CPAC 2014: Dr. President Ben Carson vs. the “PC Police”

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 8 2014 2:10 PM

CPAC 2014: Dr. President Ben Carson vs. the “PC Police”

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Gifted hands, exciting words.

Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—In his short career as a conservative icon, Dr. Ben Carson has traveled the traditional stations of the cross. The media, surprised by his first political speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, has covered his view of gay marriage (unnatural, just as bestiality is unnatural), of Obamacare ("the worst thing to happen since slavery"), of Nazi Germany (parallels to today). This has bound the movement ever closer to Carson; Alexandra Jaffe's piece on the Draft Ben movement captures just how much

I wandered into the CPAC exhibition hall just as Carson was wrapping a grin-and-grab for premium ticket holders. Helaina Ciaramella, a Carson fan from Staten Island, had grabbed "Ben Carson 2016" signs from the Draft Ben booth and started handing them out.

"I told him, it's his destiny to run for president," said Ciaramella. He'd take the presidency because "if Republicans win at least 17 percent of the black vote, the Democrats can't win."

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Turned out that this exact line was in the Draft Ben brochure, as well as an explanation of how Herman Cain had threatened to pull 40 percent of the black vote from Obama. I was about to leave the booth when—there he was, Ben Carson sheepishly walking by and waving at the Drafters, without stopping. He was surrounded by three security guards and a filmmaker who documented his events.

Carson had two appointments—one with the Washington Times, one with National Review. The security guards blocked the entrance to both publications' booths as Carson did his exclusives. (The Times is launching a new magazine for black conservatives next week, as Carson told his audience.) He was in and out, posing for photos then speeding to his speech, standing room only.

"One of the principles of Saul Alinsky is that you make the majority think their ideology is outdated, and nobody thinks that way," Carson told the audience. The media had done all that, and lied about him, like when it claimed he had compared Obamacare to slavery.

"Of course they're not the same thing," said Carson. "Slavery is much worse. But keep in mind what happens with Obamacare," a massive transfer of power from the people to the state.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.