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Explaining the Ben Carson Phenomenon

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 27/10/2015 Andy Ostroy
BEN CARSON © PAUL J. RICHARDS via Getty Images BEN CARSON


There can only be one reason why Ben Carson is now at the top of three new Iowa polls and a new national poll: Republican voters might be in desperate need of some of the good doctor's brain surgery!
How else do you explain his impressive double-digit surge past the front runner Donald Trump? (or, for that matter, how Trump is the front runner in the first place). It certainly can't be because Carson's put forth innovative, substantive policy proposals. To the contrary, his growing supporter base cites his 'calm, soft-spoken and reassuring' demeanor as the qualities they find most attractive...despite his multiple controversial gaffes.
So here's a little tip for the remaining 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls as they head into the primary homestretch: your party's voters will love you no matter what craziness comes out of your mouth as long as you say it with your eyes half closed and sounding like the anesthesia's kicking in.
German Jews would've fared better against the Nazi's had they all been armed with guns? No problem! Muslims should not be president of the United States? Absolutely! Obamacare is as bad as slavery? Of course! Abortions should be illegal even in cases of rape or if the mother's life is at stake? Yes! Yes! That's why we love you, Ben! Because you make ridiculous, absurd, narrow-minded, outrageously offensive comments like these in such a 'mild-mannered, gentlemanly, user-friendly' fashion!
To be sure, gone are the days when Republican voters demanded logic and reason from their candidates. Or meaningful policy proposals. Or an ability to satisfactorily articulate them. Carson, on Fox News Sunday defending his position on Medicare, sounded like a disingenuous 14-year-old trying to explain why he smells like cigarettes.
Pressed by host Chris Wallace over his desire to eliminate the huge government entitlement program, Carson's feeble response conjured up images of Herman Cain trying to explain his "999" tax plan during the 2012 campaign. Except Carson's Medicare/health care plan is more like "CCC": complicated, confusing, crazy.
So maybe there's hope for Jeb Bush yet. Or Chris Christie. Perhaps one of them will win the war of attrition against the extremists including Carson, Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Maybe the successful strategy is to lie in wait as the clown car careens off the cliff, leaving one of them the last man, the sane man, standing.
If that's the case, Bush, who lately looks and sounds like he'd rather be getting his chest waxed than be on the campaign trail, better start showing some serious moxie and passion before it's too late. And Christie needs to get out of the 'quiet car' and start making the kind of noise that resonates with voters. As inept as the crazies are, these two "mainstream" candidates have been even more inept. The election always has been theirs to lose.

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