A lot has been made recently about the claims of one Dr. Ben Carson. The claims this venerated new leader among the Republican dwarves has made include that he has no affiliation with Mannatech (demonstrably false) and saying so is “propaganda,” his idea that the pyramids were granaries and not pharaoh tombs, and lately, his past claims to have been offered a scholarship to West Point (again, demonstrably false).
The press dutifully researches both and finds that, yes, Carson is at the very least prevaricating. He has an extensive relationship with Mannatech, including endorsing their products and also speaking for a fee at a conference or some such at their corporate headquarters. He also was never offered a “scholarship” to West Point. Cadets are given a tuition-free education, with all expenses paid. They also have to be endorsed by their congressman or the Defense Secretary and go through an application process. After that process, if they are deemed accepted, they get the offer to become a cadet. It works that way for all service academies.
Carson has long claimed he was offered a full scholarship but turned it down because he was set on being a doctor, not a soldier (though they do send their best and brightest to medical school but that’s another thing altogether). Being generous, he probably misspoke; had he gone through that process just mentioned, he likely would have become a cadet because he was an ROTC leader and, let’s be frank here, African-American when few African-American officers populated the services. He probably meant that he was assured that if he applied, he’d be accepted. But the point here is that the service academies do not offer scholarships and do not offer anything until and unless one goes through the application process.
But he persists, to this day, in claiming to be offered a scholarship. Typically, he’s insisting even harder (“doubling down” in the new political lingo) that he was, in fact, offered a scholarship. Again, he wasn’t but let’s move on.
Bernie Sanders has entered the fray. In defending Carson, Sanders said that he thinks we need to focus on the issues and not what someone may have said or done some 30 or 40 years ago. America deserves a discussion on the very serious issues facing the country, and not looking back into someone’s personal history.
I’ll go along with that to an extent. We do need a serious discussion on the issues facing the United States. Too many issues to count and list have to be considered by everyone.
But what I don’t agree with is the idea that we should ignore Carson’s foolish statements and turn instead to other issues. We need to examine his claims even more closely. We need to look at his claims even more closely because of who he is (Republican frontrunner) and the office he seeks (the most powerful political office in the world). He has, in fact, demonstrated a record of false statements that reflect greatly on his character and his suitability for office. When one makes the outrageous claims he has, claims unsubstantiated by the historical record (see pyramids above), or misstates offers made (see West Point above), or outright falsehoods about a profitable business relationship (see Mannatech above) we really need to investigate those claims.
It is not digging up meaningless facts about someone’s past. We’re not looking into whether someone did or did not blaze one up as a collegian. We’re not looking into whether someone did or did not have premarital sex or whether someone did or did not attend a specific church whose beliefs are not mainstream.
We’re talking about repeated false claims. If we can’t trust someone to speak truthfully about his own past, “youthful indiscretions” aside, how can we trust that person to speak for our nation if elected? Can we trust anything that man (or woman) says if much of the narrative about his own life is demonstrably untrue?
No. The fact is that these things matter. What one says and does when pursuing the highest office in the nation matters. It matters a lot. We have a need to know the truth and journalists have a responsibility to report that truth, irrespective of whether that truth is welcomed by the one speaking the original falsehoods.
Bernie Sanders has it wrong. He’s right when he says we need to focus on the issues, but the issues can become the personalities involved. He is desperately wrong on the news surrounding Ben Carson.
And we have a right to know the truth behind the good Dr.’s statements.