics on the Christian Right, but he is increasingly looking like a pathological liar and pompous prick to the rest of us. Yet despite the hysterical claims that the “liberal media” is out to get him the question remains: Why did Ben Carson fabricate stories about his life?
It is conventional wisdom among medical professionals that talented surgeons suffer from “a God complex.” When you consider what they do it is not hard to imagine how they might develop such an inflated self-concept because some of the things that they can do are God like. Saving lives by entering a person’s body and removing malignant organs or correcting the function of body parts to make them perform better, even transplanting organs from one body to another, replacing faulty parts with good ones like taking your car to a body shop, is incredible stuff that we mere mortals can only marvel at. Thus it is not hard to understand how a person who is capable of such amazing feats, that literally give people new and better lives, could develop a God Complex.
Alas, despite his attempts to appear humble, Ben Carson is beginning to come across as a raging megalomaniac who is out of touch with reality. His response to a reporter who questioned him about whether he would submit to brain surgery conducted by someone who had never attempted it before reveals the extent of his egomania and hubris.
He contemptuously dismissed the question with the comment that anyone who would ask such a question, suggesting it is analogous to his run for the presidency has no idea of the level of intelligence and skill it takes to conduct neuro-surgery. It is such a silly statement, unconnected from any sense of reality, one is forced to wonder if he is delusional, on drugs or some special species of idiot savant: a guy who performs life enhancing miracles in the operating room and spouts dangerous life threatening drivel outside.
If we followed Dr. Ben Carson’s prescriptions it would result in the deaths of many innocent people; whether we are talking about affordable health care, gun control, or his militaristic views on foreign relations – especially our relations with Russia, which would hasten the pace of our movement toward nuclear catastrophe in which millions would perish.
Given his religious fanaticism it is worth asking if Dr. Carson would welcome such a doomsday scenario, after all many fundamentalist Christians believe that the world will end in a fiery holocaust come the Rapture, which will follow the Battle of Armageddon when God and the Devil has the final throw down; the brawl for it all! As crazy as this may sound to rational people, there are millions of Americans who actually believe this deranged fantasy and many of them believe that the holocaust foretold in the Bible represents nuclear war between Russia – the forces of evil, and the US the elect of God.
One need only listen to the things Carson says regarding US-Russian relations to become suspicious of whether he shares these views. Among the things Dr. Carson has advocated on the record is “We should fight them everywhere” and “We need to be supplying weapons to the Ukraine.” This is a plan of action that would lead inexorably to a war with Russia.
Since any military conflict with the US would involve all the members of NATO, a military alliance that the US has craftily constructed to surround Russia militarily – violating the spirit if not the letter of the agreements that ended the cold war – the Russians would have no choice but to go on a nuclear alert, and should the conflict proceed we could accidentally slide into nuclear war.
The way Carson talks about setting up a “no fly zone” in Syria and ordering American planes to intercept any Russian aircraft that crosses it suggests that he views the situation like a schoolyard fight where one kid draws a line in the sand and dares the other to cross it. He even employs the language of a school yard fight, calling Vladimir Putin a “bully” who we have to “stand up to.” As outrageous as his statements on the Affordable Health Act are, or the self-aggrandizing lies he tells to spice up his life narrative, they pale in relation to his positions on a nuclear armed and increasingly nervous Russia.
To any sane and sober observer it is clear that the election of Dr. Ben Carson – a medical version of “Dr. Strangelove” – is a terrifying thought. Hence, contrary to his cries of harassment by the “liberal media,” bringing out the truth about just what a whacko Carson is represents their finest hour. It is amusing to hear right-wing whites who are borderline racist accuse the press of attacking Carson because he is black!
It is a scurrilous charge that insults both the integrity of honest reporters and the intelligence of the American electorate. The fact is that, as I previously pointed out, race has nothing to do with Carson’s troubles with the press; it is his incessant lying about his personal history and his willingness to say anything to placate the crazies in the Republican base – people who can only support a black person who is willing to deny his people’s history of oppression – i.e. the real history of the USA.
A case in point is how he speaks of America’s history of “freedom,” this from a man that would have been a slave when the constitution was written, and whose children could be auctioned off like piglets –a wretched condition that lasted 250 years! Another striking example is his support of white racist flying the Confederate flag at NASCAR events, flying in the face of the struggle by black and white Americans to remove this symbol of slavery and treason from American life after the mass murder in a South Carolina church by a young white mass murderer who was enamored of the flag and all that it symbolized. . The things that Carson says in defense of these positions suggest a man who is totally out of touch with reality.
