Dr. Ben Carson want to be President of the United States. He will not be elected, but the very fact that he polls in the top three among Republican candidates should have every thinking American worried. Very worried! (Of course, in 1956 a woman told presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson he had the vote of every thinking American. “That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!”)
Deciding where to begin with Dr. Carson challenges me. Alas, two comments about guns in the past couple of weeks carry the day.
After the Oregon community-based college campus shooting, Dr. Carson said “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” to which he added, “I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him.’” Now, no one has ever shot me, or shot at me, so I can’t speak about a situation like this one first-hand, but I doubt whether there’s an opportunity to huddle up and make a plan to deal with an armed man who wants to kill people.
Dr. Carson has also claimed—and I say claimed because his reports about the incident are inconsistent—that he “had a gun held on me when I was in a Popeye’s organization.” He claims he said, with a gun stuck in his ribs, “I believe you want the guy behind the counter.” Here’s Snopes with the skinny.
My big takeaway from Dr. Carson’s comments on the Oregon episode? He’s a callous, dishonest buffoon with self-esteem issues. Callous because his comments are shockingly insensitive to nine families and countless friends of nine dead people. Dishonest because the Popeye’s story doesn’t hold together and first came to light after the Oregon shooting incident. With a man whose whole sell is his bio—he’s clearly an accomplished surgeon—this story would have surfaced a long time ago. As for being a buffoon with self-esteem issues, he sounds like an immature 18-year-old who’s hollering “I’d a kicked his ass,” lying on the ground with a black eye after a bar fight. Unfortunately, in a world in which access to weapons is absurdly easy, the 18-year-old will likely be dead on the ground after the bar fight.*
Not done yet, Dr. Carson wandered into the issue of gun control and the Nazis. He suggested that, but for gun control “the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed.” (Vanessa Williams has Carson suggests that gun rights might have changed history for Jews in WWII for the Washington Post on October 8.)
As it happens—and feeling like very much like Alvy Singer in line at the movie theatre, producing Marshall McLuhan from nowhere to tell a moron he’s full of sh*t—I just happen to have Ben Bernanke here to clarify things. Ben Bernanke is the former Chair of the Federal Reserve, appointed by President George W. Bush. He has a Ph.D in Economics from MIT, and his expertise lies in the worldwide effects of Great Depression in the early 1930s. (Here’s Greg Ip for the Wall Street Journal from 2005, when Mr. Bernnake was appointed to the Fed, with Long Study of Great Depression Has Shaped Bernanke’s Views.)
I don’t know Mr. Bernanke, so I must rely on his public comments. In the Author’s Note in The Courage to Act he writes that in the 1930s world leaders “remained passive in the face of ruinous deflation and financial collapse,” which led to “a global Great Depression, breadlines, and 25 percent unemployment in the United States, and the rise of fascist dictatorships abroad.”
Adolf Hitler was an elected leader, popular because he was selling simple solutions for complex problems. Sound familiar? There was no significant opposition to the Nazi movement, so guns were not a factor. And if Dr. Carson really think Jews in Europe died for want of handguns to challenge the German Army, stupid is another adjective which describes this man well.
Within a group of embarrassingly bad candidates for the Republican nomination, Dr. Carson stands tall. Stupid, callous, and truly ridiculous!
*Dr. Carson did try to clean this mess up by saying he did not intend to offend anyone, or words to that effect.
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