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Ben Carson’s Looming Scandal: Porkgate

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Ben Carson’s Looming Scandal: Porkgate


All eyes will be on Ben Carson on June 6, and whether he will either stomach or tactfully avoid the sweet taste of fresh pork.

The neurosurgeon and GOP presidential candidate has been invited to a fundraiser, hosted by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, that will consist of a motorcycle ride and pig roast.

Now, what need concern Carson may not be the motorcycle ride from Des Moines to Boone. His real trial will come at the pig roast, when the nation — and Iowa Republicans — will meet the man who has written of his utter loathing for the other white meat, and the difficulties he has faced in the past when attempting to conceal his distaste for it.

Carson claims to have been a vegetarian for most of his life, but “out of consideration — in other words, to be nice — I have learned to eat chicken or turkey in situations where I cannot gracefully manage to have a vegetarian meal.”

In his self-help book for young people, You Have A Brain: A Teen’s Guide To T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G., Carson recounts an incident in which he attempted to avoid eating pork out of respect for decorum, but was found out:

My wife and I still laugh about the time we were invited to a small dinner party at the home of friends who had forgotten we were vegetarians. The main course that night happened to be pork chops with pineapple topping. I have never eaten pork, and among so few guests, I knew my avoidance of the entree would not go unnoticed. So I served myself rice and vegetables then scooped some of the pineapple onto my rice, hoping it might look as though a pork chop were lurking underneath there somewhere. I also hoped the hostess would not notice.

No such luck. Unfortunately, the flavor of the pork had soaked into the pineapple and made me so nauseated that I could not eat. When our hostess realized the problem, she was embarrassed anyway.

The so-called “Roast and Ride,” according to the AP, counts among its attendees Carson’s fellow Republican players, former Hewlitt-Packard executive Carly Fiorina, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Carson wouldn’t be the first Republican to have to genuflect to Iowa voters on the issue of pork. Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor who is a possible (though increasingly unlikely) Republican presidential candidate, vetoed a bill last November that would have outlawed pig crates considered inhumane — a move that was widely interpreted as a bid for Iowan support, and a successful one at that.

Whether Dr. Carson plans to swallow his pride (and pig) to curry Iowa’s favor remains to be seen. His campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Sam Reisman

Sam Reisman is the former managing editor at The National Memo, where he still writes the weekly "This Week In Crazy" column. His writing has appeared in Flavorpill, The Huffington Post, Columbia Daily Spectator, and Bwog. He was the publisher of the 2010 edition of Inside New York, an annual guidebook to the city for students and young professionals.

Since 2011, he has co-curated and hosted Peculiar Streams, a showcase for NYC-based writers, musicians, comedians, and filmmakers. He is a staff writer at Mediaite, and blogs at SamReisman.com.

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  1. TZToronto May 11, 2015

    Carson needs to do some fancy footwork here (maybe he’ll trip!). He should make it clear up front that he does not eat pork but has no problem with the pork industry itself. His is simply a personal preference. (He could say that it makes him vomit.) Those hosting the event should be sensitive enough to provide an alternative meal for one of the “bright lights” [sic] at the event.

  2. Sand_Cat May 11, 2015

    As a meeting of Republicans, this sounds like cannibalism.

    1. mike May 12, 2015

      Bull S$$t!!!
      Another pathetic article from NM.

      1. Sand_Cat May 12, 2015

        Obviously, you enjoy this :>)

        I agree that this article was rather silly; I read it because I thought it was something to do with political corruption. It’s the kind of crap one finds in our over-sensationalizing, shallow coverage media.

  3. fortunev May 11, 2015

    It is cannibalism. Lots of two-legged pigs eat lots of other four-legged pigs.

  4. davidcayjohnston May 12, 2015

    Revealing, the above anecdote about Carson trying to hide from other dinner guests that he had no pork on his plate. Should a man who cannot forthrightly say he does not eat pork and tries to deceive friends — friends he fears will notice his not eating pork — have his finger on The Button?

    1. mike May 12, 2015

      What an asinine comment.
      He didn’t want to embarrass his host/hostess, it had more to do with them than with him.
      And you thought this was a relevant article. Not!!! Just a fluff piece by NM that fits your mentality!!! Silly and stupid.

      1. pisces63 May 13, 2015

        Sorry, as a woman who has hosted, we are not embarrassed but can be miffed because having invited the person, they should have made their preferences known before hand and be accommodated for it. My daughter has a best friend, a long time vegetarian and is given many choices with no meat. THAT is the gracious thing to do, not the way he did it. THAT makes him look inconsiderate. It’s relevant because he has shown he is not forth coming or as I thought, will do anything to please those people to be accepted by them. Watch him. I no more believe he is a complete vegetarian then there is a man on the moon. He started eating chicken…..really? No, as a doctor, he found out the total vegetarian life is NOT healthy. That friend of my daughter’s married and had a little girl. She tried to raise her vegetarian. Did not work. She is legally blind from a genetic problem but it went from treatable, as her father’s was, to almost total blindness due to the wrong diet and her mother was put under a court order to give her fish and chicken. Me, can’t wait for my first barbecue.

