Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Expanding On Last Night's Post

The Politico piece on Carson's West Point story is only slightly a hack job.  What clearly happened was that someone - maybe Westmoreland, maybe not - told Carson he could go to West Point for free, because he was such a good student.  Carson took this to mean that he was being offered a scholarship.  We see this all the time with students who get a "letter of interest" from a coach and then think they are going to Harvard.  If the story tells us anything about Carson it is that seems to have a profound indifference to things that he is indifferent about.  He never really looked into West Point, so he thinks he was being offered a scholarship, when he was only being encouraged to apply.

The pyramid story is simply another reminder of his fringe religious fundamentalism and disdain for experts.

The Wall Street Journal has a piece out today further calling into question aspects of Carson's biography. (It's behind a pay-wall, so I don't know what it says.)

All politicians embellish and obfuscate.  You shape and mold your story as needed.

But politicians typically have a career in public office to point to as a record of their achievements and philosophy.  Carson is basically running on his biography.  His message is that he is a Christian, a staunch conservative not sullied by Washington, an African-American and has a remarkable life story.  Conservatives are clearly looking for an outsider this year, and they are tired of being called racist for opposing Obama.  Carson is - to paraphrase Sterling Archer - a unicorn.

But beyond the fact that he isn't Obama and isn't Jeb!, Carson has run on his life story.  His policy pronouncements veer from the unintelligible to the inane.  He has no expertise running a large operation of any kind.  The entire rationale for his campaign is his life story.

And so it matters that his life story is perhaps less heroic than he is making it out to be.  It matters that he endorses quack medicine.  It matters that he confuses pyramids with silos.

Of course, this entire campaign might be a grift anyway, so....

UPDATE: Kevin Drum has a list that is only likely to get longer.

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