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Forget West Point; focus on Ben Carson’s crackpot ideas

We should spend our Carson time vetting his policy proposals.

Ben Carson has called the Affordable Care Act the worst thing to happen to Americans since slavery.
REUTERS/Alvin Baez

To paraphrase Bernie Sanders: “Enough with Ben Carson’s damn scholarship to West Point.”

It’s true that, unlike Hillary Clinton’s emails, the national media has spent only the last few days obsessing over whether, in one of his memoirs, Dr. Carson exaggerated or fabricated his account being offered a full scholarship to West Point.

Personally, I am willing to accept that someone encouraging him to seek an appointment to West Point said something to him that he remembered as such an offer. That’s good enough for me. Thanks to the aforementioned obsessionization, we all  now know that there is not really such a thing as a full scholarship to West Point, since the cost of a West Point education is paid by the government for all who enroll there. I don’t believe this particular controversy is worth even this fat paragraph by me, let alone the media storm it has received.

Ben Carson believes the stories in the Old and New Testaments are literally true. Literally. True. As evidence that he could be a qualified president despite his lack of experience in government, he cited — as if this was evidence — that Noah’s ark was built by amateurs, yet it completed its mission of saving all the species on Earth from the biblical flood, while the Titanic was built by professionals. (By the way, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank, and this is true even though not covered by the Bible.)

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Ben Carson calls progressive taxation a form of “socialism.” He recommends — and would propose as president — a flat tax to replace the entire federal tax system. He used to say the single flat rate would be set at 10 percent, because he believed that to be God’s plan. Now he says it might have to start at 15 percent. Neither of those figures would fund the government (although he also favors a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution).

Ben Carson used to favor doing away with Medicare and Medicaid and replacing them with “health savings accounts” (although he now says he would not abolish the old program but that everyone would voluntarily switch from them to his health savings accounts).

Ben Carson has called the Affordable Care Act the worst thing to happen to Americans since slavery. Ben Carson has said and written that Second Amendment-type rights to bear arms, if they had existed in Germany in the 1930s, would have prevented Hitler’s genocidal policies.

The main point of Ben Carson’s autobiography (in which he claimed to have been offered a scholarship to West Point) — that he rose from a childhood of destitution to a successful career as a neurosurgeon — is true and admirable. His utterances on world history and public policy and such scientific issues as evolution are crackpot. Somehow, notwithstanding all these cracked pots, he has risen (according to the polls) to be one of the two leading contenders for the presidential nomination of one of America’s great political parties, the party, in fact, of Lincoln.

I suggest that instead of spending any more time vetting what someone who may have wanted to recruit him into West Point might have said to induce him to seek an appointment to that military academy (and, by all accounts, he did not seek such an appointment), we spend our Carson time vetting his policy proposals so that, if he becomes the Republican nominee or if he becomes president, the nation will know what it is getting.