Ruth Marcus gets it right: Last Wednesday's GOP debate began with human history's dumbest known question.
Carl Quintanilla tossed it out, then let each hopeful expound:
QUINTANILLA (10/28/15): A lot to get to tonight. So let's get started. This first is an open question.A few of the candidates almost pretended to answer the question as asked. Most of them simply delivered the opening statements the debate format hadn't allowed.
This series of debates is essentially a job interview with the American people. And in any job interview, you know this: you get asked, "what's your biggest weakness?"
So in 30 seconds, without telling us that you try too hard or that you're a perfectionist, what is your biggest weakness and what are you doing to address it? We'll go left to right. Governor Kasich, 30 seconds.
Eight minutes were burned in this fashion. Inevitably, Candidate Carson made the strangest statement. Here's what he actually said:
CARSON: Probably in terms of the applying for the job of president, a weakness would be not really seeing myself in that position until hundreds of thousands of people began to tell me that I needed to do it...His biggest weakness? He hadn't realized he was the world's greatest man until hundreds of thousands of people told him! That was right before he swam the Yellow River.
Candidate Carson is strange. If it turns out that he's a doubletalk expert running some kind of weird experiment, will anyone who has followed this race really be surprised?
By some measures, Carson is leading the GOP race. By other measures, he routinely seems to have no idea what he's talking about.
Has there ever been a major candidate who was anywhere near this incoherent? We thought Ruth Marcus got it right in her column this Sunday:
MARCUS (11/1/15): Where Trump craves attention, Carson, curiously, seems to flinch from it. Even when pitched softballs, he veers quickly from substance to off-topic platitudes.That wouldn't be our top example of Candidate Carson's incoherence. But judging from that answer, when drug companies "profiteer" by "dramatically raising the price of life-saving drugs," that means we have too much regulation.
Consider this answer about drug companies profiteering on life-saving medicines, reproduced here in its incoherent entirety:
“Well, there is no question that some people go overboard when it comes to trying to make profits, and they don’t take into consideration the American people. What we have to start thinking about, as leaders, particularly in government, is what can we do for the average American? And you think about the reasons that we’re having such difficulty right now with our job market.
“Well, the average small manufacturer, whatever they’re manufacturing, drugs or anything, if they have less than 50 employees, the average cost in terms of regulations is $34,000 per employee. Makes it a whole lot easier for them to want to go somewhere else.
“So what we’re going to have to start doing instead of, you know, picking on this group or this group, is we’re going to have to have a major reduction in the regulatory influence that is going on. The government is not supposed to be in every part of our lives, and that is what is causing the problem.”
Paging Dr. Carson, the question was about pharmaceutical companies charging astronomical prices for medications. That’s the government’s fault?
"Thank you, Dr. Carson," CNBC's Jim Cramer said.
Marcus is on the right path discussing Carson's "incoherence." Last Wednesday night, the moderators kept thanking Carson as he finished his peregrinations. At some point, pundits need to ask the obvious question and ask it directly:
Does this person have any idea what he's talking about?
CNBC's three moderators, along with their three guest moderators, kept looking away from the chaos last week. Carson is highly incoherent. Within this astonishing GOP field, the problem spreads out from there.
Other examples of weakness: Candidate Cruz's biggest weakness is the fact that he's a fighter.
Still, next to Candidate Carson, we thought Candidate Rubio easily had the most ridiculous weakness:
RUBIO (10/28/15): Thank you for that question. I would begin by saying that I'm not sure it's a weakness, but I do believe that I share a sense of optimism for America's future that, today, is eroding from too many of our people.His optimism may be a weakness! Frankly, he isn't sure.