Colson: He’s not president, but Ben Carson is still with us
Hit and Run
It’s the U.S. presidency, curse the luck, so despite a disinclination that borders on disgust, I guess I’ve got to take a look at how our new top dog is doing in his cabinet picks and other exercises in political destruction.
We’ve all noticed, of course, that most of the mainstream media is trying to perform a tricky balancing act, portraying the more bizarre statements of President-elect Donald Trump as more or less normal and completely ignoring his performance during the primary season and the general election wrestling match as if it never happened.
Which clearly is the way Trump wants it, so maybe all these news outlets see themselves as simply caving into the onset of reality.
Me, I don’t think I can ever attribute any amount of normalcy to anything Trump does. My memory is still pretty good, my sense of outrage is easily tapped, and Trump seems more than happy to furnish us with new examples of his perfidy every week.
I can’t simply let it slide, for example, that Trump seems to see no hypocrisy in his choices of Washington, D.C., insiders for his cabinet and other jobs, not to mention some of the very people he eviscerated during the bloody circus of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who is being nominated to head up the Housing and Urban Development department (HUD, for short), is a good example of the inexplicable nature of Trump’s appointments and nominations.
During the primaries, Trump mercilessly made fun of Carson’s slow deliberations and equally slow delivery of some pretty out-there statements on just about everything, such as his comparison of homosexuality to bestiality as something that can’t be allowed, or his likening Obama voters with clueless Germans who let Hitler gain power.
While speaking to a group from the Republican Jewish Coalition, for instance, Carson repeatedly referred to Hamas, the Palestinian militant organization, as “hummus,” which as we all know is a somewhat tasty spread made primarily from chick peas, olive oil, garlic and other stuff.
Of course, since there wasn’t a spell-checked version of his talk available, we can’t be sure he didn’t mean “humus,” which is the organic component of soil, made up of decomposed leaves and other plant material.
Whatever he meant, it was clearly a source of either amusement or bemusement to those in the audience, depending perhaps on whether they were vegetarians, gardeners or simply dumbfounded and wondering about how this guy could ever be our president.
Carson’s performances in the primary debates, in fact, earned him a reputation for being not only slow, but deeply misinformed about a host of matters that, as president, he might be expected to deal with.
Then there was the time when he said the Affordable Care Act (derisively known as Obamacare) was “the worst thing that’s happened in this nation since slavery.”
How a black man in the United States in the 21st century could equate the Affordable Care Act with slavery is beyond me, but it clearly shows that he is a few bottles short of a six-pack when it comes to understanding the history of being black in the U.S.
And how this man could possibly understand the vagaries and difficulties of living in HUD-subsidized housing, for people of any color or background, is utterly incomprehensible.
There also is the fact that Carson himself recently said he would not accept a cabinet appointment from Trump, because he felt he lacked the kind of governmental, management experience needed to run a big federal bureaucracy.
Which, of course, prompted widespread speculation about how in hell he ever thought he could be president, but that’s a topic for another day.
Over the weekend, I guess he had second thoughts (which begs the question, can there be second thoughts when there was no real first thought to begin with?) about his reluctance to accept a post from Trump. However it came about, Carson is now on tap for the job of overseeing this nation’s commitment to make sure everyone has someplace to live, something about which Carson is not likely to know very much.
Oh, sure, he was born and raised in Detroit, which might have guaranteed him an immersive acquaintance with substandard housing, although he apparently was raised more middle class than lower class.
I heard an interview on National Public Radio with a man touted as a “close friend” and “adviser” to Carson, and was nearly drowned by the shower of glittering platitudes that came out of the man’s mouth. But after that dousing with deliberately unrevealing clap trap, I was no nearer to knowing what Carson might think about or do as HUD secretary than I was before.
Furthermore, while I have no idea what he really thinks about the department he is expected to run, I do know that Carson has been widely mentioned as being hostile to the “safety net” concept that underlies everything from Social Security to HUD to welfare and unemployment insurance. He thinks social welfare support should be left to the churches or the states or somebody — anybody besides the federal government.
Does that mean that we can expect HUD, which for decades has been the neglected step-sister in the president’s cabinet and is chronically underfunded and under-supported in countless ways, to become even more neglected and ineffective?
Of course, if that were to happen, it wouldn’t matter to the angry, mostly white men and women who foolishly voted for Trump, because a lot of them seem to be hoping that everyone who is not white will simply die quickly, move out of the country to avoid deportation or in some other way become “not a problem” for those same white folks.
When that particular pipe dream is not realized, well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how that pans out.
And now we can rest assured that Ben Carson will be on hand to explain it all.
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