Ben “Herman Cain” Carson

The GOP has a penchant for elevating bizarre African-Americans to at least token status in presidential campaigns. Herman Cain (who cited Pokeman lyrics as the basis of his philosophical view of the world) had his moment in the Country Club, but nobody really believed he would be the nominee. Now it’s apparently Ben Carson’s turn. An accomplished brain surgeon, he has single-handedly devalued the intellectual gravitas of his profession while ascending to relevance in the crazyland that is the Republican base. He won’t last long (maybe longer than expected if he continues to parrot Trump tactics) but, is anyone really betting on him being the standard bearer for the GOP?

Carson had lent a claim of diversity and intellectual accomplishment to a GOP increasingly known as anti-science and intolerant. That is, until he began to express his views of the world. Comments such as the theory of evolution was “inspired” by Satan, there is no such thing as a “war crime,” going to prison turns people gay, Congress can remove judges if their rulings are not the majority view, and other bizarre beliefs, have lessened the intellectual and tolerance sheen. Carson remains popular with the GOP base, mostly Southern and high school educated, because they believe he validates their fundamentalist, anti-science beliefs.

He caught a little flak for saying he would prevent a mass murder by inciting other people to follow him to attack the shooter, not so much because it made sense, but because he contemporaneously related a story about how he avoided being shot in a Popeye’s restaurant by pointing the gunman to the cashier! In one moment he exposed the faux bravado of the gun lobby with his own cowardice. One could hardly call that smart. “Brain surgeon” used to be synonymous with very smart.

Crazies like the crazy, which explains Carson’s popularity. The worrisome aspect of the Carson candidacy is not so much the potential Carson presidency, as the fact that so much of the GOP base is … let’s be kind and say ‘gullible.’

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