Donald Trump

Is Ben Carson Donald Trump's Weakness?


Bask, for a moment, in the populist spectacle of Donald Trump's rambling, angry, hour-and-a-half-long rant of a speech in Iowa last night, via this highlight reel from The Washington Post:

He scoffed at those who have accused him of not understanding foreign policy, saying he knows more about Islamic State terrorists "than the generals do." He took credit for predicting the threat of Osama bin Laden and being right on the "anchor baby situation," a position he says "these great geniuses from Harvard Law School" now back. He uttered the word "crap" at least three times, and promised to "bomb the s—" out of oil fields benefiting terrorists. He signed a book for a guy in the audience and then tossed it back at him with a flip: "Here you go, baby. I love you."

Trump called Republican rival Carly Fiorina "Carly whatever-the-hell-her-name-is," accused Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton of playing the "woman's card" and said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is "weak like a baby." He then devoted more than 10 minutes angrily attacking his chief rival, Ben Carson, saying the retired doctor has a "pathological disease" with no cure, similar to being a child molester.

"If I did the stuff he said he did, I wouldn't be here right now. It would have been over. It would have been over. It would have been totally over," Trump said. "And that's who's in second place. And I don't get it."

You can watch the full, uncut video of Trump's lengthy attack on fellow candidate Ben Carson here.

It's not pretty, but it's really something to behold—an extended, angry, sneering, vindictive attack on Carson's character and biography that would be unimaginable coming from any other candidate. Trump's argument, to the extent that it can be summarized, is that the press has been trying to paint Carson as an exaggerator, when the real problem is that Carson claims to be telling the truth about his history of violent incidents. As usual, Trump, in his ugly, unhinged way, has managed to zero in on his rival's biggest potential weakness.

Yet at the same time, he may have revealed his own. Trump's attack on Carson comes across not only as typically (for Trump) aggressive, but as unusually anxious. More than any other candidate, Carson seems to have rattled Trump.

Trump claims to be mystified about Carson's success in the polls. "That's who's in second place," he says of Carson, after describing the neurosurgeon's history of outbursts. "And I don't get it."

At least when it comes to the polls, Carson, who is practically tied with Trump in the RealClearPolitics average (and beating him in some individual surveys), is Trump's only real competitor at the moment. It's not hard to understand why: Trump and Carson are flip sides of the same phenomenon. 

Yes, both candidates are Washington outsiders with no previous political experience and little interest in the details of policy.

But in most other ways, they are opposite numbers: Trump's style is angry, aggressive, hot-tempered and prone to over-the-top insults; Carson, in contrast, is gentle, kindly mannered, and soft-spoken to the point of coming across as sleepy. Trump is a mainline protestant who rarely speaks about his faith; Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist whose religious commitments are central to his life and campaign. Trump made his fortune as a brash, big-picture dealmaker and money-man whose high-profile projects often went bust; he worked with his ego and his mouth. Carson made his reputation as a careful surgical innovator, working on delicate surgeries where there was no room for error; he worked with his intelligence and his hands. Trump grew up wealthy and privileged in New York, and his real estate career was kickstarted by a generous seven-figure loan from his father; Carson grew up poor in Detroit, and studied and struggled his way into the ranks of elite medical practitioners. Carson's persona is practically the inverse of Trump's persona. 

And that makes Carson the biggest potential threat yet to Trump's so-far surprisingly durable campaign. The same forces that have helped Trump are also helping Carson. Carson has all of Trump's outsider credibility, all of his anti-political appeal, which means that he can't be dismissed as a typical Washington politician. He also has a life and back-story that are just as personally compelling, in their own way, as Trump's, yet also radically different. 

I say potential threat because it is clear that Trump clearly does not operate by the normal rules of politics and does not have the weaknesses of a conventional presidential candidate. We shouldn't assume that his campaign is invincible, but at this point, we also don't know what can hurt him.

Yet the same can be said of Carson—and that may be why Trump, whose political instincts have proven surprisingly accurate over the past few months, suddenly seems so nervous.  

NEXT: Students Say They Want Cheap (or Free) College, Then Make Demands That Drive Up Costs

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So if we say John’s name three times while looking at that picture of Trump’s doughy orifice, will he appear to defend Trump against charges of being a clear and present retard?

    1. I believe you are an elitist, Hugh, and you probably just hate the hicks in fly over country, who you spit upon should you ever happen to find your way to their ramshackle shanty towns where goats graze in the yards of hillbillies.

      Why don’t you quit with your hatred of working class whites and acknowledge your obvious bigotry?

