The Ben Carson Show (Reality Curve)

Dr. Ben Carson spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 8 March 2014, in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo: Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

This is why it matters:

During the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, for example, Carson―then, a junior at Detroit’s Southwestern High―claims to have heroically protected a few white students from anger-fueled attacks by hiding them in the biology lab, where he worked part time. But The Wall Street Journal could not confirm the account through interviews with a half-dozen of Carson’s classmates and his high school physics teacher. All of the students remembered the riot, but none could recall white students hiding in the biology lab.

It’s one of several biographical claims upon which Carson has relied in an effort to appeal to evangelical voters, who value the retired neurosurgeon’s personal journey from troubled youth to pious doctor. As Carson has shot to the front of the Republican presidential pack, however, parts of that narrative have been called into question.

(Margolin; boldface accent added)

It just seems that in this time of religious identification and public displays of piety in order to be seen by others, the degree to which false witness has helped Dr. Carson’s fame becomes significant. Launching his campaign, Ben Carson would have had us believe that he is “not a politician”. Watching his campaign try to fashion a response to the cracking and crumbling of the superficial Ben Carson myth, one might be tempted to suspect otherwise.

Then again―

Carson, for his part, is taking a defiant stand in hopes of portraying the scrutiny as a witch hunt by the media. During a press conference Friday evening, the usually subdued Carson appeared agitated and accused the press of not examining President Obama’s past to the same extent when he was running for the White House in 2008.

―perhaps it would be better to suggest he seems to be getting the hang of it in general, but still has some trouble dealing with the learning curve. Is there such thing as a reality curve for candidates? That is to say, sure, Dr. Carson is working on learning the routines; blame the media, complain that nobody ever scrutinized President Obama, and so on. But he is a frontrunner, and at some point will need to show he is capable of applying these basic lessons in a real context.

And no, it is not unfair that Dr. Carson should be expected to be able to pitch his piety without simply making shit up.


Image note: Dr. Ben Carson at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 8 March 2014, in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Benen, Steve. “Ben Carson and the ‘learning curve of a candidate'”. msnbc. 26 March 2015.

—————. “Carson runs into another ‘learning curve'”

—————. “Carson runs into the ‘learning curve’ again”. 8 October 2015.

—————. “‘Learning curve’ gives Carson trouble again”. msnbc. 28 October 2015.

Margolin, Emma. “Dr. Ben Carson Plays Defense as Biographical Questions Pile Up”. NBC News. 8 November 2015.

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