For instance he says: “Swastikas are a symbol of hate for some people, too. And yet they still exist in museums and places like that. If it’s a majority of people in that area who want it to fly, I certainly wouldn’t take it down.” This comment won him the endorsement of the retired redneck NASCAR star Richard Petty, who describes the doctor as “very humane.” Carson is so ignorant of the world beyond the operating room he comes across as a character in a comedy of the absurd.
He apparently does not know that flying a Nazi flag in public is illegal in Germany, and if those rednecks dared to fly a Nazi flag over their events the organized Jewish community would drive NASCAR into obscurity and ruin by getting all the major corporate sponsors withdraw their support and no television networks would broadcast their races – including FOX. NASCAR would revert to the backwoods cracker event that it used to be. And they well know it; so that’s not going to happen. Is this guy really so out of it that he cannot distinguish the difference between displaying a Nazi flag in a museum exhibit denouncing Nazism and triumphantly flying a Confederate flag at a NASCAR race?
Whatever one may decide in this instance, the overall character of his comments – of which we have discussed a representative sample – suggests that he is either a soulless charlatan ready to tell as many lies as he thinks he needs to in order to advance his political career; a colossal ignoramus about history, politics, economics and foreign affairs; or he has serious mental problems. His performance in the Republican primary debate tonight, November 10th, leaves no doubt that he is an ignoramus in all of these critical areas. He is a super-lightweight vying for the Heavy-Weight crown of politics, and his mental stability remains an open question.
How then do we explain his appeal to so many white Republicans? After all, they have put him within a few points of the lead in the Republican presidential campaign, heads and shoulders above capable career politicians like Governors Jeb Bush, John Kaicish and the governor of New Jersey, all of whom are talking crazier in an effort to compete with the front-runners Trump and Carson. I believe the answer to this enigma lies in the nature of the contemporary Republican/Tea Party.
This is a party that has built a worldview based upon the denial of science, failure to recognize the international realities but clings to the outmoded and dangerous ideology of “American Exceptionalism,” rejection of the facts of US history, weaving a web of outright lies about their democratic opponents, and continues to refer to Russia as the “Soviet Union.”
It is also a party that resists taxing the rich among us despite a mountain of evidence that the distribution of wealth between the rich and the rest of us is economically inefficient; morally bankrupt and unchristian; openly despises the government as an institution and has convinced millions of Americans that the Federal government, which they elect, is also their enemy. It is no wonder that such a party cannot govern. The recent Republican rule under George Bush more than adequately makes this point.
Given the bizarre world of the Grand Obstructionist Party it is not surprising that Ben Carson looks like a hero to his base and a weirdo to the rest of us. Carson is common fare for black Republicans; whom I have repeatedly pointed out are all strange birds – remember Herman “Suga” Cain and “Uncle” Justice Thomas, Mr. “Nine Nine Nine” and the black mummy on the Supreme Court who acts like a sounding board for the opinions of that right-wing greaser Antonin Scalia. There seems no end to the irrational things Carson has said he believes; his vociferous insistence that the Pyramids of ancient Egypt were a granaries built by Joseph to store grain for the Jewish people, not tombs for the pharaohs as archaeologists have demonstrated for over a century.
As dangerous a religious fanatic as any ISIS soldier.
He clings to this silly belief despite the fact that, as the big builder and political rival Donald Trump pointed out, the Pyramids are solid rock structures with room for little else except the pharaoh’s tombs. This kind of information is very easy to research, but Carson says he got his information from the Bible, which suggests that Carson has no interest in factual information or scientific analysis outside of the medical field.
This is reason enough to confidently conclude that to elect him President would be a danger to the entire world! After all the known facts are carefully considered, one thing is certain: Something is missing in the mind and character of Ben Carson that unsuits him to be the Chief Executive of the American government and especially Commander-in-Chief of the US armed forces – the last thing the world needs now is another tough talking religious zealot and reckless chicken hawk directing American firepower.
If I had to sum it up succinctly, I’d say the guy is nuts!
Benjamin is a veteran political journalist out of Harlem NY. His essays can be read on his blog site Commentaries on the Times.