The thing that really puzzles me about the Republican primary race is not that Donald Trump is leading but that Ben Carson is in second place. He has no discernible charisma. He has not proposed any significant policies. What exactly is his appeal, other than the fact that he paints an alarming portrait of the imminent collapse of the US and makes the most hyperbolic statements in support of his premise?
Take for example his statement that Obamacare is the worst thing to happen since slavery and is possibly worse than 9/11. Or that the US is very much like Nazi Germany. Or that homosexuality is a choice and drawing comparison between gays and pedophiles. Or that the AP history course in high school is pretty much ISIS propaganda. Or that president Obama has all the appearances of being a psychopath.
His tax plan is based on biblical tithing, which is essentially a flat tax at an even lower rate that Rand Paul’s 14.5% rate, which would be a windfall to wealthy people and bankrupt the country very quickly.
Then take his latest defense of the charge that the Republicans are waging a war on women. He said, referring to the party’s efforts to restrict abortion, “There is no war on women — there may be a war on what’s inside of women, but there is no war on women in this country”.
What the hell does that even mean? How can a war on women’s reproductive systems, or indeed on any part of women, not be a war on women?
Granted, making extreme statements rouses the blood of the Republican base. But why is Carson surging at the expense of the other Republicans who are also no slouches at rabble-rousing rhetoric? Is it because his background as a successful surgeon gives him automatic gravitas? And that being political outsider gives him a boost, the way it has with Trump?
Or is it because of his undoubted skill at using sophistry to evade the consequences of his statements? In other words, is he the Republican successor to Newt Gingrich as “a dumb person’s idea of a smart person“?
But what annoys me the most is that when quizzed about his statements, he hauls out the usual defense of (you guessed it) accusing his questioners of practicing “political correctness”. He is a worse serial abuser of that excuse than even Trump.