When Your Presidential Fantasies Get Real: The Ben Carson Implosion

It was never meant to get this far.

Carson insisted that the story, as recounted in his 1996 autobiography “Gifted Hands,” was accurate.

“What about the West Point thing is false? What is false about it?” he asked, according to the AP. “I think it is perfectly clear. I think there are people who want to make it into a mistake. I’m not going to say it is a mistake, so forget about it.”

The GOP frontrunner pointed to the passage of time to explain why he couldn’t recall who had offered him the scholarship.

“It’s almost 50 years ago. I bet you don’t remember all the people you talked to 50 years ago,” the AP quoted him as saying.

Known for his calm demeanor, Carson appeared unusually agitated during the press conference, accusing the press of engaging in a “witch hunt” to tarnish his reputation.

All through the last month or so of the primary campaign, Ben Carson has had a look on his face, and that look is OH SHIT NOW I MIGHT HAVE TO DO THIS. That look is the look you get when you’re sure the hottie who’s waving at you is waving at someone behind you because YOU, really? You haven’t even showered, and Fine Young Thing is looking YOU up and down, you have got to be kidding me.

This wasn’t supposed to happen, like happen happen. Ben Carson was supposed to give a few speeches, and appear in a couple of debates, and pack his book signings, and then he was going to drop out and nobody would be the wiser. Nobody would vet his every public and written statement. Nobody would call up West Point. Nobody would ask him why the pyramids were built.

Nobody would nitpick all the minutiae our political press likes to nitpick so they don’t have to learn about actual policy, and by the way, fuck everything forever for THIS being the stuff that takes Carson down. He doesn’t know what the debt ceiling is, he thinks Jesus is genuinely hanging out with him on weekends, and he has no idea what he’d do if somebody set off a nuke in downtown Memphis, but sure, he made up a story about high school this one time UNCLEAN UNCLEAN.

The pyramid thing is actually the least insane thing he believes.

None of this was ever supposed to be examined. And then about a month ago people took a look at the GOP field and said hey, why not this guy? He seems to have an inspirational personal story and can speak in complete sentences. And suddenly it had to WORK. You know how you say if you won the lottery you’d buy Barbados and govern as a benevolent dictator? Here is eleven hundred squillion dollars, buddy, go do it now.

This flummoxes a lot of people, to be honest. A lot of people talk big about what they’d do with power and turn into deer in the headlights when they get it (see Bush, George W. and Goat, My Pet). I have some sympathy for Carson here. He’s not measurably crazier than anybody else in the race — he might even be less — and from his perspective, this is kind of ridiculous. John Kasich doesn’t have to answer for stuff he actually did as governor of his state, and we’re gonna hold Carson accountable for stories he made up about bar fights and shit?

He wasn’t counting on anybody taking him seriously. And now that they are, it’s all falling apart.

A.

5 thoughts on “When Your Presidential Fantasies Get Real: The Ben Carson Implosion

  1. Alger says:

    See, right here is all the evidence you need of a witch hunt. Dr. Stabby was all kinds of imaginary violent in Junior High School, not High School.

    Your methodology is obviously flawed *.

    *Note: Anyone who agrees to an interview and starts questioning an obviously irritated and prepared interviewer on their research methodology** and starts spouting a garbled version of Karl Popper is:

    A) obviously trying to bully them into shutting up about what they found.
    B) trying to hide other made-up things that you will uncover by proceeding along the same path.
    C) really interesting television, on CNN too of all places.

    **Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahha….CNN…hahhahahahhahahaha……research methodology…hahhahhahahahahahhaha

  2. gratuitous says:

    Gee, we went from oh-so-honest Ben Carson to hey-that-was-50-years-ago Ben Carson. Actually, it’s closer to 45, but who’s counting? While it’s true I don’t remember everyone I talked to 50 years ago, I’d like to think if I “wrote” a book about it, I’d get it nailed down pretty well, sift my memory, run through every personal paper I could scare up, and get it right.

