Dr. Carson Falls Among Bad Companions

I usually take glee in the antics of every new candidate added to the GOP clown car, but today’s announcement in Detroit just makes me cringe. Dr. Carson is a genuinely gifted pediatric neurosurgeon, and his story has been an inspiration to a great many young people — “a Black man who became known for his intellect, not for telling jokes or shooting basketballs.” It’s not that he doesn’t “deserve” to run, or to be considered as a respectable candidate; it’s just that I can’t understand why the game is worth the candle to him. It’s not a career step up (insert old Pearly Gates joke ‘on the weekends, God entertains himself up by pretending he’s a neurosurgeon’), he doesn’t need the money or the social validation, he doesn’t have to prove himself against a family legacy of wealth and power. He doesn’t even have a book to sell — if anything, this campaign has already damaged his public standing:

Some black pastors who were Carson’s biggest promoters have stopped recommending his book. Members of minority medical organizations that long boasted of their affiliations with him say he is called an “embarrassment” on private online discussion groups.

“Has he lost his sense of who he is?” said the Rev. Jamal Bryant, a prominent black pastor in Baltimore, where Carson lived for decades when he was director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “He does not see he is the next Herman Cain.”…

Time calls him “The GOP’s Accidental Candidate for President“:

… Candidates often profess ambivalence about seeking the presidency as a way to mask their ambition. It seems reasonable to take Carson at his word.

Running for office, Carson told TIME early last year, “has never been something that I have a desire to do.” In the months since, he’s been repeating this disclaimer to anyone who asks, even as he crept closer and closer to jumping in. “It continues to be something that I don’t want to do,” he told Newsmax last spring. Asked a few weeks back how he’d feel if his campaign failed, Carson told the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Actually, I would say ‘Whew!’, because it’s not something I ever really wanted to do, and the only reason I’d consider it is because there’s so many people across the nation clamoring for me to do it.”

The most striking thing about Carson’s candidacy is the sense that he is an accidental candidate, a man living out someone else’s fantasy… A few months after the prayer breakfast, John Philip Sousa IV—the great-grandson of the composer—asked the veteran GOP fundraiser Bruce Eberle to test Carson’s support among conservative donors. The first solicitation for Carson was sent out Aug. 16. It quickly became clear the group had a direct-mail superstar on their hands. During the 2014 cycle, the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee netted more than $13.5 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics—more than Ready for Hillary raked in from Clinton supporters. It paid out healthy sums to staffers in the process….

As Buzzfeed‘s Rosie Gray reported last year, “The Ben Carson Super PAC Is Pretty Lucrative If You’re Running It“:

…[T]he National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee is spending as much as it’s taking in: $10,757,609, to be exact, according to Federal Election Commission data. The money is mostly being spent on fundraising efforts and for a digital campaign that the group’s campaign director told BuzzFeed News is modeled on the vaunted Obama operation. It’s also providing a salary for Vernon Robinson, the campaign director, who has made nearly $236,000 from his work so far for the PAC, according to FEC filings…

John Philip Sousa IV, the PAC’s chairman and a descendant of the composer John Philip Sousa, said he was fine with the amount of money Robinson is making from the PAC. Sousa himself has made close to $100,000 from it so far…

Sousa, who has questioned where Obama was born and was behind the Americans for Sheriff Joe super PAC that supported anti-immigration Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has employed other conservative activists in the fight to get Carson in the race, including Allen Brandstater, who is doing advertising work, and Bill Saracino, who is the western regional director…

The campaign has also spent $250,000 on advertising work from conservative consultant Rebecca Hagelin, who Sousa says bought airtime for the PAC on Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh’s shows…

Back in Feburary Mother Jones had a profile on Vernon Robinson, a notorious, perennial candidate with a history of rabid anti-immigrant rhetoric:

… An African-American, ex-Air Force officer from North Carolina, Robinson has repeatedly run unsuccessful campaigns for Congress. He calls himself “the black Jesse Helms“…His congressional campaign ads—one of which characterized undocumented immigrants as flag-burners and sex offenders—are so out-there that political science professors use them to illustrate mudslinging at its dirtiest… But win or (almost always) lose, the common thread in his political career has been remarkable fundraising success, with a big chunk of the proceeds Robinson has raised flowing to a small camp of conservative fundraisers, and sometimes, himself…

The practice of spending money to raise money is nothing new, but Robinson has been so reliant on this tactic that some political observers wonder whether his intention is to do much more than draw in donations. “Obviously, his great skill was in pushing the right buttons to raise money,” says Steven Greene, a state politics expert at North Carolina State University. Greene says Robinson was a “strategic loser”—so extreme in his positions that he’d never have a serious shot at office, but an appealing target for the fundraising dollars of ideologues…

… Robinson’s reaction, when asked about his high salary, was candid: “People get paid to do politics,” he said.

