A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf. And no matter how “amiable” and “personable” and “affable” Ben Carson is supposed to be, he is still a wolf.
Some find his utter cluelessness on the major issues of the day both charming and refreshing. It will be far less so if he is president of the United States.
Why even worry about this? Because he is in a virtual tie for first place with Donald Trump to be the presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 2016.
If the GOP gold standard this presidential cycle is finding outsiders who have no experience in government, Carson looks as if he is 24 karats.
He is not some pol who has wasted his time learning about domestic policy, foreign policy, economic policy or pretty much any policy. He was a successful brain surgeon, which has led some to speculate that for every brain he operated on, he gave up a small part of his own.
He is the master of the irresponsible, sometimes bigoted, statement. He “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” And should a Muslim try to become president, Carson has this warning: “You have to reject the tenets of Islam. Yes, you have to.”
Carson also has stated that had Jews in Germany been armed, they might have prevented or at least mitigated the Holocaust.
Does Carson know that Jews were only 0.75 percent of the German population in 1933, when Adolf Hitler came to power, and could not possibly have fought an armed struggle against the SA, the SS, the Wehrmacht and those civilians who became Hitler’s “willing executioners”? I doubt it. And I doubt he cares. He is not a details kind of guy. He is big-picture.
Those nine people murdered at Umpqua Community College in Oregon this month? Carson says they should have just swarmed the guy. “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” Carson said bravely. “I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'”
There is some evidence, however, that Carson would not have risked his life at all, preferring instead to risk the lives of others.
“I have had a gun held on me, when I was in a Popeyes (in Baltimore),” Carson told Karen Hunter on Sirius XM Radio recently. “Guy comes in, puts the gun in my ribs, and I just said, ‘I believe that you want the guy behind the counter.’”
Too bad all those Jews in Germany couldn’t have found a guy behind the counter.
Yet Carson is an amiable man. A personable man. An affable man.
Besides, Trump is still beating him by a few points.
Though, it should be remembered that Trump gained popularity through hateful comments. He attacks Mexicans as rapists. He attacks American POWs in Vietnam. He repeatedly attacks some women for being “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “disgusting animals.”
Boom! Wham! Zowie! Trump zooms to the top of the polls and stays there.
Here is Fox News’ Chris Wallace after interviewing Trump on Sunday. “All of us dismissed Trump early on,” Wallace said. “A summer fling, momentary amusement. As I watch that interview and I heard what he had to say about the country and about trade and about losing and just the sheer force of his personality, I am beginning to believe he could be elected president of the United States.”
So they are breaking out the Kool-Aid at Fox News. And they want us to drink it. But I think I will take a pass.
There is a reason Trump and Carson command nearly half of the Republican vote, and it has nothing to do with quiet charm or force of personality.
The Republican Party has peddled xenophobia, misogyny and willful ignorance to the public year after year. So it is not surprising that it has come up with xenophobic, misogynistic and willfully ignorant candidates. Nor is it surprising that these candidates have risen to the top.
But I don’t think the rest of America is going to follow them. I don’t think we are that kind of country.
The Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections.
They now appear determined to make it six out of seven.
Roger Simon is Politico‘s chief political columnist. His new e-book, Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America, can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to the press after speaking at the Commonwealth Club at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, California, September 8, 2015. REUTERS/Stephen Lam