Friday, November 06, 2015


Ben Carson has come under fire from a lot of corners lately, but this seemed to be a problem of a much greater magnitude for him -- after all, conservatives love military power and love war, and act as if military service is a conservative-only domain, so a lie about the military would seem to be a big deal:
Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted, in a response to an inquiry from POLITICO, that a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The academy has occupied a central place in Carson’s tale for years. According to a story told in Carson’s book, “Gifted Hands,” the then-17 year old was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That meeting, according to Carson’s telling, was followed by a “full scholarship” to the military academy.

West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission....

When presented with these facts, Carson’s campaign conceded the story was false.

“Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit,” campaign manager Barry Bennett wrote in an email to POLITICO. “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”

“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett added. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”

Carson would have needed to seek admission in order to receive an offer of free education from West Point. Also, according to West Point, there is no such thing as a “full scholarship” to the military academy, as Carson represented in his book.

An application to West Point begins with a nomination by a member of Congress or another prominent government or military official. After that, a rigorous vetting process begins. If offered admission, all costs are covered for all students; indeed there are no “full scholarships,” per se.
Many right-wing commentators concluded that this was real trouble for Carson's campaign:

Hot Air's Ed Morrissey wrote: "Alternate headline: Make room for Chris Christie on the main debate stage next Tuesday."

But then the right remembered: Hey, wait. This is from the liberal media. We hate the liberal media. So it must be a lie! And now they're in the process of talking themselves into that.

Ben Shapiro is leading the charge:
No, Ben Carson Didn't Lie About West Point. It's Another Media Hit Job.

... Carson never said he applied. He said he was extended a full scholarship offer. What’s more, West Point doesn’t offer scholarships: all admission is free contingent on serving in the military afterwards. It thus seems probable that Westmoreland or another military figure tried to recruit Carson, telling him that he wouldn’t have to pay for his education -- and that Carson read that as a “full scholarship,” and never applied.
So the right could just decide to give up on Carson, who's been dining out on this false story for years, a story that almost rises to the level of "stolen valor," and that demonstrates that he doesn't even know enough about West Point to realize that the school doesn't have scholarships. (Maybe you didn't know that either -- I didn't -- but can you imagine the hue and cry if a Democrat had not only bent the truth this way but failed that particular test of knowledge about our best known service academy? Or can you imagine if Brian Williams had made a similar claim? Even if his subsequent explanation matched what Shapiro says on Carson's behalf?)

No, for the right, this is apparently going to be about the evil liberal media -- and, incidentally, about (wait for it) Barack Obama. Yes, he's relevant to this, as Hot Air's Morrissey explains:
It’s true that Obama wasn’t vetted like this, but after what happened to Sarah Palin, one would think that a political neophyte running for the Republican presidential nomination would know what to expect.
This echoes Carson's own complaint about another media debunking of part of his origin myth, CNN's revelation that childhood friends remember nothing of Carson's alleged violent past:
Carson called the media’s scrutiny of his candidacy unfair, compared to their investigations of Barack Obama, when the then-Illinois senator was running for the White House.

“Obama was not vetted like this,” he said. It “doesn’t even come close to what you guys are trying to do in my case.”

“It is just garbage,” the GOP contender added. “We have too many things that are important to deal with.”
I posted a tweet from Breitbart's John Nolte above. Nolte later deleted the tweet, presumably because it conflicts with the narrative he's been constructing this week: that media scrutiny of Carson -- the presidential poll leader for one of our two major parties -- constitutes a "racially-motivated smear job."

Nolte wrote this on Wednesday:
Let me be very, very clear about one thing: The DC Media cannot allow Dr. Ben Carson to become President of the United States. And if the DC Media has to put on white robes, burn crosses, grab firehoses, and sic German Shepherds on Carson, they will. In fact, they already have. Not literally, but the tactics and the goals are exactly the same: By any means necessary, destroy the free-thinking black man who threatens our power.
Yesterday he wrote:
Going back to slavery, Jim Crow and segregation, Democrats -- and CNN is staffed almost exclusively by Democrats -- have been socialized into a culture that demands the destruction of every free-thinking black person who threatens their power.

White hoods, fire hoses, cross burnings, and German Shepherds have merely been replaced with what Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (who has been relentlessly demonized by the DC Media for three decades) called “the high-tech lynching of an uppity black man.”

And today, as I write this, CNN is using innuendo, outright lies about a stabbing that did not happen, and When Did You Stop Beating Your Wife questions, in one more high-tech lynching of an “uppity black man.”
I think that's going to be the party line on the right, especially after (inevitably) Rush Limbaugh comes to Carson's defense and attacks Politico (if he hasn't already). (UPDATE: Yup, there it is.) Carson's going to get a lot more scrutiny, and there are going to be more skeletons in his closet, but the right is living in a post-truth environment, so it'll all be a liberal media plot.


Tom Hilton said...

I watched this happen in real time on Twitter, and it was stunning how rapid and unanimous the walkback was.

Also hilarious: Ben Shapiro's theory (about the "scholarship") was one I had tweeted earlier as a joke.

Glennis said...

It is possible that the 17 year old Ben Carson thought that what was being extended to him was an offer of a scholarship. Nothing wrong with that. But the Ben Carson of 1992, writing his book, should have fact-checked himself before writing that hogwash, and, further, before basing his entire persona on this now-dubious redemption story. And the Ben Carson of 2015 should have known that people would look into its veracity - for all his indignation, he's got to be stupid not to know that.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Republican lies are always accepted, even lies about the sacrosant military i.e. 'Stolen Valor' claims, right-wingers will never punish or withdraw support for a Republican who lies. The only Republican whom right-wingers won't support is one who is soft on liberals. That is the one, and only, commandment for conservatives.