For its April 2015 issue, GQ profiled likely GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson and — hoo boy — the retired neurosurgeon continued to generate mini-controversies for himself by opening his mouth.
Despite hiring communications experts to “protect him… from himself,” Carson gave the men’s magazine a series of quotes right off the bat that are sure to raise eyebrows and get the media a-mockin’. Let’s take a look.
Obama’s a ‘Psychopath’ Who Dresses Well
After his business manager Armstrong Williams noted how President Barack Obama looked “clean” and elegant” during a recent speech, Carson grumbled: “Like most psychopaths. That’s why they’re successful. That’s the way they look. They all look great.”
Indeed, it’s fair to say most politicians who attain high office have some degree of sociopathic tendencies — see F.A. Hayek’s essay on “Why the Worst Get on Top” — but Carson’s quote reflects the seething hatred for Obama that permeates his more staunchly conservative base. That type of rhetoric will almost always get you in trouble when playing on the national stage.
Israel’s Political System ‘Sounds Complex,’ So They Should Just Copy U.S.
Much of the piece followed Carson as he went on a “fact-finding mission” to Israel in February. As the following excerpt illustrates, Carson has a tendency to expose his own ignorance on basic foreign policy matters:
The woman answered Carson’s question about political parties, telling him that there were Labor and Likud and a host of other factions in the Knesset. “And what is the role of the Knesset?” he interjected. This prompted a tutorial on Israel’s legislature. Carson is a tall, dignified-looking man with a placid, almost sleepy face. As he tried to concentrate on his Hebrew Schoolhouse Rock primer, he seemed even more fatigued. “It sounds complex,” he finally said. “Why don’t they just adopt the system we have?”
Sure, the Israeli process is generally seen as “complex” when compared to our red v. blue system, but this dismissive quote is fodder for the primary cannon, you can be sure.
Holocaust Museum Made Him More Confident in U.S.-Nazi Analogies
When asked by GQ‘s Jason Zengerle whether he regrets invoking Godwin’s law so frequently, Carson “refused to give any ground.” And then here’s what happened when the reporter asked Carson the same question again, but this time at the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem:
We’d spent the previous ninety minutes touring the museum, followed by Carson entering Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrance and, black kippah atop his head, laying a wreath made of red, pink, and orange poppies that read “Courage and Truth Will Win: In loving memory the 6 million.” Given all this, I asked Carson, did it make him reconsider his analogy?
“Not at all,” he said. “It makes it even stronger.”
Alan Greenspan Is His Favorite Treasury Secretary
Perhaps testing Carson’s knowledge of White House administrative politics, Zengerle asked the doctor to rattle off his favorite cabinet members. He named Condoleezza Rice for secretary of state; Robert Gates for secretary of defense. When asked about a more obscure department, however…
And when I asked Carson to name his favorite secretary of the treasury, he was stumped. “Andrea Mitchell’s husband,” he eventually offered. I reminded him that Mitchell’s husband, also known as Alan Greenspan, had actually been chairman of the Federal Reserve. “I don’t know that there’s anybody that really stands out to me as an outstanding treasury secretary. I mean, that’s a pretty hard place to be outstanding,” he finally said. “Secretaries of the treasury, for the most part, are not big policy people.”
To be fair to Carson, the question somewhat comes off as a stereotypical gotcha question practically designed to provoke a dumb response. And dumb it was, nevertheless.
Read the full profile here.
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