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Friday, November 20, 2015

Explaining that Sweet Old Ben

Sometime in the muddled past, I heard a joke about the seemingly eternal lines in the Heavenly Cafeteria, and how one day at lunch a guy in a lab coat, with a steth around his neck, strode up to the head of the line. commandeered a tray, and left with it.

One of the saved asked an attendant, "Who does that guy think HE is?"

"Oh, that's God Every once in a while, he liked to play doctor."

Now, Rolling Stone wonders if that's Dr McStabby's problem:
Being an ace doctor — an ace surgeon especially — is a helluva drug. Even the humblest of characters can't help but feel the rush of stealing a life from death, of defying it, of reshaping a person's body and world, of being the ultimate agent of rescue for them in moments of direst fear. If you happen to be better at that than almost all your peers who feel that same rush, it's even more powerful. And Ben Carson might well have been the best in the world at what he did. 
It's possible that it's been decades since Ben Carson heard the word "no" in any meaningful way. Possessed of both incredible talent and the authority of being director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, Ben Carson might have stopped registering the objections, input or even the basic reality of ideas originating outside of Ben Carson sometime in the mid-Eighties. By all accounts, he engages beautifully with fans, signing books and reacting warmly. But these are people on bended knee, not people with the stature to say no. These aren't countervailing narratives, data that disrupts the flow of Ben Carson. These are not peers in the field of non-medical ideas: journalists, historians, economists, military planners, natural scientists. Those latter merit only Carson's derision as agents of political correctness, dishonesty or his favorite hand-waving epithet, "foolishness." 
Even his speaking demeanor drips with disregard: the total unconcern with being audible, as if anyone who has trouble hearing needs to lean closer; the endless dilations delivered with eyes almost fully closed, as if eye contact or even the presence of others is immaterial; the answers that engage topics of interest to him at a plodding pace regardless of your available time, ending at a terminus of his choosing, the journey intelligible only to himself. More pointedly, almost the only time Carson raises his voice, opens his eyes and looks directly at someone for a response is when he's angered. Like Jabba the Hutt, he only stops nap-talking and stares when he's surprised or denied his expectations. 
Ben Carson might just be running an incompetent and confused campaign with a dubious funding apparatus because it has become impossible for him not to conceive of his every feint as another move along the board of the Fisher-Spassky match playing in his mind. Ben Carson might think that the pyramids are teeming with unpopped corn because he long since lost the capacity to suspect that anything he's convinced himself he knows could ever be incorrect. Ben Carson might genuinely believe that, between his totally authentic story of nearly stabbing a man and the story of a Syrian child fleeing a war, his tale isn't the one that should scare the hell out of you. Ben Carson might be so brilliant and talented that he cannot detect how often he's being an absolute moron. 

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