Ben Carson has risen to be the ringleader in the circus that is the Republican primary battle, and his performances are quite perplexing. Earlier this morning, he blew up at a CNN anchor who fact-checked his autobiography and could corroborate nothing in it, complaining of his victimization by the media and seemed genuinely upset at why nobody believes his lies.
Hours later, his campaign admitted that Carson entirely fabricated a story in his book, Gifted Hands, which asserted that he was “the Junior ROTC at a dinner for Congressional Medal of Honor winners, marched at the front of Detroit’s Memorial Day parade as head of an ROTC contingent, and was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
West Point does not offer full scholarships, and the military academy reported that there were no records of Carson in their files. When pressed for comment, campaign manager Barry Bennett admitted it was fake:
“Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit. 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. 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.”
Additionally, a review of General Westmoreland’s schedule in Army records indicate that the general “did not visit Detroit around Memorial Day in 1969 or have dinner with Carson.”
Carson’s constant lying about everything from a mugging at a Popeye’s to a bizarre story about stabbing a friend, his absurd statements about the Pyramids and their use for storing grain, poses a very perplexing problem. Carson’s appeal lies in his success story, of a young black man who rose to success against all the odds – but it now appears that story may not be true. He has no other qualifications other than his career as a doctor, which is similarly littered with question marks.
As the scrutiny on the new front-runner increases, it is becoming very clear that Carson lives in his own delusional world that has no relation to reality, which doesn’t bother the Republican voters who live under similar fantasies. For a man who says that “honesty is more important than political experience,” this presents a mind-boggling hypocrisy. Whether or not it will have any affect on his popularity remains to be seen. Is our nation really, as the Rachel Maddow Blog put it, moving into “post-knowledge politics,” where facts don’t matter and the truth is malleable?
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.