With the Republican Party in shambles, attempting to find an identity that doesn’t scare off half of the electorate, a void has been created that is allowing the craziest of the crazy to have a turn in the spotlight. The latest GOP “rising star” is Dr. Ben Carson.
During a town hall panel on the role of government the evening of April 3rd, Ring of Fire host Mike Papantonio was pitted against Dr. Carson, where Pap specifically asked Carson if he received funding from the Koch-funded astroturf group Americans for Prosperity (AFP). After fumbling around for a few moments, doing his best to avoid the question altogether, Carson finally managed to eek out a response that indicated he was not, in fact, in bed with AFP.
But Carson’s denial is not based in reality. As it turns out, Carson is heavily involved with Americans for Prosperity, and is currently a headliner at events being sponsored by the group. AFP is nothing more than a corporate front group for Koch Industries and other big business interests, who have successfully duped citizens into fighting the battles of corporate America to give them a “grassroots” brigade.
The crowd at the town hall was overwhelmingly conservative, with Tea Party activists clearly representing the majority of attendees. This begs the question of whether or not AFP fell back to their old habits and actually shipped in their own Tea Party activists to fill the crowd, as they did during the national debate on healthcare.
Carson, an African American, has been compared to former Tea Party darling Herman Cain, who was taken out of last year’s presidential election after a series of campaign gaffes and past personal turmoil made him a political pariah. But unlike Cain’s catchy “9-9-9” catchphrase, the only memorable quotes coming out of Carson are of hate and derision.
Carson gained the adoration of Tea Partiers and conservative media hacks during a prayer breakfast with President Obama earlier this year when he derided healthcare reform, spoke favorably about a flat tax system, and castigated the “politically correct” culture of America. Conservative talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck immediately fell in love.
But the prayer breakfast was tame compared to some of Carson’s recent incendiary remarks. For example, he recently compared homosexuality to bestiality, saying that there’s little difference between people who are gay and those who think it is ok to have sex with animals. He also squeezed in a comparison to pedophiles, as well.
And then there was his recent charge that racism is too prevalent today. But he wasn’t talking about the conservative militia types who still think African Americans are inferior to whites or the “Minutemen” who patrol our Southern borders looking for immigrants to capture; Carson was referring to the racism of “white liberals,” a group he claims are more racist than any other faction in American.
It is comments like this that caused student activists at Johns Hopkins Medical School to demand that Carson be dropped as this year’s commencement speaker. This is a particularly bad sign for Carson, as Johns Hopkins is where he is employed as a neurosurgeon.
The Republican Party can do better than Carson, but it is doubtful that they will. The Party is suffering from such an intense internal battle, with the Tea Party and conservative media on one side, and old guard, traditional Republicans on the other. The Tea Party has the microphone, and they’ve chosen to give it to Dr. Ben Carson.
Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer Magazine, a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com, and the producer of Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.