Tuesday, May 05, 2015


I'm certainly not a Ben Carson fan, but I think this Dana Milbank column is unfair:
Ben Carson’s over-the-top ego

Ben Carson, who formally announced his run for the presidency Monday, is a brilliant surgeon, gifted storyteller and charismatic speaker. But modesty is not among his talents.

The retired Johns Hopkins professor’s launch video, nearly five minutes long, positions the aspiring Republican presidential nominee right alongside Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.

“We can once again become the authors of ideas that have such profound magnitude,” proclaims the deep voice-over, while Mount Rushmore appears on-screen. “Great transformations begin from a single event.”

Such as George Washington crossing the Delaware, or Ben Carson winning the Iowa caucuses.

The video moves on -- to an American flag, the Declaration of Independence, a church, and then the seated stone figure of Lincoln, enthroned at his memorial on the Mall.

“First we must heal, and healing requires a leader with calm, unwavering resolve -- someone more concerned about the next generation than the next election.”

Someone such as Lincoln. Or Ben Carson....
Really? Carson says a lot of crazy things in his speeches and media appearances, and he doesn't seem inclined to try to master the subject areas he'd need to know to be president -- but is his ego bigger than the egos of other presidential candidates? How different is his video from the melodramatic treacle we get from other aspirants?

How are the shots of the Lincoln and King memorials in the Carson video different from the Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt invocations in this John McCain video from 2008?

Or Ted Cruz annoucing his own presidential candidacy?
I want to talk to you this morning about reigniting the promise of America: 240 years ago on this very day, a 38-year-old lawyer named Patrick Henry...


... stood up just a hundred miles from here in Richmond, Virginia...


... and said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

... imagine it’s 1775, and you and I were sitting there in Richmond listening to Patrick Henry say give me liberty or give me death.

Imagine it’s 1776 and we were watching the 54 signers of the Declaration of Independence stand together and pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to igniting the promise of America.

Imagine it was 1777 and we were watching General Washington as he lost battle, after battle, after battle in the freezing cold as his soldiers with no shoes were dying, fighting for freedom against the most powerful army in the world....
At this point, a right-winger would point to some of the more florid rhetoric in Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. John McCain made an ad about that. He ignored the obvious fact that some of this was self-mocking, and some of it was trying to build a voter base the way you build a movement -- but conservatives weren't completely off base when they said that some of this was a bit much:

Look, there's a lot of hyperbole in American political rhetoric. It seems to me that Milbank is singling out Carson's hyperbole because he's Not One Of Us. I don't mean that he's black (Obama is black) -- I mean that he's not part of the insider politics/business/media crowd.

Every politician's excesses should probably be mocked -- why limit this to Carson?


CRG said...

Because it is always, always, always easier for journalists to do quarter-baked character judgments than to look into policy.

gocart mozart said...

That add is literally the least crazy thing Carson has said in the last two years.

Philo Vaihinger said...

And maybe TR, Lincoln, and the others weren't demigods.

We Americans have our own cults of personality.

John Taylor said...

Whatever the message, Ben is still cuckoo.

Aunt Snow said...

“First we must heal,"

What do we need healing from?

Ken_L said...

I agree, I thought that column was plain weird. I mean Cruz's ego shines through his face with such a blinding light you just want to slap it, and Paul and Fiorina aren't too far behind. Carson is a top flight surgeon who's spent most of his life giving orders to people in a hospital who obey without question. It's probably contributed to an air of smug (and unjustified) confidence in his own judgement, but it's not really ego.