Thursday, November 5, 2015

Somebody Needs to Explain the Whole Ben Carson Thing To Me

I've been closely following presidential politics since the early 1990s and over that time I think I've generally had a pretty good grasp on why certain candidates have done better than others.

The appeal of Bill Clinton in '92 and '96? Obvious.

The folksy charm of a popular Texas governor with the last name of Bush? I got that too, even though I was firmly against everything he stood for.

John Kerry? War hero and longtime Democratic stalwart in the Senate? Got it.

President Obama? Even as a Clinton supporter in '08, there was no denying his extreme intelligence and inspirational appeal.

McCain and Romney? Sure, whatever.

Now here we are fast approaching the Iowa caucuses of 2016. The appeal of Hillary and Bernie is obvious of course. And I may not like any of the GOP career politicians running for president, but at least candidates like Rubio and Cruz make some sense as potential nominees. Hell, I can even see how the crazy conservative Bulworth antics of Trump would resonate with some.

But I just don't get the whole Ben Carson thing. It's seriously just about the weirdest shit I've ever seen in my life.

I don't get why he's one of the two clear frontrunners for the Republican nomination. I don't get why he, of all people, is doing better against Clinton in general election matchups than any other candidate. I don't get why he has three times as many Facebook followers as Hillary. I don't get his jaw-dropping fundraising numbers. I don't get how he keeps on rising in the polls even after three sluggish, unmemorable and often incoherent debate performances. And I don't get how he keeps on rising in the polls while taking an extended break from the campaign for a flippin' book tour.

Then he doesn't even bother to brush up on basic Cuba policy in time for an interview with a South Florida newspaper:
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson admitted Wednesday in an interview with The Miami Herald that he didn't know "a great deal" about a policy that allows Cubans, once they arrive, to stay in the United States.
Carson spoke to the Florida newspaper a day before he his expected to travel to South Florida on his book tour. ...
“You’re going to have to explain to me exactly what you mean by that,” Carson reportedly replied. “I have to admit that I don’t know a great deal about that, and I don’t really like to comment until I’ve had a chance to study the issue from both sides.”
And hilariously insane stuff like this that keeps rolling in:
Dr. Ben Carson on Wednesday night confirmed his belief that the pyramids in Egypt were built for grain storage by Joseph, the Biblical figure who helped the Egyptians survive famine, even though archaeologists have concluded that the pyramids were built as tombs for the pharaohs.
Which is just the tip of the crazy iceberg.

Meanwhile, not that I am actually expecting such a matchup or result next November, but a brand new poll out of reliably blue Michigan looks like this at the moment:

Oh yeah, by the way...he's a graduate of Yale and an acclaimed neurosurgeon who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

I ask this sincerely: What the hell is even happening here?!

Seriously, somebody needs to help me out...because I only have two crazy theories that might halfway make sense of all this.

One of them is that Ben Carson is the Kirk Cameron of politics. Nobody outside the evangelical circuit takes either of them seriously but they are wildly successful nonetheless.

The other one is that so many Tea Partiers have ditched the Republican label for "Independent" that it's skewing the polls uniquely in Carson's favor in general election matchups.

Beyond that unscientific straw-grasping, for the first time in an entire adult life of following politics...I am stumped about this entire situation.

Any insightful comments would be much appreciated. In the meantime, maybe I'll relax a while and watch a good movie.


  1. There's zero chance Carson wins the GOP nomination, but I don't get it either. I don't think he even wants to be president.

    1. A halfway serious person would have brushed up on Cuba policy before that interview.

  2. It's sort of amusing, though, to see the press and GOP establishment pushing Rubio while GOP primary voters keep preferring outsiders like Trump and Carson.

  3. I still think the nominee is going to be Trump. ALL the negatives have ALREADY been said about him and he's STILL doing well. BUT, Carson and Rubio have a lot of baggage to be gone over YET by the press.

    1. I also think Trump is a possibility. He's got staying power and hates to lose.

  4. I think Cruz is a dark horse possibility, too.

    1. Which I've been saying since March. Watch out!

  5. Full agreement. He is a strangest odd guy for politics. Why would he want to be President. He doesn't want change or have policies created. He only gives out sermons and words with no back bone of details. Bazaar.

  6. I totally believe that this man has a mental defect that is keeping his brain in second gear while his mouth is in fourth. He belongs in a rubber room and on strong medications.

    1. Have you noticed how he very deliberately blinks his eyes? Isn't this something that people don't usually have to think about? Yet another thing I don't get.