Monday, October 12, 2015

There's Something About Ben

"Unless," The Daily Show's Trevor Noah says (video below), "slow,languid pace, dead eyes. loves brains. Oh my God, this explains everything. Ben Carson is a zombie!" Though meant primarily in humor, that was no less insightful, no less likely, than Noah's notion "It's just shocking that such a smart man, a brain surgeon, could have this kind of perspective- rushing a gunman" or that "a body with bullet holes" is no "more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."

It's not that Carson's various commenting about firearms are so ridiculous.  He says people should charge a gunman threatening them because at least not all the individuals would be shot and killed ("after you, Dr."). When he himself was faced with a robber at a Popeyes restaurant, Carson claimed, he "directed him, he went to the cashier, the cashier gave him the money, and he ran out of the store."

It seems a little strange that a presidential candidate would voluntarily remark that he offered up someone else in his place to be possibly killed. The incident itself  has been called into question, with one blogger (or headline writer) remarking "Ben Carson should produce his long-form Popeyes receipt" (which, oddly, is funnier than anything Noah's writers could come up with).

Arguing also that Jews in Nazi Germany would have been better off armed, Carson contended “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed … I’m telling you that there is a reason that these dictatorial people take the guns first."   Carson's fantasy aside, there were at least ten major instances of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.   It took, further, powerful nations and one heck of a winter in Russia before the Nazi regime was defeated. Oh, and comparing something to Nazi Germany is never a good thing.

But Carson's bizarre statements are no less ridiculous than Marco Rubio claiming he can create a budget surplus by cutting taxes by trillions of dollars. They are less arrogant than John Ellis Bush almost casually stating that his brother kept the nation safe from terrorism. Nor are they more appalling than Carly Fiorina lying about Planned Parenthood- repeatedly- or her record at Hewlett-Packard, or imagining a hardscrabble background. (Give her enough time and Fiorina would vehemently deny she ever worked at HP.)  And then there is Donald Trump- where would we begin?

Unlike with Rubio, Bush, Fiorina, and Trump, Carson appears actually to believe what he is saying. He's probably not an actual zombie, though the odds of him being so are roughly equal to those of Carly Fiorina getting through the next GOP debate without fabrication.

Perhaps Dr. Carson simply is an evil genius, offending Jews, victims of violence, and other people in some nefarious scheme to obtain the GOP nomination.   "The key to success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made," a famous talk-show host once quipped, and maybe that's Carson's M.O.

But it's more likely that Trevor Noah is naive to believe that such an esteemed, successful individual in the highly-technical field of brain surgery could be so devoid of intellectual heft in another subject area.  Ben Carson might be the brilliant doctor we always hear he is and may have made greater contributions to mankind than the vast majority of human beings. Knowledge and understanding are not always transferrable to another field of study.

Politics, foreign affairs, economics, history, and everything else not labeled "medical science" are not medical science. And when it comes to most of those subject areas in which a president must exhibit some rudimentary knowledge and have the ability to acquire further understanding, the good doctor may be out to lunch.

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