This is one of those columns which I almost rushed into writing last night in the midst of the debate madness, but thought better of it. That’s partly because everyone’s focus was rightly on Las Vegas, but mostly because if I hadn’t taken the time to calm down before composing this it would have wound up being a collection of redacted expletives which might have been confused with one of Hillary’s “lost” emails. While waiting for the main stage debate to begin, I noticed a link on Twitter from Washington Post editorial board member Jonathan Capehart. The title was, One word explains the collapse of Ben Carson. As you can well imagine, I had a sinking feeling that I already knew what that “one word” would be, but it dealt with Carson (who was about to take the stage) and Jonathan produces quite a bit of good work – even when I disagree with him – so I decided to roll the dice and click on the link anyway.
That turned out to be a mistake, as I’m sure you’ve already surmised. That “one word” was just what you already guessed if you have any history of reading about politics from liberals. It’s the same word that I’d guessed. And by the time I finished reading the piece (and seething) I’d come to the conclusion that is very likely the most embarrassing column Capehart has ever written. But let’s get the author’s premise out of the way here.
If you want to know the reason behind Ben Carson’s tumble in the polls, you need only look at what propelled him there in the first place: race.
Jonathan starts out by establishing his bona fides on the topic by quoting… himself, from a column earlier this year where he put forth the insulting, blanket generalization that nobody in the Republican Party could really support Carson as a presidential candidate because he’s a brilliant surgeon or because of his profound expressions of faith: they simply wanted to have “their own brilliant black man to support. Their answer to President Obama.”
Capehart notes Carson’s disastrous recent plunge in the polls following his bizarre failures in interviews and debates to demonstrate that he’s been doing any of the legwork required to get up to speed on foreign policy over the course of the campaign. One instance after another has barraged primary voters, calling Carson’s readiness to lead the nation as Commander in Chief into question, and no serious analyst I know has exactly been scratching their heads over his rapid decline. But somehow Capehart finds a way to brush all of that aside.
But if your popularity is largely built on race, if you’re going to be “their black guy” in the GOP, you have no margin for error. You have to be damned near perfect in the eyes of the overwhelmingly white party to hold its support. And Carson hasn’t been since that last poll. Carson goes into Tuesday night’s Las Vegas debate a fallen star. The latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll released on Monday shows an 18-point plummet for Carson. His support now sits at 11 percent.
“Damned near perfect?” How about just marginally in the ballpark? And remember that Capehart is someone who has been lampooning Carson with great abandon for some time now. He does it on Twitter all the time and he’s written on the subject in the past. He scoffed at Carson’s “rambling responses” when he claimed that China was in Syria. He yucked it up over Carson’s stories about attempting to stab his childhood friend. Capehart broke out the small violin regarding Carson’s “endless whining and finger-pointing.” The list goes on. In short, Jonathan Capehart has spent months and invested barrels of virtual ink in convincing readers that Carson’s performance on the campaign trail has proven him unfit for a seat in the Oval Office.
But if you happen to be a Republican – and most particularly a white Republican – you aren’t allowed to take Capehart at his word and agree with him vis a vis Ben Carson’s credentials. If you do, you’re simply demonstrating your racism. But wouldn’t that make Capehart a racist also? Not in his world. Instead, Jonathan trots back to find some support from Harvard professor Leah Wright Rigueur, author of “The Loneliness of the Black Republican,” who is apparently Jonathan’s go-to expert for all things both Republican and racist.
The lack of loyalty to Carson “is where race plays a central role,” Rigueur said. “People touted their devotion to Carson, but have quickly shifted their loyalty to Trump (or [Ted] Cruz, who has really benefitted the most from Carson’s fall from the limelight).” She also pointed out that Cruz’s highlighting the case of Sabina Loving and Trump’s declaration that his goal is to win “100 percent” of the African American vote and his very public meeting with black ministers “[have] given those candidates the kind of superficial ‘cover’ that Carson had previously enjoyed.”
The real buried lead here (as Jake Tapper might call it) is that there is somebody on the payroll at Harvard packed so full of racial animus and hatred that their logic circuits have essentially shorted out. And oh, by the way… did you notice that you defeated your own argument when you pointed out that some of Carson’s supporters were “shifting their loyalty” to Ted Cruz? I’m not sure if anyone mentioned it to you, but he’s Hispanic. Man, for a bunch of white, racist Republicans, these voters are really bad at that whole racism thing, aren’t they?
Capehart’s column is the worst sort of race baiting in the American political arena, and sadly it is far, far too common among liberals in general and the Social Justice Warriors in particular. It’s dishonest, mean spirited, and chock full of internal contradictions, while lacking any sort of objective evidence to support the premise. The only purpose for publishing such a blatantly dishonest racial screed is to continue to stoke the flames of racial animus which are the Democrats’ stock in trade and the fuel which gets their base out to the polls. I’d really prefer not to even acknowledge it, but if I didn’t slug my way through writing and publishing this response today I probably would have taken to drinking drain cleaner just to wash the memory out of my remaining brain cells. Very disappointing, Mr. Capehart. You are much better than this when you choose to be.