Seems like Dr. Carson may just have fallen for the hype machine behind the Wingnut Wurlitzer:

Carson, 63, burst onto the political scene in 2013 when — addressing the typically nonpartisan National Prayer Breakfast — he spoke about the dangers of political correctness, put forward the idea of a flat tax, and criticized President Obama’s health-care law. What made it stand out: He did it right beside a steely-faced Obama.

That week, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial titled “Ben Carson for President.” He made the rounds on Fox News, where at one point Sean Hannity told Carson that he would vote for him “in a heartbeat.” By August of that year, there was a “National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee.”…

As a cherry on the narrative sundae, just before his big annoucement, Dr. Carson found out that his beloved mother “’I grew up to who I became because I had my mother, Carson said at the Detroit Music Hall, where he had come to watch a rehearsal of his announcement day festivities” — is dying, after years of suffering from Alzheimer’s. I know from experience that people do crazy, uncharacteristic things when they’re grieving, so perhaps Dr. Carson’s quixotic campaign is partially a reaction to her long sad decline.






89 replies
  1. 1
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    John Philip Sousa IV, the PAC’s chairman and a descendant of the composer John Philip Sousa,

    What a coincidence. Same name and everything.

  2. 2
    Hal says:

    Carson is such a disappointment. All that success and intelligence and still at the end of the day he can’t help but seek the approval of a certain section of white America.

  3. 3
    sharl says:

    Not that I’d vote for him anyway, but the fact he’s never used a Demon Sheep in a political campaign rules him right out for me.

    I wonder if Carly could win over some of Christie’s supporters by yelling at a public school teacher while the cameras were rolling? Makes you think…

    Oooh, better yet, get someone dressed as a Demon Sheep to yell at a public school teacher. That kind of edgy, out-of-the-box campaigning would certainly get MY attention.

    To audition people who want to be the Demon Sheep, they should have them read for the role. I’m thinking something like

    My name is Freddie Kruger, and I live in a vaaaan down by the river!

    Whoever shouts this in the loudest and creepiest fashion should get the gig.

    Free advice there Carly; suggest you jump on it before one of your competitors does.

  4. 4

    Can we call this an open thread, since Carson doesn’t really deserve this much coverage?

    I’m almost there. $290 to go with 14 days to do it. Once it reaches $8,000, I post the stretch goal of $10,000 to hopefully afford a print edition.

  5. 5
    Amir Khalid says:

    Walmart has denied any involvement in the, um, alleged federal military takeover of Texas. Which Chuck Norris insists is a perfectly possible thing.

    Ah, Chuck Norris. Take away his aura of awesomeness, and all that’s left is a silly old man.

  6. 6
    Mary G says:

    Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you have any sense.

  7. 7
    David Koch says:

    You don’t see blacks saying, “we need to vote for Ben Carson because he’s black”, you don’t see gays saying “we need to vote for Lindsey Graham because he’s gay”, yet you see women saying “we need to for vote for a woman because she’s a woman”.

    Funny that.

  8. 8
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Mary G:
    Maybe Dr Carson feels his awesomeness is insufficiently challenged by what he’s doing now, and he needs to aim higher to achieve his True Potential. Or, to put it more kindly, he’s at that point in life where he’s wondering: “Okay, I’ve arrived. So now, where do I go?”

  9. 9
    jrockoford says:

    I do not get it.

    If he’s so intelligent how come he is a creationist, a homophobe and so benighted that he thinks Obamacare is the “worst thing to have happened in this nation since slavery” and Obama is a “psychopath.”

    He may just be clever but nuts. In any case, I’d never allow a surgeon who doesn’t accept Evolution to treat a cuticle. His mechanical skills may be solid but you can’t be both anti science and practice competently in a scientific field. The Guardian has a story claiming he may not have been a careful surgeon after all.

  10. 10
    Jay C says:

    I’ve always been somewhat amazed at Dr. Ben Carson: obviously highly intelligent and talented, yet, when he turned his attention to the political sphere, seems to have instantly turned into a sloganeering simpleton. And also, apparently, the stooge for a bunch of sophisticated political grifters, who are probably going to raise millions off his name, and most likely leave him holding the bag when he loses. For which he will blame Obama or liberals, of course….

