SYNDICATED COLUMN: Ben Carson: Please Believe Me When I Say I’m Psycho

To echo the current ad campaign by Geico, politicians lie. It’s what they do.

Like when Donald Trump says he’s going to make Mexico pay for a border wall — ain’t never gonna happen. Hillary knew she was lying when she claimed that NSA contractor Edward Snowden was protected by federal whistleblower laws (those are only for federal employees).

Probably because he’s ahead in the polls, attention is currently focused on Ben Carson’s distant relationship with the truth, most interestingly his story of getting offered a scholarship to West Point. It’s a ridiculous tale given the fact that many young Americans try to get into the military academies (I applied to Annapolis), so a lot of people know the real deal. If you gain acceptance after a grueling application process — I remember a battery of physicals that took all day and having to obtain a sponsorship from a member of Congress — tuition, room and board is free. But you’re committed to serving as a junior officer for six years after graduation.

By far the weirdest of Carson’s alleged fibs — the story itself and the media’s reaction to it — is the soft-spoken-to-the-point-of-stoned physician’s description of himself in his 1990 autobiography as a violent young man with a “pathological temper.”

I haven’t read “Gifted Hands” and likely never will, but CNN has: “The violent episodes he has detailed in his book, in public statements and in interviews, include punching a classmate in the face with his hand wrapped around a lock, leaving a bloody three-inch gash in the boy’s forehead; attempting to attack his own mother with a hammer following an argument over clothes; hurling a large rock at a boy, which broke the youth’s glasses and smashed his nose; and, finally, thrusting a knife at the belly of his friend with such force that the blade snapped when it luckily struck a belt buckle covered by the boy’s clothes.”

“I was trying to kill somebody,” Carson has said about his inept act of attempted murder in ninth grade, at age 14.

“CNN was unable to independently confirm any of the incidents,” Scott Glover and Maeve Reston reported. The network tracked down several of Carson’s friends and former classmates. None remembered Carson as out of control or violent.

Stipulated: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Minor changes in details — “camping knife” or “pocketknife,” is there a difference? — don’t change the basic facts of the story. Just because CNN can’t corroborate Carson’s stabbing attempt doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Maybe they didn’t talk to the right friends or classmates. Carson may well have told the truth about this. That’s not the point.

The point is two-fold:

First — whether Carson told the truth or lied — why is he telling this story now, while running for president? (Among other times, he talked about it at a campaign appearance in September.) A history as a deranged juvenile delinquent isn’t something to brag about when you’re asking voters to give you nuclear launch codes.

I understand the self-confessional bit in his bio. Memoirs that hide the author’s flaws suck. “Gifted Hands” came out 25 years ago, long before Carson thought about politics. But he’s still talking about trying to stab a dude for, by his own account, no good reason.

Yeah, it’s a redemption narrative. After that, he found God (in a bathroom!) and got soooo calm.

I say it’s creepy.

Unlike my September 2001 opposition to invading Afghanistan, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that I don’t want someone with a predilection for psychotic outbursts running the country.

That’s assuming he’s telling the truth about it. Really, truly, I hope he’s lying.

Which is my second point: Carson’s media critics are in the strange position of accusing him of not being an attempted murderer. Can it be that violence has become so normalized in American society that viciousness is now a requirement for high office?

Reporter: “Is it true, Dr. Carson, that you didn’t try to kill someone for fun?”

Dr. Carson: “Absolutely not. I swear swear swear that I did try to kill the guy, and that it would have been fun, and God damn that belt buckle!”

The way this is going, Carson will soon have to produce the original long-form version of his victims’ death certificates in order to continue as a viable presidential candidate.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for, is the author of the new book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)


18 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Ben Carson: Please Believe Me When I Say I’m Psycho

  1. I’m totally bewildered by what’s going on with the conservatives. At work two who are usually going at me because I’m liberal are lately going at each other because one likes Trump, the other Carson. These are otherwise intelligent people, the Carson guy is an evangelical and has no problem believing that God cured Carson of his temper.

  2. Ultimately, Ben Carson is toxic. ANYTHING he endorses will suffer from that endorsement. I heard recently that he promoted a “New-World-Order” meme of understanding reality. Now watch as the corporate media’s talking heads deride all NWO-confirming points-of-view.

    Carson is a one-trick pony.


  3. politicians lie. It’s what they do

    Carson looks like the logical next step.

    Reagan was an actor who knew he was playing a role. Still he would get into character enough to be believable.

    Bush junior looked like he would actually come to believe his persona as his real being. The neo-cons around him even had this quasi Marxist notion about shaping their own reality.

    It seems Carson actually believes his own intuitions to be real. As in “I got a feeling the bible’s true. So this guy, Joseph, made the Pharaoh store all a couple of years worth of grain. Figures those structures need to be somewhere. I can see the Pyramids. So the pyramids must be those granaries.”

