In the classic 1960s movie, a captured American soldier is programmed by commies to kill, and released into U.S .politics to do the job.
The odds for Dr. Ben Carson being a Manchurian Candidate sent to destroy his party are better than those for POTUS being a closet Muslim with a forged birth certificate. Obama is all too predictable, but Carson is startling and hypnotic, as unique in his Christian humility as Trump is with those snide one liners. In their quiet mealy-mouthed way, Carson's statements are amazing and disquieting.
Liberals are howling like coyotes, and staunch Republican Morning Joe Scarborough bluntly told him to stop embarrassing himself. It’s not stopping: the Wall Street Journal has unearthed more questionable tales, one about saving white students from black rage after the King assassination, another about getting his picture in the paper at Yale for his remarkable honesty in connection with a psychology test.
There may be legitimate confusion about Carson’s imaginary scholarship to West Point and the chat with General William Westmoreland that could not have happened, and it’s very arguable that marijuana can do bad things to the immature brain.
But even Ben Carson’s “science” is off the wall.
Evolution is anathema to the party base, a potent rallying cry to the religious right that we expect to see from, say, Mike Huckabee. But not an educated man with a scientific background, because evolution is part of basic medical training, and that’s widely known fact.
And that granary kerfuffle. The notion of the pyramids being granaries is so uninformed, so totally at odds with widely known fact, that his statement is troubling. Smart junior high kids know better. And it goes on: the notion of tithing has appeal to his base, but it’s silly enough to make those other dodgy tax "plans" look reasonable. On this serious and complicated issue, Carson showed no sign of having done any research at all. When challenged he started throwing numbers around off the top of his head, as if a trillion here or there was nothing to get excited about. He doesn’t get excited. Except about his mysterious youth. CNN's investigation of his tale of childhood violence and attempted murder was done professionally. Not definitive, but pretty clear, and it wasn’t Swiftboating – they talked to people who’d known him, not political enemies or bought-and-paid for witnesses. It was a routine obligatory procedure, reasonable journalism.
Dr. Carson went bonkers and attacked CNN at length, because none of his childhood acquaintances could remember anything but a shy kid with glasses. Then he said those acquaintances weren’t around at the time, which they were. It was embarrassing: Carson fantasized and CNN did their homework. But attacking the media is always safe, so that’s what he did. Carson's presentation of strange views and tales in his uniquely calm manner is more disturbing than Trump’s calculated showbiz ranting. He is not the normal political liar at all, and has the unnerving rock-solid assurance of someone for whom personal and unlikely opinions are articles of faith. Trump is a shrewd and calculating manipulator who knows what he can get away with and makes sense in those terms. In Carson we have a man who presents himself as reasonable but who rejects the basic rules of sane dialog for a different and much more dangerous reason. Stop Making Sense was a hit song. Carson is using it as a methodology in his revivalist campaign. It’s the Know Nothing Party born again.
There’s a bottom line here: it’s possible to be overwhelmingly expert in a discipline — playing the violin, applying the calculus, painting portraits — and be a fool about almost everything else.
Carson’s information and judgment on non-medical matters borders on childish. He is by general consent an expert brain surgeon, but that qualifies him as a doctor, and only that. His homey little solutions to real-world problems may not quite be crazy, but letting him be the Republican nominee would be all of that.