  11. 11
    Zinsky says:

    Why wouldn’t wealthy people be in favor of a “flat tax”. Help me pay less, while you pay more! Makes perfect sense to me. I wonder why the wealthy never advocate for a flat Social Security tax? Hmmm….

  12. 12
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @David Koch: It’s because they vote for white male Christian men because they’re white male Christian men. They therefor assume somebody is voting for a black or a women (or Asian or Hispanic or…) because somebody is black or a woman or….

    Anne:

    I know from experience that people do crazy, uncharacteristic things when they’re grieving, so perhaps Dr. Carson’s quixotic campaign is partially a reaction to her long sad decline.

    That is too generous to a fault. When my father was suffering the long sad decline, I didn’t even feel the need to run for dog catcher. This is about getting his Texas sized ego stroked, nothing else.

    Then again, maybe it was his mother stroking that ego all those years?

  13. 13

    @Amir Khalid:

    Ah, Chuck Norris. Take away his aura of awesomeness, and all that’s left is a silly old man.

    And he was totally robbed at the Oscars.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    @Zinsky

    Don’t remember Steve Forbes’ ill-starred campaign?

  15. 15
    Schlemazel says:

    Allen Brandstater, who is doing advertising work,

    Seriously? “BRAND STARTER” is doing the ad work? Thats the only funny bit in this whole dreadful affair.

  16. 16
    Baud says:

    His nomination would be “liberals are the real racists” personified. That may be enough to put him over the top.

  17. 17
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Amir Khalid: Norris: we must question, verify and vet everyone and everything

    Does he mean to include himself; probably not but I think that’s a fine sentiment if applied to everything.

    (And yes, he’s a silly old man, he was also a silly young man.)

  18. 18
    Schlemazel says:

    @Baud:
    Not gonna be a problem. The conversation at the RNC would be exactly like the one the Randly and Morty Duke had in the bathroom when they thought they were alone.
    Randolph Duke: [Valentine overhears the Dukes talking in the bathroom] Pay up, Mortimer. I’ve won the bet.
    Mortimer Duke: Here, one dollar.
    Randolph Duke: [chuckling] We took a perfectly useless psychopath like Valentine, and turned him into a successful executive. And during the same time, we turned an honest, hard-working man into a violently, deranged, would-be killer!
    [laughs]
    Randolph Duke: Now, what are we going to do about taking Winthorpe back and returning Valentine to the ghetto?
    Mortimer Duke: I don’t want Winthorpe back, after what he’s done.
    Randolph Duke: You mean, keep *Valentine* on as managing director?
    Mortimer Duke: Do you really believe I would have a *nigger* run our family business, Randolph?
    Mortimer Duke: [Valentine’s eyes widen with outrage] Of course not. Neither would I.

  19. 19
    ThresherK says:

    @Jay C: He got in the short line. What else could it be?

  20. 20
    msdc says:

    The post is admirably charitable, but this bit is too charitable by far:

    It’s not that he doesn’t “deserve” to run, or to be considered as a respectable candidate

    Yes, why wouldn’t we consider a neurosurgeon who has never even run for (much less held) political office as a respectable candidate for the most important office in the world?

  21. 21
    raven says:

    @Amir Khalid: I’ve always thought that the death of Chuck’s brother, Wieland, in a particularly stupid battle in Vietnam forever scarred him. I don’t like him but I can see the trajectory.

  22. 22
    Baud says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Walmart has denied any involvement in the, um, alleged federal military takeover of Texas.

    Just what I’d expect someone who was involved to say.

  23. 23
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Schlemazel: Baggage handler #2 made that movie.

  24. 24
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Baud: Yes, but did they also deny the existence of the tunnels between their stores?

  25. 25

    “It continues to be something that I don’t want to do,”

    Then stop doing it. Otherwise, pants on fire.

    It’s also providing a salary for Vernon Robinson, the campaign director, who has made nearly $236,000 …

    Sousa himself has made close to $100,000 from it so far…

    Sousa, who has questioned where Obama was born and was behind the Americans for Sheriff Joe super PAC that supported anti-immigration Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has employed other conservative activists in the fight to get Carson in the race, including Allen Brandstater, who is doing advertising work, and Bill Saracino, who is the western regional director…

    The campaign has also spent $250,000 on advertising work from conservative consultant Rebecca Hagelin, who Sousa says bought airtime for the PAC on Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh’s shows…

    If you can’t spot the mark at the table, the mark is you.

