Sunday, September 20, 2015


Carly Fiorina, the ball's in your court.
The president of the United States should not be a Muslim, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson declared during an interview airing Sunday morning. And Islam, a faith professed by some 3 million Americans, is not constitutional, the retired neurosurgeon said.

At the end of his "Meet the Press" segment with NBC News' Chuck Todd, Carson responded to a series of questions related to Donald Trump's failure to correct an audience member at a New Hampshire town hall last Thursday who suggested in his question that President Barack Obama is a Muslim and not an American.

Asked whether his faith or the faith of a president should matter, Carson said, "It depends on what that faith is."

"If it's inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the constitution, no problem," he explained, according to a transcript.

Todd then asked Carson, whose rise in the polls has been powered in large part by Christian conservatives, if he believed that "Islam is consistent with the Constitution."

"No, I don't, I do not," he responded, adding, "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."
On a related issue, according to NBC, "Carson said he has 'no reason to doubt' that President Obama was born in the United States and is a Christian" -- but let me remind you that a year ago he was a bit more skeptical, as World Net Daily reported at the time:
... Dr. Ben Carson ... says President Obama should be more open with his records, including documentation that could show he applied for financial aid as a foreign student....

In an interview on Alan Colmes' Fox News radio show, ... Colmes suggested that it was racism against a black president that caused people to doubt his origins.

Bunk, asserted Carson.

"Has there been anybody else who has had a shroud of secrecy around their records like this?" Carson asked.

He told Colmes he didn't personally challenge Obama's claim of being born in Hawaii, but he insisted Obama needs to be more transparent....

Carson [said] that the "best way to put that to rest is expose everything, including your academic records."

"Let us know, you know, where did you apply -- when you applied to Columbia, from where were you applying?"

... Carson ... asked: "But has there been anybody else who has had a shroud of secrecy around their records like this?"
So Carson is bashing Muslims (though backing away from birtherism) and Donald Trump, naturally, is doubling down on his own Muslim attacks:
Trump ... was asked on CNN's State of the Union about his campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday.....

"We could be politically correct if you want," Trump said. "Are you trying to say we don't have a problem?"

... "We have radicals that are doing things," he said. "It wasn't people from Sweden that blew up the World Trade Center."

... On ABC's "This Week" broadcast, Trump again referred to "a worldwide problem" with Muslims...

"You look around the world, it is a problem," Trump said. "You know, the terrorism and everything else, it seems to be pretty much confined there."
Trump also declined several times during the ABC interview to say that he believed Obama was born in the U.S.
Anyone who continues to think that the questioner at Trump's rally was a plant meant to embarrass Trump is nuts. Trump thinks this sort of talk wins him votes -- he's had a couple of days to revise and polish his message, so if he thought this was harmful to him, he'd back down, but he's not doing that. And Trump is almost certainly correct in his assessment of Republican voters. Carson also knows that Islamophobia sells to the GOP voter base, so that's what he's delivering.

I don't think Fiorina will be able to keep up.

You probably don't know this, but a lot of people on the right do: A few weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Fiorina made a speech that praised Islam.
There was once a civilization that was the greatest in the world.

It was able to create a continental super-state that stretched from ocean to ocean, and from northern climes to tropics and deserts. Within its dominion lived hundreds of millions of people, of different creeds and ethnic origins.

... this civilization was driven more than anything, by invention. Its architects designed buildings that defied gravity. Its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption. Its doctors examined the human body, and found new cures for disease. Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel and exploration.

Its writers created thousands of stories. Stories of courage, romance and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things.

... the civilization I'm talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and enlightened rulers like Suleiman the Magnificent....
She also wrote this in her 2006 book Tough Choices about her time as a teenager in Ghana, where her father was a professor on a teaching sabbatical:
I remember hearing, for the first time, Muslims pray, and how over time their sound evolved from being frightening in its strangeness to comforting in its cadence and repetition -- I would feel the same peace when I listened to the sound of summer cicadas around my grandmother's house. I grew to love being awakened in the morning by the sound of the devout man who always came to pray under my bedroom window.
Fiorina is now in second place among Republicans, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. Carson is a point behind her in this poll, in third place. (A new NBC poll has Carson in second and Fiorina in third. In both polls, Trump is comfortably ahead of the runners-up.)

But Fiorina has surrendered the news cycle to Trump for the past several days, after dominating it for about a day, because of Trump's Islamophobe questioner. Now Carson will share the headlines with Trump.

If this is the turf on which the contest is going to be fought in the next few days or weeks, Fiorina's not going to be able to compete. "Responsible" candidates -- Bush, Rubio, Kasich -- won't be able to keep up, either.

This is what the Fox-primed voter base wants. It looks as if we may finally have a nominee who's a sincere representative of the real GOP. I just don't know whether it'll be Trump or Carson.


Infidel753 said...

You're right, the Fiorina boomlet can't last. A nuanced view can perfectly well accept both the greatness of Middle Eastern civilization and the reality of Islamic terrorism (as the greatness of American civilization and the history of terrorist groups like the KKK are both real) -- but the base doesn't do nuance.

If it comes down to Trump or Carson, it's going to be Trump. Carson doesn't project the toughness that Trump does, and there's an irreducible core of Republicans that, when you get right down to it, won't vote for a black guy.

mlbxxxxxx said...

Somebody needs to ask Carson, since he apparently favors a religious test for office, what other parts of the Constitution he has problems with.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

"It wasn't people from Sweden that blew up the World Trade Center," Trump said.

Of course not, silly! We all know it was Iraqis.

Don Moors said...

Seconded that it will be Trump if Trump/ Carson is the choice.
The GOP doesn't do Black folks when the rubber hits the road.
Carson is this year's Herman Cain, nothing more, nothing less.
(And to think I once admired Dr. Carson before he outed himself as a lunatic…)

Frank Wilhoit said...

So, according to Ms. Fiorina, Muslims praying sound like a bunch of bugs. I don't see what's not for the base to like...?

trnc said...

"Anyone who continues to think that the questioner at Trump's rally was a plant meant to embarrass Trump is nuts."

I always assumed the plant talk was about Trump's campaign putting someone in the audience to ask the question he did (or a question along those lines).

marieburns said...

Looks as if all the candidates are playing "Know Your Base." John Kasich, who is presenting himself as the reality-based candidate, is happy to make your case. Chuck Todd asked him, "Would you ever have a problem with a Muslim becoming president?"

Kasich replied, "You know, I mean, that's such a hypothetical question. The answer is, at the end of the day, you've got to go through the rigors, and people will look at everything. But, for me, the most important thing about being president is you have leadership skills, you know what you're doing, and you can help fix this country and raise this country. Those are the qualifications that matter to me."

I think his answer is "A Muslim can be POTUS," but he sure does a masterful job of obfuscation. (Naturally, Chuck doesn't follow up to clarify Kasich's response. Because that would be committing journalism.)


Aunt Snow said...

Has there been anybody else who has had a shroud of secrecy around their records like this

Yes. Every single American student, because our records are kept confidential according to federal law (FERPA). Yours included, Dr. Carson.