        1. mike May 13, 2015

          I guess you didn’t read what he said.

          “My wife and I still laugh about the time we were invited to a small dinner party at the home of friends who had forgotten we were vegetarians.” Catch the word “forgotten”. kapoof their went your argument.
          Talk about “not forth coming” and you think Hillary is, now that is funny.
          And I can’t wait until you learn to read.

          1. pisces63 May 13, 2015

            So, I misread. My bad. The rest I stand by. I don’t believe he really is. My ideology is not warped. I will never vote for another republican for dog catcher. Her in Ohio, I would have voted for Kasich over the democrat FitzGerald. I left that blank. The last few years have shown me the abject bigoted, lying, vote taking agenda the right has used to denigrate this president and me as a black woman. Plus, he said nothing. He wrote it.

          2. mike May 13, 2015

            Heck, I would guess you have never voted republican.
            I don’t have racist/bigoted cell in my body but i am a racist for not believing in Obama and his policies, policies that have divided this country and actually slowed the economic growth.
            He is a poor leader domestically and his foreign policies are a disaster. None of which is caused by the republican party.

          3. pisces63 May 13, 2015

            You sir are a liar. It is directly because he is black and he has been hindered by the white right, republicans. Be delusional on your own time. They blocked any job making. Lied about taking away their 2nd amendment rights when in fact any idiotic half-wit with any knowledge of the constitution knows, no president can change or authorize a change. In fact, it cannot be changed but amended which he nor any other president can do. They disrespected him in public and among our allies. He ‘dropped’ the mike’ on them at the SOTU and they threw a white man’s hissy fit and sicced Bebe Netanyahu on him. OOOOOHhhhhh, scary. They make sorry statements like, he wasn’t raised like us. GOOOOOOD!!! No racist rapist in his background. They lie he doesn’t honor the constitution. Get a clue, he is a constitutional lawyer. He knows it better than you, I bet. They still lie about his birth place, Hawaii. They take the word of an alien over his and would bow to Russia because they look like you. Caused a rift in America?? Joke, right? I am a 66 year old black woman and the only rift he created was by winning. He couldn’t even tell children to stay in school before bigots trotted their little imps out of school. OOOOOHHHHH the bad black man will tell you to stay, that’s socialistic. I have a 9 year old granddaughter. Out going. Brilliant. She and her sisters love the Disney Princesses. Then, she stopped wearing her gowns. Reading the books. Walking out of the room when shown. She was only 4 years old when this happened. We could not figure out why. If you put one of the outfits on her she covered it and cried. It took a year to find out why. We were watching A Raisin in the Sun with Felicia Rashad. We overheard her tell her sister, see the pretty brown lady. She is a pretty brown lady like us and mommy and auntie and grandma. We do not like or speak to the nasty people. They do not like the brown people. They do not like the brown president and his brown family. They make ugly pictures and say ugly things because we are brown. She STILL remembers. Where before she would hold conversations to astounded white people in public, she now looks right through them. She has been published and has aced all the tests. She scored over 800 on a reading test in kdg which she would not take until the 1st grade and a good score is 360. Her teacher just wanted to test her because she read and comprehended so well. She tested on a 6/7th grade level at that time. YOU have taught her well. YOU taught me in the 6th grade when I was called the ‘n’ word by a teacher. Yet, unlike Dr. Carson, I do not require your approval. I have my degree, as does my 4 sisters, two of whom have masters. Our children 5/7 have degrees(two sons) and #6 this spring and her sister in two years. They are third generation college graduates, too and my mom’s first cousin was on Johnson’s legal staff. I can list every time one of you enlightened our children on how inferior most of you think we are in a family that has NEVER preached intolerance to or about anyone, including, believe it or not, gays.

          4. mike May 13, 2015

            No, no lying here on my part.
            It is all about Politics not race. You can believe what you want but he will go down in history as another Carter. He lacks leadership, lacks honesty, quite frankly he lacks the trustworthiness necessary to lead this great nation.
            Lets take the Iran interim agreement, his own party voted against him. and demands they see the final agreement. He was willing to shred the constitution, when every one else knew the Senate must be included.
            Even the majority of Arab leaders are rebuking him on this Iran deal and refuse to meet with him.