  26. 26
    dmsilev says:

    He calls himself “the black Jesse Helms“

    He hates himself?

  27. 27
    MattF says:

    I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Carson. He blames all those other people who just keep insisting, despite his humble disavowals, that he become a candidate. At best, this is a woeful combination of being a sucker for flattery and self-deception.

  28. 28
    Woodrowfan says:

    and he has more than a few malpractice suits in his past. The ones I read about seemed to be caused by a cocky carelessness “I am awesome so I don’t need to do my homework before this operation.”

  29. 29
    raven says:

    @Woodrowfan: Name a surgeon who doesn’t.

  30. 30
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @raven: Beat me to it.

  31. 31
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Heh:

    A popular website for the former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina went live on Monday morning, as she announced her candidacy for president.

    Except it wasn’t a campaign site at all.

    CarlyFiorina.org is not much more than a listicle of frowny emoticons – one for every employee laid off during Fiorina’s six-year tenure at HP. (You have to scroll down quite a ways to find the final tally: 30,000.)

  32. 32
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    Jeb Bush worries me.

    Ted Cruz worries me.

    Huckabee, Rubio, Santorum and the other mean stupid ugly lunatics from the GOP asylum running for president worry me because there’s always a possibility, no matter how remote or unlikely, that they might win.

    Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush won twice, after all. And any compliant sock puppet is guaranteed a least 46% of the vote jus as long as there’s a “R” next to his name.

    Except for Dr. Ben Carson. His quixotic and doomed presidential campaign is a sick joke.

    Why?

    Because in spite of his intelligence and his impressive hisory as a neurosurgeon and his disgusting willingness to be a useful tool for whatever atrocities the Republican pary will command him to do, Dr. Carson will never be President of he Unied States.

    Becaause to all of the morans who obediently vote for the Republicans, Dr. Ben Carson is still a nigger.

    As I said, Carson a sick joke, and he’s the punchline.

  33. 33
    brantl says:

    He doesn’t even have a book to sell — if anything, this campaign has already damaged his public standing:

    He’s running as a black Rethuglican. This is a reason for most people (especially black people, to doubt your sanity. Self-hate is always an indicator of insanity.

  34. 34
    brantl says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Ah, Chuck Norris. Take away his aura of awesomeness, and all that’s left is a silly old man.

    What awesomeness? He used to injure his stunt people, frequently.

  35. 35
    Chyron HR says:

    “Once we nominate Herman Cain Ben Carson, the Democrats will be doomed!”

  36. 36
    brantl says:

    @raven: Lots of them.

  37. 37
    Erehwon says:

    @The Thin Black Duke:
    But don’t you remember that “… our blacks are so much better than their blacks …”

  38. 38
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @Amir Khalid: Idiocracy is beginning to look more and more like a documentary

  39. 39
  40. 40
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Good news:

    Mark Twain stories, 150 years old, uncovered by Berkeley scholars

    Cache shows Twain working at a San Francisco newspaper as a young man
    Berkeley archivists describe stash ‘like opening up a big box of candy’

  41. 41
    henqiguai says:

    @Mary G (#6):

    Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you have any sense.

    Hmm, idiot savant, perhaps?

  42. 42
    Betty says:

    I have to report that I have at least 3 facebook “friends” who are delighted about Dr. Carson’s decision. He does have his audience – same people who were upset at the Baltimore protests. I think there’s a connection- a deeply conservative Black man strongly criticizing the Black community.

  43. 43
    debbie says:

    I think the RNC’s hopes of fewer, “saner,” debates is dead. No way will they be able to exclude all of the fringe candidates.

  44. 44
    MattF says:

    @debbie: Yeah, Repubs seem to take “Anyone can be President” quite literally. And there’s a feeling that the Establishment candidates are losers, so why not give it a go?

  45. 45
    Germy Shoemangler says:

    @jrockoford:

    The Guardian has a story claiming he may not have been a careful surgeon after all.

    And I’ve been wondering about that. Not just about Carson. Whenever the GOP pukes up a surgeon or an eye doctor, everyone assumes they’re brilliant, talented and supremely competent. But then if you dig a bit deeper, you learn that Rand is self-certified.

    Is there really proof that Carson and Rand are brilliant physicians? Or are they just blowhards with medical degrees? I’ve certainly encountered a few in my life. The young doctor who treated my mom during her final illness. Arrogant, “smart” but the nurses whispered that they didn’t trust him. The pediatrician who delivered my son and broke his collar bone.

