I realized only after watching this edited video that the activity of the so-called Republican candidates’ debate was not simply the circus it seemed from the outset; it was actually a conspiracy. A cunning, well-laid conspiracy. And it is so Machiavellian that I actually smiled in appreciation of its deviousness.
My first reaction on watching the debate (online) was that no one in their right minds could ever select any of these clowns for president.
Come on – Donald Trump as front-runner? That’s a joke, right? Daffy Duck would make a better, smarter president.
It’s got to be a big circus; mere entertainment for Americans weary of reading about another gun-nut mass slaying in their home town that the Republican candidates will callously gloss over or say could have been prevented by everyone else being armed (often while quoting some obscure Biblical phrase).
And these clowns running for an office that requires intelligence, wisdom and critical thinking – that is immensely entertaining. It was like watching 10 comedians all playing Lou Costello in the famous “Who’s on First” skit simultaneously, with the moderators as Bud Abbott.
But maybe it’s a lot more devious that it appears. Maybe it’s far more cunning than any of us realized and we’re all the patsy in a con game.
Sure, the gang of them came across as a tribe of angry, misanthropic (and among several, misogynistic), close-minded, rich elitists with less economic and political understanding than a bunch of rabid chipmunks, but the religious zeal of an ISIS convert.
Loud, rude, impolite and frothing… and lying through their collective teeth.
All except one. Ben Carson came across as reserved, calm, civil and patient.
Not at all like a wingnut. Solid, hardly flaky at all.
But that’s what he is. He’s a far right, gun nut with creationist ideas. But compared to the rest on the stage, he almost seemed sane.
Don’t be misled. As Gerald Caplan wrote about Carson in the Globe and Mail recently:
An extreme conservative Christian, Carson is a genuine screwball. He compares Obama’s America to Nazi Germany – “very much like Nazi Germany,” he emphasizes. He believes the universe was created in six days and that the end of days is nigh. So who needs an election or a president anyway?… He’s a pro-gun fanatic who makes the National Rifle Association look like bleeding-heart liberals. He told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed.”
And at a rising second in the popularity contest, he’s rapidly closing in on front-runner Trump as the possible presidential candidate. Back in September, The Daily Beast reported:
Republican primary voters—a group with well-attested metal health issues—are responding to treatment by Dr. Ben. In recent polls, support for Carson has risen from 6 percent to 23 percent putting him (given political polling’s 100 percent +/- margin of error) in a dead heat with Donald Trump for GOP front-runner. True, that was before his ho-hum Sept. 16 debate performance, but Republicans go to the doctor for what ails them, not to get a good talking-to.In Freudian terms, there is an upside to Republican schizophrenia. The Republican Id favors id-iotic Donald Trump. But the Republican Super Ego goes for superior Ben Carson.
Carson is all the more scary for being so low-key in his madness. People see the dancing loonies around him, waving their arms and shouting slogans, and assume the quiet guy is the only inmate with any sense. T’ain’t so. He’s just as nutso as the rest. Just quieter about it.
It’s not just Canadians who think he’s a screwball. American journalists and commentators have made similar, even more caustic remarks about Carson’s apparent disassociation with reality. He is proof that to be a brain surgeon you don’t have to be a rocket scientist (if you will forgive the mixed metaphor). Here’s what Mike Barnicle wrote on The Daily Beast about Carson:
…it wasn’t until last week that Carson managed to prove he has lost more than a few shingles off his roof. Ben has his own space program going and he’s out there on the fringe talking nonsense in a soft, nonthreatening manner that is quite similar to the voice level heard among so many sitting sadly by themselves today in Day Rooms of mental institutions, off in a corner, wearing paper slippers, slowly eating apple sauce, unaware that nobody is listening.
Somewhat incredibly though, a small percentage of people are listening to Gentle Ben. And he is indeed running for president of the United States. And each day he takes the field and gives new meaning to crazy.
And here’s a quote from a recent Salon article about Carson’s strict adherence to Republican values:
The GOP’s logic is simple: If you let people think about victims, they can become sympathetic, and then action on their behalf is the logical response. But that would violate GOP orthodoxy, especially on guns, so it absolutely cannot be allowed to happen. Of course, the same logic applies on anything requiring government action, except when it comes to the tiny sliver of GOP-approved victims. And so there’s a whole set of GOP/NRA rhetorical responses meant to deny gun violence victims status of “worthy victimhood” that would morally impel us to collective action. In this, there’s a strong similarity to how the GOP victim blames others it doesn’t want to help: low-wage workers, folks without health care, dreamers, etc.
If ever a rabid, pro-gun Christian fundamentalist (the cult-like Seventh-Day Adventist) could be described as Buddha-like, it was Gentle Ben during that debate: the calm, quiet composure in the midst of all that accusatory spittle and finger pointing. Good camouflage. And there’s where the conspiracy comes in.
See, I don’t think the GOP plans to run the obvious wingnuts like Trump and Cruz and Fiorina as a presidential candidate. That would be like putting up a Kardashian for a Nobel prize. They would be blown away in any debate by a Smurf in Democratic clothing, let alone an intellectual powerhouse like Sanders or Clinton. Only when these wingnuts are on stage together can they hold their own – and even then only by acting like a two-year-old having a temper tantrum.
Nor does the GOP want Americans to vote someone so clearly crazy into the highest office. Even the most right of the right among them must surely realize how disastrous that would be for the nation. The economic collapse, the destruction of international relations, the greater empowerment and enrichment of the already-rich, the accelerated rise of corporate control, the decay of civil rights and freedom, the increased impoverishment of the lower and middle-class, the increase in mass shootings, the end of science, education and learning… surely not even the most conservative Republicans want that.
But they DO want those wingnuts to stand as measuring sticks for Carson. Viewers watching the gong-show debates cannot help but make a favourable comparison.
The rest also come across as liars, eschewing truth and spouting outright lies. All except Gentle Ben. Doesn’t matter that he has made numerous false statements during his campaign – 16 egregious ones, in fact. Atlantic Magazine recently wrote about a recent lie he made regarding his documented association with supplement maker, Mannatech:
Presidential candidates frequently stretch the truth. Some of them have made fantastical claims about President Obama’s birth certificate, for example, or their ability to construct a giant wall on the Mexican border that Mexico will pay for. But Carson’s outright denial seems egregious even by that standard. His relationship with the company is lengthy and well-documented, which makes his response even more bizarre.
But it’s how Carson appears that matters, not the truth behind his statements. And therein lies the conspiracy.
Yes, Carson is an untruthful wingnut, just like the others. But I suspect he can be controlled far more easily by the string-pullers, and I doubt anyone thinks they can control an erratic loudmouth like Trump, Bush or Cruz (certainly the Koch brothers would have a hard time buying Trump as they have so many other Republicans).
Carson fits most of the Republican ideals, despite his colour – they prefer aged white men as their candidates – but which will be an asset when trying to win over the black vote. He’s a nut in so many ways that Republicans love: pro-guns, pro-Christianity, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-abortion, anti-universal-health care (i.e. anti-Obama-care), anti-climate science (aka global warming), anti-immigrant, anti-women (anti-feminism at the least), pro-corporation (at least pro-Mannatech…) and no business or government experience to taint his views on either.
I think it’s all been a ruse to get Carson as the candidate of choice, by letting the world compare him to those we all know are really, seriously and outwardly nuts. The lesser of all the evils up there on the stage. He isn’t: he’s just the quiet lunatic. But that may be what he needs to get to the top.