There are two types of conservatives, suggested Salon’s Simon Maloy on Friday: the ones consumed by “spittle-flecked outrage at the Kenyan socialist in the Oval Office,” and the ones whose ideology is more complex. The first group contains a lot of Ben Carson fans, while those in the second, Maloy asserted, “should be embarrassed by Carson’s popularity.”
Maloy’s not surprised that so many right-wingers have taken to Carson: “A movement that’s been raised on talk radio and encloses itself in Fox News’ alternate reality bubble is naturally going to confuse bombast and eloquent extremism for leadership and gravitas.” Carson, Maloy wrote, “aggravates all of the conservative movement’s long-standing resentments.”
From Maloy’s piece (emphasis added):
When you’re talking to a friendly audience of right-wing activists, blurting out comparisons between the Obama presidency and Nazi Germany would scarcely raise an eyebrow. The same thing said in general company will, rightly, inspire revulsion and condemnation, which typically aren’t conducive to getting yourself elected to high office.
Thus, Carson is in a bind: The very quality that feeds his popularity is also what will prevent him from ever having a shot at legitimacy…
…Carson knows that the things he says are outlandish – he prides himself on it – but he also clearly doesn’t know how to be himself in front of people who don’t share a visceral hatred of Barack Obama.
And really, conservatives who want their movement to be about something more than spittle-flecked outrage at the Kenyan socialist in the Oval Office should be embarrassed by Carson’s popularity. No one doubts that Carson has an inspiring back story and has racked up some impressive accomplishments in his life, but that’s not why conservatives love him. Nor are they feting him for his ambitious and reformist vision of small-government conservatism. They throw their support behind him and fantasize about his ascension to the White House because he says nasty things about Obama…
The things Carson says don’t “need to be said” – indeed, the average person who disapproves of the Affordable Care Act probably doesn’t think it’s worse than 9/11 or in any way comparable to slavery. He says things that conservatives very much want to hear: that Obama’s policies are historically disastrous, that they’re victims of government repression just because they’re conservative, and that gay marriage is a deliberate plot to undermine America. He aggravates all of the conservative movement’s long-standing resentments…
…A movement that’s been raised on talk radio and encloses itself in Fox News’ alternate reality bubble is naturally going to confuse bombast and eloquent extremism for leadership and gravitas.
Carson…won’t [be elected president], and for that we can all be thankful given that he’s an obvious extremist. But that hasn’t prevented him from gathering a significant following of Republicans who will happily back a radical bomb-thrower for president for no other reason than his refusal to be “politically correct.” That doesn’t speak well of the health of the conservative movement.