  46. 46
    brettvk says:

    So this is what Citizens United leads to — a permanent infrastructure of political fundraising that slaps a (barely) plausible face on its ads, pushes all the lizard-brain buttons, and reaps millions in unaccountable cash. It’s televangelism without having to spend on videocams or a big church, but with the same advantage of selling absolutely nothing for lots and lots of money. Maybe when the Fox generation dies out it’ll be less lucrative; the olds of the future will have less SS and no pensions to waste on this dreck.

  47. 47
    MattF says:

    @Germy Shoemangler: I think a ‘good’ doctor has an unusual combination of talents– technical ability, medical knowledge, and ‘doctorness’, whatever that is. You can often find two out of three, but all three is rare.

  48. 48
    Germy Shoemangler says:

    @MattF: I agree. I’ve seen some good ones, I’ve seen a few that weren’t that great.

    I keep reading here about Carson’s “brilliance” as a doctor, and his supporters use that as evidence of how great he is and how great he’d be as president.

    I’ve seen Rand supporters tout his doctoring skills as proof of his competence.

    Is there any proof these men are above average physicians? Because that’s the image that’s being put out there.

  49. 49
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Germy Shoemangler: Medically, the two are not in the same class. Probably not even the same continent.

  50. 50
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    @Germy Shoemangler: Who cares? How does “being a good doctor” equate with “being a good President”?

  51. 51
    Chris says:

    @jrockoford:

    I know little about Carson, but I think I agree with you.

    @The Thin Black Duke:

    Because in spite of his intelligence and his impressive hisory as a neurosurgeon and his disgusting willingness to be a useful tool for whatever atrocities the Republican pary will command him to do, Dr. Carson will never be President of he Unied States.

    Becaause to all of the morans who obediently vote for the Republicans, Dr. Ben Carson is still a nigger.

    As I said, Carson a sick joke, and he’s the punchline.

    Absolutely this.

    The Herman Cain campaign should dispel all doubts otherwise. He got his month in the sun as the collective Republican Party’s Black Best Friend. Then he dared to forget his place by objecting to the use of the N-word in Rick Perry’s ranch; and then it turned out that he might have not only sexually harassed black women (which is all in good fun) but cheated on his wife with a white woman; and all of a sudden, out he went.

    The Republican Party will never vote for a black president. Period. This is the same party that’s been in utter derangement mode since Obama’s election. It’s the same party one of whose main leaders eulogized Strom Thurmond by saying that if only he’d been followed when he ran in 1948, we wouldn’t have “all these problems.” It’s the same party that rejected John McCain in 2000 at least partly based on the Bush campaign’s rumors that he’d fathered an “illegitimate black child.” Never happen.

  52. 52
    Kay (not the front-pager) says:

    @David Koch:

    yet you see women saying “we need to for vote for a woman because she’s a woman”

    What women? I’ve heard exactly zero women saying anything even close to that. Sure, we may be pleased that a woman has a possibility to finally become a president we can support, just as members of the other “out-groups” you mention would be pleased to be able to support a member of their group. But do you really think 96% of African American voters would vote for Ben Carson as the first African American president? Do you think 96% of women would vote for Carly Fiorina because she’s a woman? Sheesh, do you even think 96% of women would vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman? Or even 75%?

  53. 53
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    What do you get when you cross Simon Pegg with Robin Williams and flavor liberally with Monty Python?

    Absolutely Anything

    I fear it might be too much of a good thing, but I’m still excited.

  54. 54
    Kay (not the front-pager) says:

    @debbie: It has gotten so that being a Republican candidate is, ipso facto, to be a fringe candidate.

  55. 55
    low-tech cyclist says:

    just before his big annoucement, Dr. Carson found out that his beloved mother…is dying, after years of suffering from Alzheimer’s.

    You know, there’s a cause where a major conservative celeb like Ben Carson could really do some good. We already have more than enough elderly people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of senior dementia to overload our nursing homes – and that’s gonna get worse real fast when the Baby Boom generation gets into its 80s in the late 2020s.

    It’s going to be a national public health problem unless we act fast, and so far, we aren’t.

    Here’s a guy who could really lean on conservative Congresscritters to increase government funding of Alzheimer’s and dementia research, and has an undoubtedly powerful personal story to tell about it. But instead, he’s becoming this cycle’s Herman Cain.

    What a waste.

  56. 56
    Germy Shoemangler says:

    @The Thin Black Duke: Who cares? How does “being a good doctor” equate with “being a good President”?

