“Could I sit down right now and enjoy the rest of my life in complete luxury? Absolutely.”
As far as answers to the “What now?” question go, Ben Carson could have given a much better one on a day when the AP reported that his campaign raised more money than any other GOP candidate and blew most of it on all the crony consultant garbage that doesn’t actually win elections. But you couldn’t have asked for a better farewell to the campaign itself.
The longest K-hole in history ended with Carson on the CPAC stage, hands laced together and thumbs perpetually twiddling, as if he were losing a thumb war with himself. Even at the moment that he confronted the terminal prognosis of his campaign and admitted it to the world, he couldn’t be bothered to open his eyes: He was the flesh version of the eyeless muppet Dr. Bunsen Honeydew to the end.
The crowd was on its feet when Carson entered, the room already packed by Ted Cruz, who’d abandoned the stage a few minutes before. It was impossible to suppose that everyone cheering could have been Carson volunteers or voters, although an improbable number clapped vigorously when he referred to his “supporters” during the Q&A that followed his speech.
Despite my best efforts the day before, I hadn’t found anyone who admitted to having Carson as a first choice. Obviously, I could have missed some people, but for someone who had been losing primary contests for the last 32 days and whose numbers had been on a steady decline since November 5, it’s hard to imagine a lot of people wanted to shell out $300 to see the fabulous duet of a selectively blind guy and a dead campaign.
The closest I came to someone with real enthusiasm for Carson at this late date was a man poring over tables of campaign books, who admitted to liking Carson’s memoir, Gifted Hands. His favorite book, though, was The 5,000 Year Leap, by Cleon Skousen, who once referred to black people in one of his history books as “pickaninnies.”
The CPAC goodbye was the typical Carson performance, a collection of dopey wisdom, lost anecdotes and incorrect data so breathtakingly dumb that the next time you go to the doctor you’ll reflexively squint extra hard at him or her and ask yourself, “Could this idiot motherfucker accidentally kill me right here?”
After misquoting his beloved Constitution in a debate and citing an email forward’s non-fact about Stalin in another, Carson threw bloggers a bone at the close, adding more unforced errors just for the hell of it. He offered his simpering pity for the press, avatars of the souls lost to modernity. “The press is the only job that is protected by the Constitution,” he said. “The press were supposed to be the allies of the people. They were not supposed to take sides and do what they have done.” Woe betide the historian who acquaints this esteemed Constitutionalist with the contemporary journalism of the founders and its gleeful accusations and implications of adultery, bastardy and corruption.