Wednesday, October 21, 2015

GOP Clown Car Part 14: Ben Carson

  The last two clowns in the clown car are possibly the hardest two to figure out. Two outsiders, who have struck a nerve with Republican base. Both have said and done things that would normally doom a campaign. Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon turned presidential candidate, is currently running second to real estate mogul, Donald Trump, in the current Real Clear Politics average of polls. Dr. Carson is over ten points ahead of third place candidate, Marco Rubio. Together Mr. Trump and Dr. Carson are over 45% in the polls, and while Trump has gotten plenty of national press, other than articles about some bizarre comments Dr. Carson has said recently, he has not had nearly the same amount of press coverage that Trump has had. The two front runners are taking slightly different paths. Trump has done more public events, but has used the media's never ending fascination of all things Trump to get almost daily coverage, instead of using traditional advertising. Dr. Carson has been a conservative hero ever since he attacked President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast. He has not only made money off this, but he has also turned that right wing love into a so far successful run for president, and has mostly been in right wing world during his campaign.

  Unlike Trump, who has mostly operated in the mainstream media, Dr. Carson has not done that much, traditional campaigning, and has mostly been operating in the insular world of right wing media. Dr. Carson's comments on Roseberg, Oregon school shooting is only the latest example of outrageous comments he is made while running for president. Dr. Carson's comments are bizarre for a presidential candidate, but not so strange in the realms of right wing media, which started back in the '90s with Rush Limbaugh, and the right wing talkers spewing hate. Then adding Fox News and the right wing internet and blog sites an enclosed world has been created. Some the most vile, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and violent comments have come out of the right wing media in the past couple of decades. The bile has only become more toxic in the age of Obama, and also the place where Carson got his start. Considering that right wing media is some people's only source of news and information, it is pretty easy to see why Dr. Carson is very popular with a certain portion of the Republican base. When  Dr. Carson makes some of his more outrageous comments, he sounds like somebody that is used to talking to that audience. One of the ways you can tell that Dr. Carson has been in the cocoon of right wing media too long is how shocked he seems to be when reporters have the gall to ask him about some of his more out there statements. Sarah Hill on Salon listed some the more outrageous things that Carson has said. Hill also adds to the mix the almost godlike attitude surgeons have. So he goes from being a famous surgeon to right wing media celebrity. He is used to being loved and adored, and is never really questioned because people love him so much.

 In addition to being able to say lots of mean and awful things without consequences, the right wing media is a great place to make money. In fact, Gary Legum on Salon thinks that Dr. Ben Carson is a straight up grifter, that is only in it for the money. I have no idea if this is actually true or not. On one hand, he does like the money he makes being a star in the right wing media world, but on the other hand there does seem to be at least some motivation to be the next president. He just does not want to run a traditional campaign. So he takes two weeks off to sell a book, while everybody else is grinding away in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. I think it says more about how is used to being surgeon/right wing hero Dr. Ben Carson, who doesn't like to be questioned about his actions and statements. To be fair, so far it is working, he just does what he does, says what he says, and he is still second place. Now we just wait, and see what happens.

  I simply do not know how long the run will last for Dr. Carson. People could decide that they don't like Carson as much and the gravity drags him down. Maybe he will be around, when the actual voting starts. He has the best shot in Iowa, but is running farther behind in New Hampshire and South Carolina. What does a winning strategy look like for Carson? Does he have the infrastructure to last past the earlier states? There just seems to be so many questions about the future Dr. Carson's campaign, and nobody knows what the answers are.

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