    It doesn’t. Just like being a CEO doesn’t either.

    But Rand and Carson supporters push that myth of the brilliant physician who will cure our country’s ills.

    The impression I get is that the GOP (while keeping the same policies of tax cuts for the wealthy, gutting regulation, and shrinking government) is saying “You like a black president? OK, here’s a black guy. Oh! You want a lady president? Well look here, we got a lady, too. Hispanic? No problemo.”

  57. 57
    Barry says:

    @Jay C: “I’ve always been somewhat amazed at Dr. Ben Carson: obviously highly intelligent and talented, yet, when he turned his attention to the political sphere, seems to have instantly turned into a sloganeering simpleton. ”

    Think of somebody becoming one of the best martial artists in the world in your art. They spent 16 hrs/day learning and practicing from their mid-teens through their mid-forties.

    You wouldn’t be surprised if they really didn’t know jack about the world.

    We think of surgeons as learned persons, rather than incredibly intensively trained technicians.

  58. 58
    ThresherK says:

    @Germy Shoemangler: The right saw Obama and their takeaway is “We could nominate one of them”.

    Totally missing what PBO brought to the table.

  59. 59
    gelfling545 says:

    @David Koch: You certainly did not see that where Sarah Palin was concerned.

  60. 60
    Kay says:

    @brettvk:

    So this is what Citizens United leads to — a permanent infrastructure of political fundraising that slaps a (barely) plausible face on its ads, pushes all the lizard-brain buttons, and reaps millions in unaccountable cash.

    It’s an industry and it gets bigger every year. I think we spend way too much time on the money coming in and too little on where it goes. Every time you read about a huge donation what you’re really talking about is thousands of people getting paid. Every dime of that Koch money gets spent. Media companies are huge beneficiairies of Citizens, for one example. The longer it goes on the more there will be an entrenched industry that is wholly reliant on donations coming in.

  61. 61
    lowercase steve says:

    I am amazed at how compartmentalized intelligence and insight can be. He may be a brilliant neurosurgeon but he has never said anything even remotely insightful or intelligent in his political and economic proclamations/diagnoses. In fact, he sounds downright uneducated.

  62. 62
    El Caganer says:

    He’s the political version of Dr. Oz.

  63. 63
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    @El Caganer: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

  64. 64
    dr. luba says:

    @Germy Shoemangler:

    The pediatrician who delivered my son and broke his collar bone.

    There’s your problem. Should have had an obstetrician doing the delivery.

    That being said, a very big baby or a shoulder dystocia, or a tight birth canal can result in the sort of birth trauma that causes a clavicle fracture. They heal well, luckily, and leave no long term sequelae. Stuff happens. I’d rather have a baby with a fractured clavicle than one with an entrapped head or Erb’s palsy.

    I’ve been lucky, haven’t seen this in any of the babies I’ve delivered…..yet.

  65. 65
    gelfling545 says:

    @Barry:

    incredibly intensively trained technicians

    I’ve been pondering this lately as I have unfortunately had numerous opportunities to use the varied services of the medical community. It started with me enrolling as a patient at the local dental school. It gave me an opportunity to view the unique skill set necessary for a Dentist, Oral Surgeon, etc. i.e. academic ability within certain parameters, manual dexterity & upper body strength. Other medical specialties have different skills that are related to few other professions. Even being at the top of one medical specialty doesn’t necessarily transfer to another medical discipline, much less to areas outside one’s field.

  66. 66
    J R in WV says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    A friend of ours named their dog Chuck Norris, which makes it easy to remember Andy’s and Ally’s dog’s name. It weighs in at about 3 pounds, after a big dinner! Very nice guy, polite to everyone, friendly too.

    The dog, not the human…

    Jeeze louise! Can’t your guys take a joke at all?

  67. 67

    I think Dr. Carson is suffering from the Clint Eastwood malady. He thinks if that young whipper snapper Obama can become President, so can he. After all he was beloved by the black community when the President was a nobody. Me thinks, he is jealous and has lost perspective because of it.

    See also, Cornell West.

  68. 68
    kc says:

    As you noted, neurosurgeons already have huge egos, and the GOP has flattered and feted Carson so much that he probably by now thinks only he can save the country. That’s my guess.