    As for Carson, he couldn’t just say that he considered going to West Point, like thousands of other young men. No, in his telling, he had to meet with Gen. Westmoreland. None of this sending letters to his Congressman or Senator like some kid with a dream for Dr. Destiny; he gets an on the spot offer directly from the General.

    Yeah, it’s too bad that this puffery has tripped up Carson, instead of something substantive. But on so many levels, the story reveals a lot more about Carson than he intended it to. There’s the puffed-up sense of self-importance, the grandiosity, and when called out on it, the petulance that sounds like a man not accustomed to having his work reviewed, his word vetted.

  3. montag47 says:

    Carson doesn’t have a political legacy to inspect, as do virtually all of the others (except for T.rump and Ms. Demon Sheep). That means the only way to vet him is looking at his own statements about whatev, and the vetting is being done because he’s now high in the polls.

    Carson has run into trouble both with his pyramids nonsense and his personal narrative not because the press is singling out niggling things about him, but because Carson himself is offering up this bullshit as proof of his piety bona fides. He’s an evangelical of sorts, and it’s the kind of thing that evangelicals lap up like cats do cream. Carson’s mistake is in thinking that most everybody in the country is just like him and his evangelical friends–they’ll believe him because he’s a believer, too. That’s demonstrably not true. He’s counted on this religiously-themed rags-to-sainthood story to catapult him over the huge high wall of his own ignorance about governance and his general religion-induced stupidity about the way the world is. If most of that story is bullshit, then he slams right into that wall, hard. He has nothing left to run on.

    The simple truth is that he never had anything to run on, period, except for that story. And, in just cursory examination of that story, chunks of it now seem to be untrue, because of the flaws in his own narrative (it’s not that he didn’t get a “full scholarship” to West Point–it’s because there is no such thing as a scholarship, full or otherwise, to West Point, and his lack of knowledge about that showed that he was being untruthful in his narrative, which then led some in the press to further vet his statements, and it’s now increasingly likely that he made up the whole scene with Westmoreland out of whole cloth, because Westmoreland was in Washington, D.C., playing golf on the date of the dinner Carson described). Same with the story about his “Perceptions 301” psych course at Yale. It’s all made up, because there was no psych course of that name or number at Yale at the time. The story was intended to show his exceptional honesty, and if it was entirely fabricated, well, it shows his honesty to be fabricated, as well. Again, remember that this guy wants to be President–he’s running as if he wants to be, he’s declared himself a candidate–and if all he has as qualification is the story, and the story’s in large part false–then he’s lying on the job application.

    I keep wondering if we’re eventually going to find out that his real name is Ferdinand Waldo De Mara, Jr.

  4. ChariD says:

    He doesn’t get a pass. He’s the one who offered up this bullshit as example[s] of why he’s a bootstraps kind of miracle. Can’t deal with the heat? Get the fuck out of the kitchen.

    Anyone with a passing knowledge of any military academy (collegiate level) knows there are no scholarships. You’re appointed — and no one pays tuition. You just agree to serve x-amount of years in the service as an officer.

    montag47 nailed it on the head: he’s lying on his job application.

  5. jcsmith2 says:

    “and by the way, fuck everything forever for THIS being the stuff that takes Carson down. He doesn’t know what the debt ceiling is, he thinks Jesus is genuinely hanging out with him on weekends, and he has no idea what he’d do if somebody set off a nuke in downtown Memphis” – This! 1000x THIS!

    It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Dr. Carson is a pathological liar, but that’s not really a disqualification for elective office (see Nixon, Richard M.). And yes he’s is most certainly far too self aggrandizing (again not a problem, see Bush, George W.). While those things are annoying, they’re not terribly worrying.

    What *IS* terribly worrying is the fact that Dr. Carson doesn’t seem to understand how our system of government works (he can’t just declare things to be), what monetary policy… The list just goes on and on.

    This man truly scares the shit out of me…

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