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“It’s Part Of The Culture”: Carson’s Implosion Is A Reflection Of The Con Artistry That Has Overtaken The GOP

Ben Carson’s presidential campaign is imploding. One could argue that that’s the result of a candidate in freefall: things always get ugly when a campaign is losing ground in the polls, and staff shakeups are inevitable. But the way that Carson’s campaign has imploded is yet another window into the way the GOP has allowed itself to be run into the ground by charlatans of all kinds.

To begin with, as a politician Ben Carson himself is something of a fraud. By all accounts an eminently successful neurosurgeon, Carson parlayed his story of success into a grander overarching narrative that every person of color could overcome structural racism by sheer dint of hard work and determination, plus an abiding faith in God. His story became mythologized, played out on stage and on film as an example of the model minority.

But Carson, like many successful specialists, is not exactly well-rounded in his knowledge of life and the world. He drew the wrong political conclusions from his rise in the medical field, and grew to believe in his own hype–not just that he had a knack for neurosurgery, but that he was a genius in all respects and specially guided by the hand of God. Without even a political science undergraduate’s knowledge of either domestic or foreign policy, Carson decided that he was qualified to be President of the United States–and that his utter lack of policy ken or experience would be unimportant, irrelevant and undiscovered. And if he failed as a presidential candidate? There would always be a right-wing media circuit and book tour available.

In typical fashion for such a candidate, he allowed close friends and confidants to dominate his campaign instead of people who actually knew what they were doing. In particular, he trusted key decisions to Armstrong Williams, a media maven, radio jockey and advertising executive who has rather transparently been using the Carson campaign as his own vehicle for professional advancement. That in turn led to comically bad candidate preparation and campaign decision-making, with the direct result that Carson’s staff is engaged in a mass exodus.

But this shouldn’t surprise anyone. The libertarian-conservative ethic of “get rich any way you can” combined with a stubborn dismissal of objective fact makes political conservatism especially ripe for con artistry. It is no accident that Richard Viguerie was able to conduct his mail fundraising scams on the backs of GOP voters. It’s no accident that the tea party has been home to one grifter after another making a quick buck. American conservatism is the home of quack televangelists and secular Ayn Rand-spouting hucksters alike. Fox News itself is a long con perpetrated on fearful, older white Americans with the goal of making Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes rich while keeping Republican politicians in power. Donald Trump is merely the latest in a long line of egomaniacal scammers willing to play the same group of people for fools.

It should shock no one, then, that GOP presidential campaigns themselves are being waged by con artists, and themselves fall victim to media-hungry carnival barkers. It’s part of the culture.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 2, 2015

January 3, 2016 - Posted by | Ben Carson, GOP Primaries, GOP Voters | , , , , , , ,


  1. I got a call from a young Carson staffer who asked if he could play an audio before asking questions. He proceeded to play a diatribe about how everyone is out to get Carson, etc. When he came back on to ask for money, I declined. I asked him if he believed the BS (using the initials) he just played for me. I said Carson is a fine man and talented surgeon, but he has a lot of legitimate questions to answer as he is not qualified to run without answering them. I thanked him for being involved, but said I could not support Carson.


    Comment by Keith | January 3, 2016 | Reply

    • The biggest question I think he must answer is how will he handle these types of situations. The answer appears to be–not very well.


      Comment by sdmartin1981 | January 3, 2016 | Reply

  2. Honestly earning a GOP nomination is an impossible feat. To be the Republican Candidate one must have the support of the Hyper-Christian far right and the support of the general public. Since these two groups are so very divided a candidate must lie to one group or the other. The end result is either a politician peddling false religion, or a Christian peddling hollow politics. Democrats take a commonsense approach that easily defeats either.


    Comment by sdmartin1981 | January 3, 2016 | Reply

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