    Normally even rosy-eyed literalists would be much more careful to not box themselves in: Couldn’t they have built their granaries out of timber, indeed, why built for eternity when the prophecy spoke of 7 years? Then there is no shortage of ancient huge structures without connection to biblical stories, so what if the pyramids aren’t either? etc. etc. etc.

    Still the thought to revisit this nonsense just doesn’t come to mind – total non-starter.. While we expect politicians to just make stuff up, we feel that there should be some reasoning behind the fabrications. Even the Donald comes across as evaluating his drivel from time to time, knowing how far too go, and having the good sense to quietly walk away from stuff that’s too much of a liability.

    Thus Carson comes across even more authentic, saying things as they are – to him, anyway. This also makes him seem less adversarial as confrontations require some inkling of another version of events.

    • “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

      • That’s the quote.

        Yet at least they were aware that those creative actions would take some actual work (while radically underestimating everyone else’s agency – from other world powers to neighbourhood militias in occupied countries…).

        Even the neo-cons (“the crazies”) begin to look somewhat sane compared to the new flock of candidates…

      • While man can and does shape his reality, our control only extends so far. The neocon exudes hubris. With the exceptions of Trump, Paul, and maybe Cruz, the candidates are still neocons. Neocon is about as crazy as it gets. Perhaps Huckabee and Carson top the Bush Jr. era ones. Maybe Dubya was right to believe he was his role–after all, we become the sum of our actions. We are what we do.

        I sure would like to see Ron Paul, Jim Webb, Jesse Ventura, or even Arnold Schwarzenegger as VP.

  4. Trump broke the attendance record in my little town’s convention center, beating out Elton John. So packed that plenty of us were sitting on stairs. The Donald hit at Carson a bit for being nuts. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Have you? He says he tried to hit his mother with a hammer and his polls go up!” He saved most of his attacks for Hillary and Rubio. There were even some blacks there supporting Trump!

    A token group of 10 Bernie protesters were outside. 9 of them were ugly young girls. The 10th was an old hippie. It was like they were a caricature of themselves. I overhear one lady, “This is what happens when we send our kids to college.” Hysterical. My Aunt and her daughters were there. I asked them, “Doesn’t Trump hate women?” They gave me the most priceless looks of perplexity! Some people just don’t watch or read enough liberal news.

    • > I overhear one lady, “This is what happens when we send our kids to college.” Hysterical.

      Absolutely! Perhaps not for the same reason you’re thinking …


      • To me it was funny ’cause it’s true. Far from places of unbiased higher learning, colleges are now Marxist churches, churning out little Leftists. Ayn Rand warned they were already becoming that way over 60 years ago. It’s hard for a non-left-wing professor to survive there when nearly all his peers and superiors would like to kick him out.

        Some of us are actually young enough to have experienced college recently. What would a geezer like you know?

      • > What would a geezer like you know?

        I know that ‘liberal’ means ‘open to new ideas’ while ‘conservative’ means ‘adverse to new ideas.’

        I know that new ideas are what colleges are for.

        I know John Stuart Mill’s famous quote about stupid people.

        … and therefore I know I would have clapped & laughed at the lady’s observation. She’s absolutely correct, and doesn’t realize it any more than you do.

        btw – I prefer expensive shots (of single malt scotch)

      • Liberalism was originally about free markets and small unintrusive government. You know, liberty. Many decades ago, the Left co-opted the term, and so, classical liberals began calling themselves libertarians. Now the Left is co-opting libertarianism. “Left-libertarian.” “Libertarian socialist.” At this point we aren’t even conservative. We very much want change. We are reactionary.

        Btw, conservatives are simply cautious of change while progressives launch right into it often without considering unintended consequences. I can see the kind of society you’d like. Change, change, change–all the time. Everything. Total chaos. Conserve or preserve nothing because if you did, you’d be a WINGNUT and that’s bad!

        Society couldn’t even function without some conservative minded people interested in protecting its structure. You realize that if you could ever achieve your hazy, dope-fueled dream of a perfect utopia that then you would become the conservative, guarding the status quo.

        And liberals don’t have any new ideas. They’re all rehashed failures. Get real.

      • And indoctrination, i.e. teaching ideology as fact is hardly simply introducing “new ideas.”

  5. I’m guessing that some reasonable fraction of surgeons, especially specialty surgeons like brain, are sociopaths. And don’t assume that he’s some kind of genius since he went to Yale, I went to an Ivy League school, and there are plenty of folks there who are book smart and nothing else, very good at reproducing what their teachers want and terrible at thinking on their own.

  6. I read that the Nation suggested that Carson is unique in that he seems to be the only neurosurgeon (would you let this man near you brain with a scalpel?) who has been able to give himself a lobotomy.

  7. I think it’s a bit more than just creepy. I think he’s a sociopath that knows he can manipulate a certain amount of people who are evangelistic and willing to buy into his “stories”, and after seeing and listening to him talk, I wouldn’t want him as a doctor either. This guy is crazy and untrustworthy. President? That’s just plain nuts!

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