Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The silliness about a Ben Carson presidential bid just got sillier. With much fanfare, he recently gathered a flock of supposedly well-heeled donors, boosters, and political operatives in Palm Beach, Florida and announced that he’s formed a PAC, with the presumptuous name, One Nation to prep his 2016 White House bid. As in past times, when he’s teased the media and some of the more gullible GOP acolytes into actually thinking that his presidential talk is anything more than an amusing sideshow, it makes good copy. And just as in past times, when he pops off about a White House run, no one ever asks the obvious question. Short of endlessly milking his past reputation as a rags to successful neurosurgeon, and making a few inane quips about President Obama and Democrats before a pack of ultra-conservative fawners and groupies, what makes him real political timber, let alone presidential stuff?
Then again, that’s really not the question anyone who buys into the Carson silliness would ask since he has about as much chance of mounting a serious run for the White House as someone has of winning the Big Prize lottery without buying a ticket. Carson has currency for only one reason. He’s black and can be trotted out to make those ridiculous digs about Obama. He can say what a big pack of GOP ultra-conservatives, and unreconstructed bigots want to say about Obama, but it just sounds better coming out of Carson’s mouth. The GOP has turned this tact into a studied art with black conservatives such as Clarence Thomas. But Carson makes far better copy than Thomas. Because unlike Thomas, he actually speaks and when he does he'll say something just ludicrous enough to get attention.
In the Obama era, the GOP has worked overtime to tout, cultivate, prop up, and showcase a motley collection of black GOP potential candidates for a scattering of offices. The aim is two-fold, to find that someone who can have just enough luster and media appeal to be a counter balance to Obama while at the same time allowing the party to thump its chest to prove that it’s not racist.
Carson seemingly fits that double bill; actually triple bill. He gets even more attention for the GOP. But more importantly, the notion of Carson as a presidential candidate touches a deep, dark, and throbbing pulse among legions of ultra-conservatives who think that Obama and many Democrats are communists, gays are immoral, and that the healthcare reform law is exactly what Carson has likened it in a much tossed around quip to "slavery," meaning the tyrannical intrusion by big government into American’s lives. Mainstream GOP leaders can't utter this idiocy. They must always give appearance that they are above the dirt, mud, and hate-slinging fray. So they leave it to a well-paid stalking horse like Carson to do their dirty work for them.
But let’s assume for a moment Carson is the real presidential deal. The road to the 2016 GOP presidential nomination again will be a knock down drag out, bruising low intensity war. The names that have already staked out turf for that battle are deeply embedded in the GOP political hierarchy, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and a cluster of popular GOP governors. They have money, means, and a dedicated entrenched following. They have wooed and courted the key state party leaders and potential party delegates that will make or break a candidate in the key party primaries later next year. Their work has been on-going, and it requires a team of professional, connected, and financially stout party officials to do the hard leg work required.
Then there is the gauntlet of GOP presidential debates. These are equally vital for a potential candidate to prove that he or she has a firm grasp of the big ticket policy issues; immigration reform, health care, education, taxation, jobs and the economy, and foreign policy concerns. Who can forget the moment in the November 2011 GOP debate when Perry put his foot in his mouth when he couldn’t name the three agencies of government that he vowed to eliminate if elected president? His candidacy quickly was yanked off life support. A well-place sound-bite, or pithy remark, won’t cut it here. There has to be real substance behind the answers that serious presidential candidates must and are expected to give in the heat of a debate, in interviews, and in policy speeches to groups of potential supporters.
Carson’s supposed backers see all of this as a plus. That's he is the old self-made, man on the white horse, citizen non-politician patriot who simply wants to unite the nation sans hard political nostrums. This won’t fly in part because of the hard wired encrusted political insider dominance of the presidential vetting process and in bigger part because Carson is nothing more than a curiosity good for a few more spots on the TV talk show circuit. This is just enough to insure the silliness of Carson will continue.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson