Saturday, November 07, 2015

How Badly Will The Lies That Ben Carson And Marco Rubio Have Told About Their Life Stories Hurt Them Politically?


OK, so everyone knows that the brainwashed Republican base, which has spent entirely too much time listening to psychopaths on Hate Talk radio and watching Fox "News," is not interested in facts or in objective truth. But what about when their candidates actually admit being liars? I guess we'll find out soon, since right-wing fave Ben Carson has started cracking up... and admitting to some of his lies. Recall that at the last GOP debate, PolitiFact checked 16 of Dr. Carson's statements and did not find one to be true or even mostly true. 3 were deemed half true, 4 were found to be mostly false, 7 were just flat out false (lies) and 2 rated the dread "pants on fire" designation. Friday, Kyle Cheney, reporting for Politico helped break the story about the Carson/West Point sack of lies.
Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted, in a response to an inquiry from Politico, that a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The academy has occupied a central place in Carson’s tale for years. According to a story told in Carson’s book, Gifted Hands, the then-17 year old was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That meeting, according to Carson’s telling, was followed by a “full scholarship” to the military academy.

West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission.

“In 1969, those who would have completed the entire process would have received their acceptance letters from the Army Adjutant General,” said Theresa Brinkerhoff, a spokeswoman for the academy. She said West Point has no records that indicate Carson even began the application process. “If he chose to pursue (the application process) then we would have records indicating such,” she said.

When presented with this evidence, Carson’s campaign conceded the story was false.

...This admission comes as serious questions about other points of fact in Carson’s personal narrative are questioned, including the seminal episode in which he claimed to have attempted to stab a close friend. Similarly, details have emerged that cast doubt on the nature of Carson’s encounter with one of the most prominent military men of that era.

The West Point spokeswoman said it is certainly possible Carson talked with Westmoreland, and perhaps the general even encouraged him to apply to West Point. However, she said the general would have explained the benefits of a West Point education without guaranteeing him entry.

An application to West Point begins with a nomination by a member of Congress or another prominent government or military official. After that, a rigorous vetting process begins. If offered admission, all costs are covered; indeed there are no “full scholarships,” per se.

In his popular book Gifted Hands, Carson says he excelled in his ROTC program at Detroit’s Southwestern High School, earning the respect of his superiors-- just a couple years after anger problems led him to try to murder a friend. He attained the rank of second lieutenant by his senior year of high school and became the student leader of the city’s ROTC programs.

In May of his senior year, he was chosen to march in the city’s Memorial Day parade.

“I felt so proud, my chest bursting with ribbons and braids of every kind. To make it more wonderful, we had important visitors that day. Two soldiers who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Viet Nam were present,” he wrote. “More exciting to me, General William Westmoreland (very prominent in the Viet Nam war) attended with an impressive entourage. Afterward, Sgt. Hunt”-- his high school ROTC director-- “introduced me to General Westmoreland, and I had dinner with him and the Congressional Medal winners. Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”

But, according to records of Westmoreland’s schedule that were provided by the U.S. Army, the general did not visit Detroit around Memorial Day in 1969 or have dinner with Carson. In fact, the general’s records suggest he was in Washington that day and played tennis at 6:45 p.m.

“That position allowed me the chance to meet four-star general William Westmoreland, who had commanded all American forces in Vietnam before being promoted to Army Chief of Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.,” he wrote. “I also represented the Junior ROTC at a dinner for Congressional Medal of Honor winners, marched at the front of Detroit’s Memorial Day parade as head of an ROTC contingent, and was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”

Carson has said he turned down the supposed offer of admission because he knew he wanted to be a doctor and attending West Point would have required four years of military service after graduation.

Carson is getting better known to the general public outside the far right-- and that's not going to be good for his presidential campaign, although it might be good for Trump's. Carson, apparently, has lived his life, quite successfully, as a compulsive liar. People who are hearing about him for the first time must be scratching their heads-- and scratching him off as a possibility. Last night, the NY Times seemed as exasperated as everyone else with his changing stories and cascades of lies in the twists and turns of his West Point story and his childhood violence, which seem to have utterly blotted out the crazy pyramid silliness on... could that have been just 2 days ago? The Times wrote that he had "abandoned his gentle manner on Friday night and delivered a powerful public scolding of the news media that has begun to question his celebrated biography. In the process, he turned what has become an almost robotic ritual for candidates under attack-- the live and often defensive news conference-- into an aggressive confrontation, and at times interrogation, of the reporters’ motives and methods. 'Don’t lie,' he told them, interrupting a journalist’s question... 'The American people are waking up to your games.'" Or, maybe the American people, at least those who have heard of him, are waking up to his games. Now no one will be able to discuss Ben Carson without asking whether or not he's insane and a complete crackpot unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy (which may actually be why so many delusional Republican primary voters appear to be so enamored of him).