      1. Nice try Irish, but you know as well as I do that the Yard Goats are blue-nosed coastal elites just like me.

    2. Well, whatever Trump’s flaws are (and they are many), he has this one virtue:

      He pisses off all the right people to an enormous degree.

      And that’s not a small thing, these days.

  2. Which one of those two wants to bomb the shit out of ISIS? That is the sort of tough talk I want out of my president.

  3. I say potential threat because it is clear that Trump clearly does not operate by the normal rules of politics and does not have the weaknesses of a conventional presidential candidate. We shouldn’t assume that his campaign is invincible, but at this point, we also don’t know what can hurt him.

    I love that there is someone unpredictable involved in the presidential race who confuses the media elites, as well as Suderman.

    1. It’s like watching a monster movie that keeps cutting to newscasters incredulously explaining that none of the military’s strongest weapons can stop Godzilla.

      1. GOP Crony Lords: “Gordan,Light the Romney Signal!”

    2. It’s not so much he confuses the media than they media can’t manipulate him. Seems all others are so afraid the media will say something, that they don’t want the media to report badly on them, that will make them think they need to apologize. Trump says something outlandish and politically stupid, the media calls him out on it and he tell them to go suck canal water. “but we called you out on it, you are supposed to apologize.” Trump: “No, and you’re stupid.” People are tired of politician saying what they believe then finding a need to apologize for it. “I said it, you don’t like it, I don’t care if you don’t like it.” Romney should have doubled down on the 49% comment. Trump wrongly implies all mexicans of rape, murder and drugs. Doubles down on the comment and then comes out in the news of one who raped, or murdered, or arrested for drugs then people get the impression he’s right. He talks about building a wall and everyone says it won’t work, that it’s a stupid idea, then a couple of european countries start saying they are going to build a wall. He says the want’s to deport 11 million illegals, and everyone says he can’t, what will you do, bust down doors demanding proof of citizenship? Now just yesterday I heard that a Des Moines newspaper wrote an article that the IRS is ignoring stolen ss numbers because they want the tax from the illegals using these numbers, so the IRS knows who are illegal and have their addresses..

      1. Trump says something stupid, then something happens to make people incorrectly believe he is correct.

        1. I’d like to see Rand Paul grow a pair of balls that big. Call out Christie as a fascist and a bully using gov’t for his own means, that he is the face of what is wrong with the republican party, him and lindsey, mccain, etc. Call out Rubio as a big gov’t spender. That florino is ignorant if she thinks she can ignore putin and refuse to talk to him. That hillary clinton is responsible for the death of 4 americans in benghazi, that she was more concerned for her pride and protecting the president and to get elected than she was for american lives. Ask the mothers in this country if they would feel safe having her in charge of doing what is needed to protect our sons and daughters she sends in harm’s way when doing so will embarrass her.

          Grow a pair Rand, speak your mind, tell us what is true and don’t apologize to anyone for doing so. That is the politician we want. You made a great start in the last debate, double down and keep it going.

  4. Enigma, please

    1. Is Ben Carson Donald Trump’s weakness? Go ahead and say it, we know you want to: Carson is Trump’s b?te noire.

      1. Wasn’t b?te noire a stripper in the 20s?

  5. I’m starting to warm to the Trump fellow. I couldn’t get with the whole ‘endless freight cars, full of mexicans heading south’ thing, but regular crazy talk – that’s what I want in my presidential candidate.
    He should mention menstruation. That always gets a laugh.

    1. “And what’s with those Brits always saying ‘Bloody hole’? I don’t get it.”

      1. Of course you don’t get it. Too bad. Some women are really hot when bloody.

    2. He should get bush to pull his finger.

  6. Meanwhile this weekend Trump gets to go on all the news shows and repeat as often as he likes, “I didn’t say Ben Carson is a child molester.” Or even better, “I have no evidence that Ben Carson is a child molester.”

  7. If His Trumpness ever got elected POTUS, can you imagine the epic wars between him and the media? I imagine it would be a knock down drag out every single night.

    1. Nope. Trump’s bronzed and botoxed balls would fit just as easily into the mouths of the Fourth Estate as did those of previous presidents.

      1. How disappointing. I would want maximum verbal carnage between all parties. Fake air smooching would be most unwelcome.

  8. Im making over $9k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do,


  9. Im making over $9k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do,


  10. Carson will win Iowa and fade away after that. Trump may be the nominee if the other guys don’t decide who is going to take him on.


  12. I’ve wanted a Carson/Rand ticket for a long time. I need that to happen.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.