Warren Rojas of Roll Call makes the obvious point:
Whether Ben Carson fudged a bit on that offer of a “full scholarship” to West Point or it’s a question of “semantics,” as he told reporters on Nov. 6, it wouldn’t be the first time a politician misrepresented their military experience.
Thus begins a brief review of Missouri congressional candidate Ron Dickey (D), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), former Rep. Wes Cooley (R-OR), and former Rep. Bruce Caputo (R-NY)
And in some cases it’s worse than others, but we should note that getting caught making stuff up about military service and honors is not necessarily the end of a politician’s career.
And perhaps Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson ought to take a look through these sordid histories. And while it is true the good doctor really does need to work, generally speaking, on how he responds to revelations of exaggeration and fabrication about the telling of his inspiring life story, a candidate who wants us to believe he is “not a politician” faces additional challenges when trying to walk, talk, and play the game like a politician.
The West Point story is a central one to Carson’s narrative. He has said for years he was offered a “full scholarship” to the military academy — but admitted last week he was encouraged to apply, but hadn’t received an official invitation nor did he apply.
He told CBS he wasn’t being deceitful. “I think it’s a matter of semantics,” he said.
Others couldn’t make the same argument when they reinvented military history.
The powerful role of Ben Carson’s biography in driving his campaign beyond a values voter movement to frontrunner status cannot be overlooked. To the one, sure, he gets to play by the rules all politicians get. That much is true, but Dr. Carson wants us to see him as not being a politician. Politicians exaggerate and even lie on a regular basis, but in addition to being not a politician, Dr. Carson is pushing his Christian piety and virtue, which plays very well in the primary preseason.
And this tale of piety and virtue and determination and all the good stuff about America shows itself to be a lie.
If the myth is that important to the pitch, then so is the lie.
This is Dr. Ben Carson.
Image note: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to the media before addressing the Black Republican Caucus of South Florida at PGA National Resort on 6 November 2015 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Drum, Kevin. “Ben Carson’s Psychology Test Story Gets Even Weirder”. Mother Jones. 8 November 2015.
Rojas, Warren. “About Face! Pols Who Tried to Rewrite Military History”. At the Races. Roll Call. 9 November 2015.