  69. 69

    he doesn’t need the money or the social validation

    Ego, even more than greed, does not have limits and does not need a logical reason. John Schnatter, whose get-rich-then-turn-into-a-flaming-asshole-betraying-everything-he-originally-stood-for story is a beautiful match for Carson’s, shows that clearly. He spends millions on decorating his favorite stores, which achieves no business purpose but making him feel awesome. He got rich treating his workers well, and has ample personal experience to prove it’s better practice. Now that he doesn’t need the money, he just loves the feeling of being a godlike Galtian genius he gets from shitting on them.

    Seems like Dr. Carson may just have fallen for the hype machine behind the Wingnut Wurlitzer:

    He set himself up for that hype. This is what he wanted, to be ‘the good nigger’ and complain about how all the others are lazy and would be successful neurosurgeons if only they were as awesome as him.

    @brettvk:

    So this is what Citizens United leads to

    Thank goodness, yes. We’d be in serious trouble if it didn’t, but encouraging lunatic billionaires to pour endless, uncounted money into unmarked boxes in companies that don’t have to show how they’re spending it and are forbidden to work with the only people who can watch over their shoulder… well, can you say ‘grifter paradise?’ It contains the seeds of its own destruction.

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Forget Carson. This news is amazing and wonderful and I can’t wait to read them. I’ve read a couple of his editorials, and they are hilarious.

  70. 70
    Ruckus says:

    @lowercase steve:
    This is what I was trying to say the other day. Some can focus and learn specific things that many others have no possibility to do. And be brilliant at that thing. But intelligent? They can so totally suck at the rest of the world, even simple things that one should wonder how they ever got to be considered intelligent. They are gifted, they are not necessarily intelligent.

  71. 71
    Emma says:

    He could be the second coming of Christ as a surgeon but that doesn’t qualify him to be President. In fact, if anything, it disqualifies him. Surgeons are gods in their own little kingdom, and they have little idea of the muck you must be willing to wade into as President; all the compromising with people you ‘d rather use for shishkebab, all the smiling at foreign leaders that are dirtier than a pig in a wallow, all that stuff, surgeons don’t have to do that. They issue orders and people jump.

    NOT president material.

  72. 72
    Tenar Darell says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Nom, nom, nom.

    That is very cool, really!

  73. 73
    hoodie says:

    @Barry:

    We think of surgeons as learned persons, rather than incredibly intensively trained technicians.

    My mom worked with surgeons for forty years and that was her general impression. She also felt that of all docs, who tend to be highly confident as a group, surgeons had the greatest tendency to be unaware of their incompetence outside their field. She said that the most intellectually adept docs tended to be internal medicine specialists.

  74. 74
    Cacti says:

    Ben Carson’s political story is not unusual at all.

    Racial or ethnic minority, who grew up in humble circumstances and used public assistance programs to escape a life of poverty…and now wants to pull the ladder up behind him after making it to the top.

  75. 75
    jonas says:

    @low-tech cyclist: j

    ust before his big annoucement, Dr. Carson found out that his beloved mother…is dying, after years of suffering from Alzheimer’s.

    I wonder if he’s paying for her care out of pocket — like a good, ruggedly individual wealthy conservative ought to — or letting the socialist Medicaid program and taxpayers pick up the tab.

  76. 76
    Chris says:

    @lowercase steve:

    I am amazed at how compartmentalized intelligence and insight can be. He may be a brilliant neurosurgeon but he has never said anything even remotely insightful or intelligent in his political and economic proclamations/diagnoses. In fact, he sounds downright uneducated.

    Thus confirming what I’ve thought for a long time, that the only really useful marker of intelligence is whether someone is smart enough to know what they don’t know.

    All of us are ignorant about the vast majority of things – there’s just too much information in the world. That’s why we specialize and have some of us go into medicine, some of us become car mechanics, some of us become astronomers, whatever. There’s no shame in being ignorant, but once you refuse to acknowledge it and act accordingly, then you’re an idiot.

  77. 77
    Elie says:

    As a surgeon — and a neurosurgeon specifically, Carson was enculturated to a plantation like, hierarchical mindframe. Docs basically do what they want to do and are difficult to manage to work together. Ask any hospital administrator. Add to it, during their student and residencies, they are treated with episodic, and sometimes frivolous, cruelty by their superiors. This world view, that where the elite do what they want and that you are the elite, fits exactly with the Republican and fascist ethos. Since retiring, he definitely has no outlet for that in his day to day life. He is too young to hit the links.. (by the way, why did he retire and how old is he?) My guess is that he thinks he is the answer. The problem for him is that there is no question that fits what he can answer.. He is floundering around — a big, unhappy fish without a pond to dominate or call home…

  78. 78
    karen marie says:

    @David Koch: That’s why Hillary is about to finish her second term. Oh, wait, no, that’s right, she lost in 2008. Silly me. Being a woman, I am not very smart.