          5. pisces63 May 13, 2015

            Exactly. They voted against him and demanded senate approval. No white president needed that. Not even Nixon when he went to China and sold our debt to them. The President has the constitution on his side on this. This was an international agreement, not American. Congress has the right to say so on any agreement made between America and someone. They have nothing to say on an international
            agreement as being left up to the president per the constitution. They made this demand because he is black and
            as for Saudi Arabia and others not liking this, really? My point exactly, you listen to aliens but not the black man. Saudi Arabia has backed more terrorism than is known to man. THEY funded Osama Bin Laden and he WAS a Saudi. He is trying to broker some semblance of peace with Iran and to limit or try to stop their nuclear weapons operations short of bombing them. merica opened this keg of worms in 1956 when they over threw a democratically elected leader because they wanted her oil and installed the murderous Shahs. Then they offered sanction to him when he fled during their revolution which led to the
            hostages taken. As usual, this black man is trying to undo the mess the white men made. The financial downfall. White
            greed. EVERY former secretary of state under all other presidents, republican and democratic, agrees with this
            plan. He is a leader when he is allowed to lead. They do not want a black man to lead. Mitch McConnell said it, they
            would not allow him to succeed in anything he wants to do. NO other speakers, as democrats or republicans, ever said that on day one after the opposition won the election and I have watched since Kennedy. They never said I want my country back. It took almost his whole first term before, even the media, addressed him as president Obama. So tell it to the marines, my dad was in the Navy during WWII and still had to sit in the back of the bus when he got home.

          6. mike May 13, 2015

            Your lack of knowledge is almost breathtaking. No, the Iran negotiation is a treaty, plain and simple. Obama won’t say it because he would have to go through the Senate and after the Senate voted 98-1 to see the final treaty/deal did he relent. You seem to forget he can’t release the sanctions imposed by Congress, only Congress can do that. Biden in 2002 demanded from Bush 43 that he had to go through the Senate when Bush was negotiating with the Russians over arms control agreement. So there goes one of your racist arguments.
            So in your eyes anyone that doesn’t like Obama’s policies or positions, from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, to the republican party is because of race, Right!!! How ignorant on your part and quite frankly dishonest. You seemed to forget what he said about Iran. He “would stop production”, he didn’t. Full access to all facilities(nuclear) they won’t.
            You really are a racist. So sad, but not surprising!!!

          7. Aaron_of_Portsmouth May 14, 2015

            Mike, your foaming at the mouth is splattering the internet and our screens with your uniquely noisome spittle.

          8. pisces63 May 13, 2015

            Oh, I am and was a staunch Voinovich democrat. Any position he ran for, I voted for him except for councilman. I was not in his ward, here, in Cleveland.

        2. porter May 14, 2015

          Why did he go if she was a friend as he stated .A friend would have understood if he couldn’t attended the party . Correct me if I’M wrong but didn’t he say it was a dinner party . {hint :dinner party to most of us that means meat,} Just saying

    2. Allan Richardson May 12, 2015

      I’m sure Eric Cantor has attended such an event in the past, and have not heard of such a “scandal” regarding his declining to eat pork. I’m sure all he had to say was “the way my people read the Bible, we are not supposed to have pork.” End of story. If a politician cannot eat pork because of his religion, surely another cannot eat it because of his “personal medical” conditions.

      Not that I would ever have voted for such a hypocrite as “Doctor” Carson anyway. He advocates policies based upon blatantly disproven science, and also advocates policies which force other doctors to violate their Hippocratic Oath by not using all available means to save women’s lives.

  5. tomtype May 12, 2015

    Maybe the republicans can learn that certain personal idiosincracies, personal preferences, likes and dislikes have little to do with virtue, competency, or beliefs. It would be an important lesson for us all.

    1. Carolyn1520 May 12, 2015

      Maybe the republicans can learn ….

      1. pisces63 May 13, 2015

        It’s actually called oxymoron. 🙂

  6. Carolyn1520 May 12, 2015

    Who cares?
    This guy will have his 15 minutes of fame and fade away like the rest of the loonies who have joined the parade on the right during past election cycles. Like Palin, he’ll emerge for some mouth dumps occasionally and someone will think that’s newsworthy also.

  7. elw May 12, 2015

    So in other words he is a “pretender” when he wants something from you.

  8. Aaron_of_Portsmouth May 14, 2015

    Oh, Bennie boy—what new mess has caught up with you this time?
    Lord, help us from the clowns that keep emerging from the tiny “I wanna be seen and heard” cab in the middle of the circus ring.

  9. porter May 14, 2015

    Thanks to MY GOD, that he’s a republican

  10. Nikato Muirhead May 28, 2015

    He was honest about it and his justification and method were quite biblical. It would have been an offense to not at least try to eat.

  11. Eliot W. Collins September 23, 2015

    I was disappointed that Dr. Carson ate some turkey or chicken “out of consideration”. He could have just said, “No thanks, I don’t care for poultry”.


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