Supplemental: The incoherence of Chairman Ben!


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.

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.
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.

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.


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?
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.

"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.


  1. Pundits and voters should ask whether Carson has any idea what he's talking about. It isn't the moderator's job to do that.

    1. @3:48

      Too bad CNN's Anderson Cooper and fellow moderators never asked the Dem candidates how they would pay for all their "free" programs." It's the job of liberal moderators to broach that subject?

    2. Carson's views explained:

  2. HRC's optimism regarding Benghazi emails may be a weakness. This may curdle Loudmilk.

    "Tripoli embassy to Hillary: Don’t push the video angle on the Benghazi attack"

    "Relatively few have even mentioned the inflammatory video. So if we post messaging about the video specifically, we may draw unwanted attention to it. And it is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest which escalated into violence. It is our opinion that in our messaging, we want to distinguish, not conflate, the events in other countries with this well-planned attack by militant extremists. I have discussed this with [redacted] and he shares PAS’s view.

    1. Speaking of incoherence ....

    2. Cicero - don't worry about that report specifically and Benghazi in general. Waste of time. Only leads to more suffering. Have a good one man.

    3. @4:44

      Nobody enjoys watching HRC suffer.....Well, maybe Valerie Jarrett's good buddy Mika Brzezinski.

    4. cicero lost this debate, but he's in denial. go easy on him. it'll take awhile for him to work through the various stages of grief. and lest any newcomers think cicero has a case against Clinton, i would recommend checking out my and cicero's exchange towards the bottom of the comments section of the following:

    5. @Loudmilk

      Check your sell by date. You are still dairy, but in the sour cream section. Even the State Department that HRC ran knew HRC was going to pony up the YouTube video for political reasons. That she deliberately ignored their pleas speaks volumes about HRC's perfidy.

    6. How stupid (or is it lying?) can one be not to understand that opinions and guesses that could not be identified as factual flew around after Benghazi just like in any other tragic event? Look at the Sinai Russian plane crash a few days ago. I'm sure a "cicero" could go around in a few years claiming everyone who, in the end, leaned toward a later disproved explanation was lying. That would of course be disgusting conduct.

    7. @10:14

      How stupid (or is it lying?) can one be to understand that opinions and guesses that could not be identified as factual are not to be presented by the Obama Administration for political aggrandizement.

      JAY CARNEY: "And my point was that we don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this was not in reaction to the film."

      If you believe Carney required more information before he could fix his mouth to say it might be a pre-planned terrorist attack on Benghazi compound, how is it he had no trouble promoting the single story that it was a spontaneous protest in response to a video. What happened to wait for more information before throwing out any scenario?

      Any skeptical person would say to Carney, you have your talking point backasswards. The White House is going with the protest/video story when they have zero concrete evidence to support that the attack on the Benghazi compound was due to a YouTube video or that there were any protests in Benghazi. All the information that came in to The White House that day in fact make zero mention of a protest.

  3. Is this the same Somerby who thinks saying "I didn’t have an involvement with them" and at the same time asserting "I did a couple speeches for them. I did speeches for other people. They were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them" is not dishonest? He certainly wouldn't say it is lying if you want to be obsessively honest. Did he say it was incoherent? We are not sure. But we do know Ruth Marcus has some miles on her between college and the present point in her career.

  4. I love Bob so it hurts me to say this, but he jumped the shark a tiny bit in my book when he compared Krugman to McCarthy. I mean seriously. And to do it over and over and over, without even much analysis to base it one. And Bob, if you're reading, here is a more objective approach to judging the moderators than just using a bunch of derogatory words to describe them:

    1. Bob already read what was at your link and decided to mischaracterize it thusly:

      "Those Republican candidates' budget plans are the craziest in American history. What explains Ezra's support for the trio of flyweights who utterly failed to examine that state of affairs?"

      You may love Somerby, but if someone does not agree with him, Somerby quite often mischaraterizes what they say as providing support for someone he just savaged.

    2. We’re not saying that Krugman is “wrong” about those correlations or about that predictor. We’re saying that, from our point of view, this is a shaky way to play golf.

    3. Bob, you ol' so-n-so! Then just explain exactly where he goes wrong and explain why it's "a shaky way to play golf." The McCarthy smear was over the top and in its own way "McCarthyistic" (yes, I know, now I've done it). More explanation, less denigration. @10:18, I'm not sure if Bob saw both of Klein's articles -- I assume he saw the 1st in which Klein said Cruz had the highlight of the night, but was nevertheless wrong. The 2nd one, which I linked to above, compares the 1st six questions from all of the debates so far.

    4. So you are saying Bob took a fuzzy shot at Ezra Klein by not specifying which Vox article he referred to? How slippery.

      If it was the first then look at what Ezra did to tick off Blogger Somerby:

      "And the problem for Republicans is that substantive questions about their policy proposals end up sounding like hostile attacks — but that's because the policy proposals are ridiculous, not because the questions are actually unfair.

      The Republican primary has thus far been a festival of outlandish policy. The candidates seem to be competing to craft the tax plan that gives the largest tax cut to the rich while blowing the biggest hole in the deficit (a competition that, as of tonight, Ted Cruz appears to be winning). And the problem is when you ask about those plans, simply stating the facts of the policies sounds like you're leveling a devastating attack."

      Klein does a much better job than Somerby of discussing what is ridiculous about the tax plans. Not only that, he actually demonstrates, rather than disapears the fact that the "trio of flyweights" asked the candidates about that and shows how bad the answers were.

      The fact is, if Krugman can be accused of engaging in a McCarthistic attack on the Republicans, Somerby can be accused of engaging in a Cruzist attack on these moderators. With a little dab of Alex Castellanos anti-affirmative action thrown in for free.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I can't wait to see Somerby's work on CNN's story this morning that they can't find any of Ben Carson's contemporaries from Detroit who remember his violent angry youth before getting in touch with Jesus.

    It sounds like this is the start of the War on Carson and Bob Somerby has shown mixed signals about what side he is on.

    1. I think some journalist needs to find the youth whose enormous belt buckle saved his life when attacked by Carson's angry knife. Does this person in fact exist? Or perhaps he is conveniently dead, a victim of ghetto life.

    2. Efforts by CNN to get the belt buckle wearer's full name from either Dr. Carson or his campaign were unsuccessful.

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