Politicians routinely lie about their personal stories in ways that help portray them as somehow inspirational or special. In concocting his own heroic biography, Marco Rubio, for example, always claimed his parents escaped from the clutches of Fidel Castro's Communist regime. Eventually someone pointed out that when Rubio's parents arrived, in 1956, Cuban political refugees were fleeing the U.S.-backed right-wing dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, whose fascist regime wasn't toppled by Castro until 1959, years after the Rubios were settled in America. Just like many of the immigrants from Latin America Rubio is demonizing as part of his campaign today, his own parents were simply economic refugees, looking for better opportunities for their future and their family. Late in October, 2011, Republican operative David Frum published a post by Russian immigrant Andrew Pavelyev on why Rubio's false biography matters.

The more I think about the Rubio scandal, the more I am troubled by it. It’s not just that having lived in the Soviet Union for a quarter century, I find it offensive when people falsely claim themselves or their families to have been victims of Communist oppression. I am really concerned about the “Palinization” of the political right.

If you are a politician caught in a lie, I want you to take it like a man, show some humility, admit the lie in a straightforward manner and apologize as sincerely as you can, then just move on (unless some more drastic step-- e.g. resignation-- is warranted).

In this particular case a 50-word statement from Sen. Rubio would have sufficed and the whole scandal could have been a one day affair. Instead the senator went on the attack, continued lying, feigned outrage, accused the fact checkers of lying and insulting his family (although at the same time he quietly rewrote his official biography on the Senate website).

What’s much worse, conservative media immediately jumped to his defense and joined him in his attack on the Washington Post. They ridiculously claimed that the only reason for the article was the leftist media’s fear of Hispanic conservatives and that the Post would never have done that to a liberal (at the same time they cheerfully reported that the very same newspaper had just given Joe Biden its Four Pinocchios award for lying about potential effects of Republican opposition to the Obama jobs bill). So you see, Marco Rubio is a victim here, not a perpetrator.

The Right has to break with the relatively recent tradition of treating any inconvenient facts as outrageous attacks. It also has to come to grips with the fact that one of its rising stars has lied about an important matter and keeps on lying and ponder what all this may tell us about his character.

First of all, we need to recognize that Rubio lied. Until more than a day after the publication of the story, his biography on the Senate website contained this sentence: ”In 1971, Marco was born in Miami to Cuban-born parents who came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.” It is not an embellishment or exaggeration-- it’s a lie. There’s no way to spin it. At the time his parents came to America Castro was living in exile in Mexico. He had not even started his takeover yet. In his counter-attack Rubio suggests that he made an honest mistake rather than lied: “My understanding of my parents’ journey has always been based on what they told me about events that took place more than 50 years ago-- more than a decade before I was born. What they described was not a timeline, or specific dates.” With all due respect, this tortured explanation is itself a lie.

I can tell you from personal experience that if you come to America as an immigrant you never forget the moment. I immigrated two decades ago. My first child was born just two weeks ago. But you can bet that when he’s old enough to understand dates he’ll know the “timeline” and ”specific dates.” And Marco Rubio expects me to believe that his parents never told him anything and that he never ever was curious enough to ask them when they immigrated or how long they have lived in America?

Furthermore, the Cuban revolution was the central event for his family and families all around him when he was growing up. That event was constantly talked about, and Rubio himself admits that when he claims having a deep understanding of what it means to lose one’s country (never mind its total irrelevance to American politics). Yet he never asked his parents what it was like to live under Fidel Castro, or how long they lived under him, or what it was like to leave Cuba at that time, or any other question that might possibly give him a clue that his parents never actually lived in Communist Cuba?!

We also need to recognize that it was a substantial lie. Rubio is often called “Republican Obama.” There are in fact many similarities between them. Each of them had a very thin record of actual accomplishment before getting elected to his current office. Neither of them has ever been a policy wonk. Neither is very effective in office. Each of them got nominated thanks to the same lucky break: even though a stronger and better qualified rival was favored to win the nomination, a significant segment of the party base was very eager to punish that rival for some highly symbolic ideological transgression (voting for the Iraq war in case of Hillary Clinton, giving Obama a hug in case of Charlie Crist).

But the most important common factor is identity politics. Obama would not have become a senator, let alone president if his father had been a graduate student from, say, Switzerland rather than Kenya. Rubio would not have become the Florida House speaker (especially at such a young age), let alone senator if his parents had immigrated from Ireland rather than Cuba.
Ted Cruz's vicious PAC is a good representation of his ugly soul and fascist id-- and a way for him to communicate with his other, richer SuperPAC without breaking the law. With a small media buy ($10,000), Courageous Conservatives PAC went on the attack against Rubio today. They're the smaller of his SuperPACs and they feel the big one with all the money, Keep The Promise I SuperPAC, is too wimpy to get the job done. (The two SuperPACs are now at war with each other.) Here's Courageous Conservatives' first ad, playing now in Iowa:

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At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone actually verified that Carson was a neurosurgeon as he claims.

In the last 48 hours it seems that about 10 other "positive" things he has said about himself turned out to be fabrications.

IF he was truly a neurosurgeon I'd expect that august discipline is a bit annoyed that Carson has proven one needs virtually no intelligence to do "brain surgery."

John Puma


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