  79. 79
    Elie says:

    @Elie:

    I found out he is 64 years old… not THAT young but young enough to have time on his hands and no similar outlet. His wikepedia says that he had problems with anger as a boy, almost killing a friend over a minor incident…. said that he started reading the bible and had no future incidents of violence. He was clearly a gifted surgeon and there is nothing that heroic out here in the world that he can bring his talents to. He COULD go volunteer in a service for the needy somewhere in the world… Obviously, that is not something that pulls him…

  80. 80
    Elie says:

    @Elie:

    BTW — he is a Seven Day Adventist per Wikepedia. That has a pretty strict, authoritarian culture. Also, the following quote in that piece I thought was amazingly opposite of what he is actually doing:

    Carson had said he was not a member of any political party.[28] However, he joined the Republican Party on November 4, 2014, the day the 2014 midterms took place, as “truly a pragmatic move” because he may run for president in 2016.[29] In his book America the Beautiful, he explained the decision to enter politics thusly: “I believe it is a very good idea for physicians, scientists, engineers, and others trained to make decisions based on facts and empirical data to get involved in the political arena

    (emphasis mine)

    The man is a mixed up set of contradictions and authoritarian impulses…

  81. 81
    El Caganer says:

    @karen marie: But it’s gonna be Fiorina in a landslide!

  82. 82
    Germy Shoemangler says:

    @dr. luba: There’s your problem. Should have had an obstetrician doing the delivery.

    We did. I used the wrong term in my previous comment.

    This was over twenty years ago. My wife had a group of obstetricians she liked. Two woman… and a guy. The women were great. The guy? I remember him standing outside the exam room one day having what looked to me like an anxiety attack. Then he went in to consult with my wife. My gut instinct told me there was something wrong there. I remember thinking “when the time comes, I hope HE isn’t on duty.”

    Sure enough, she went into labor late at night. Guess who shows up to deliver our son. And our son was a TINY baby, barely five pounds something.

  83. 83
    Tree With Water says:

    @Jay C: I feel much the same way about Jon Voight. How did such a fine actor become such a political ding-a-ling? It’s as if Joe Buck banked off a northeast wind, sailed on a summer breeze, returned to NYC from a place where the weather suits his soul, only to change his name to Donald Trump.

  84. 84
    Elie says:

    If we lived in other times without the access to media and sophisticated abilities to penetrate the populace with any kind of message, these people would not be the problem that they are. They make it extraordinarily difficult to lead and to manage our increasingly intertwined existence… These are truly the 1 – 2% crazy people who are still mentally organized enough to produce some sort of message and campaign. Our media gives their message exposure that in another time, would not exist and its scary… their craziness gets amplified and echoed in the many unfortunately truly crazy people who act on the delusions these people manufacture. I don’t know what this means for our country and its future —

  85. 85
    MCA1 says:

    @msdc: This. There are literally millions of talented, well-educated doctors in this country with zero political, executive, legislative, diplomatic or any other experience that would in the slightest bit qualify them for POTUS (and likely plenty of them suffer from the same god complex and misbelief that their success as a doctor has fuck-all to do with success in any other arena of life that obviously plagues Carson). The are but three things about Ben Carson that distinguish him from those other millions: (i) he’s a black Republican, (ii) he’s declared himself interested, and (iii) he’s crazy enough to loudly espouse the most feverish, cretinous lunacy peddled by the far Right. None of those things should, of course, make him someone with a platform to announce a candidacy. Which is why the fact he has a platform from which to announce a candidacy is so very sad. That a guy who’s said some of the idiotic things Carson has is treated as respectable, is pretty indicative of how much our system has deteriorated. We are all worse off for having to listen to this guy and have him taken seriously by the press for the next however many months, when he should have been relegated to the sidelines long ago.

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    opiejeanne says:

    @Tree With Water: Harry Nilsson, always with us.

  87. 87
    Germy Shoemangler says:

    @opiejeanne: I remember seeing Harry on “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir” when I was a tiny lad. He was a great songwriter, and yet he is most remembered for two cover versions: “Without You” and “Everybody’s Talkin'”

  88. 88
    Roy G. says:

    His natural pick for VP is of course, ‘Dr.’ Keith Ablow.

  89. 89
    F says:

    Carson is a sideshow. If he somehow makes it past Iowa, then we’ve already won the election.

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