To call GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson’s rise to one of the two overwhelming frontrunners for president an “enigma” would be an understatement. Aside from the evangelicals who clearly eat up his religious rhetoric, I can’t understand why anyone would think he’s even remotely qualified to be our next president. Even as a doctor he’s spread false information about Ebola, pushed blatantly misleading information about vaccines during a debate and believes that the theory of evolution is satanic.
As I joked with a buddy of mine, leave it to the GOP to find a brilliant neurosurgeon to run for president – who doesn’t seem to believe in science.
Not only that, but nearly everything the man says is a lie. Even his stories of adolescent violence and a Popeyes restaurant robbery have come under some rather intense scrutiny considering the odd nature of the details involved and the fact that, at least at this point, there’s almost no evidence of any of these events actually occurring. No childhood friend has come forward to corroborate his stories about his past, he says the family member he tried to stab has no desire to be made public and there’s no police record of any robbery taking place at a Popeyes during the time he says the event occurred.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s lying, but it has raised a few doubts about whether or not any of these stories are actually true. Carson himself doesn’t help matters any by often getting dismissive and condescending toward the media anytime he’s pressed to provide details or specifics about the fairly elaborate claims he’s repeatedly made.
Well, Carson better get ready to face even more scrutiny as Politico reported today that his story about getting accepted to West Point was all a lie:
The academy has occupied a central place in Carson’s tale for years. According to a story told in Carson’s book, “Gifted Hands,” the then-17 year old was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That meeting, according to Carson’s telling, was followed by a “full scholarship” to the military academy.
West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission.
A spokesperson for West Point, Theresa Brinkerhoff, told Politico that there’s absolutely no record of Carson ever applying for admission, let alone being offered a scholarship.
But this is all hearsay, right? Not exactly.
After being confronted with these facts, Politico got Carson’s campaign to admit he lied:
Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit. In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer. He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors. They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.
In his book Gifted Hands, Carson recalled the details of the supposed meeting between the two.
“I felt so proud, my chest bursting with ribbons and braids of every kind. To make it more wonderful, we had important visitors that day. Two soldiers who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam were present,” Carson wrote. “More exciting to me, General William Westmoreland (very prominent in the Vietnam war) attended with an impressive entourage. Afterward, Sgt. Hunt” — his high school ROTC director — “introduced me to General Westmoreland, and I had dinner with him and the Congressional Medal winners. Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
Notice he didn’t say he was offered an appointment, it says “offered a full scholarship.”
Again, unless he specifically applied for admission and went through the extremely rigorous vetting process – which he didn’t do – he would have never been offered a full scholarship to West Point.
But the issue here is that we now have confirmation that Carson has lied about pivotal moments in his past. That doesn’t bode well for a candidate who’s already under scrutiny for other stories from his past that seemingly have no evidence to support them. While I’m sure many of his supporters will dismiss the importance of this revelation, a presidential candidate lying about getting into West Point is a fairly big deal.
Besides, there are some things you just don’t do if you’re running for president and exaggerating about anything related to the military is one of them.
Of course, after this story has spread everywhere, Carson’s campaign is saying it’s an “outright lie.” Clearly that’s an act of desperation as it was West Point, not Politico, that debunked Carson’s claims that he was offered a full scholarship. If the Carson camp wants to claim this is a lie, they need to take that up with West Point, not the media.
I don’t see Carson’s campaign surviving this. Not only is the lie itself really bad (even many within the conservative media aren’t really defending him) but it only makes these other stories people have raised questions about recently seem even that more unbelievable.
Will he still have a decent chunk of support from people who don’t care? Of course he will. The truth is, many of those who support Ben Carson don’t care about facts or truth anyway – that’s why they support a candidate who rarely says anything factual. But this will impact his campaign enough, I think, to kill any momentum he has and erode his support enough to end any chance he had at winning the GOP nomination.
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