Ben Carson

Ben Carson's Own Advisers Admit He Doesn't Have a Clue About Foreign Policy

Will it matter during a time of international crisis that the GOP's co-frontrunner is just stone making it up as he goes along?

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Come again? ||| Fox News
Fox News

It is a rare thing indeed for campaign advisers to plunge the knife into candidacies that have been at or near the top of the polls for months. Rarer still for said advisers to go on the record, using their names, in The New York Times. Yet that is where we are tonight:

"Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East," Duane R. Clarridge, a top adviser to Mr. Carson on terrorism and national security, said in an interview. He also said Mr. Carson needed weekly conference calls briefing him on foreign policy so "we can make him smart." […]

Mr. Clarridge, described by Mr. Carson's top adviser, Armstrong Williams, as "a mentor for Dr. Carson," is a colorful, even legendary figure in intelligence circles, someone who could have stepped out of a Hollywood thriller. He was a longtime C.I.A. officer, serving undercover in India, Turkey, Italy and other countries. During the Reagan administration, he helped found the agency's Counterterrorism Center and ran the C.I.A.'s Latin American division. […]

Indicted on charges of lying to Congress in the Iran­-contra scandal (he was later pardoned), Mr. Clarridge today runs a private network of intelligence sources, including, he said, experts on Iran, China and the Middle East, who have all briefed Mr. Carson in phone calls or Skype sessions. Mr. Clarridge, who contacted Mr. Carson nearly two years ago to offer his services without pay, has helped the candidate prepare for debates. But the briefings do not always seem to sink in, Mr. Clarridge acknowledged. After Mr. Carson struggled on "Fox News Sunday" to say whom he would call first to form a coalition against the Islamic State, Mr. Clarridge called Mr. Williams, the candidate's top adviser, in frustration. "We need to have a conference call once a week where his guys roll out the subjects they think will be out there, and we can make him smart," Mr. Clarridge said he told Mr. Williams.

Mr. Williams, one of Mr. Carson's closest friends, who does not have an official role in the campaign, also lamented the Fox News interview. "He's been briefed on it so many times," he said. "I guess he just froze."

Whole thing here. The Carson campaign responded by essentially calling Clarridge an old man shaking his fist at clouds:

"Mr. Clarridge has incomplete knowledge of the daily, not weekly briefings, that Dr. Carson receives on important national security matters from former military and State Department officials," Doug Watts, a Carson campaign spokesman, told Business Insider in an email.

"He is coming to the end of a long career of serving our country. Mr. Clarridge's input to Dr. Carson is appreciated but he is clearly not one of Dr. Carson's top advisors. For the New York Times to take advantage of an elderly gentleman and use him as their foil in this story is an affront to good journalistic practices."

Armstrong Williams, Carson's longtime business manager who frequently acts as a campaign surrogate, said Clarridge is a "good guy" who wasn't aware of the extent of Carson's prepping on foreign policy.

"Mr. Clarridge is a good man, he's been a friend of Dr. Carson's, he's well-meaning," Williams told Business Insider. "He's just frustrated because he was unaware that Dr. Carson was talking to so many other advisers."

That, or maybe he's embarrassed by utterly incoherent debate answers like this?

I can testify from experience that when you point out to Carson's supporters that he is clearly, even dangerously, unknowledgeable about basic international affairs, and fails to make up for this gap by anything like usable instincts, the answer comes quick: Yeah, but what about Obama/Clinton/Kerry? Proving that whataboutism is as alive and well all over the political spectrum this season as righteous anti-elitism and guttural know-nothingism. 

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  1. Making it up as he goes along? So, his foreign policy is remarkably similar to what we have now?

    Though he probably has the excuse of not having daily intelligence briefings.

  2. I saw a clip of him yesterday where apparently he thought his phone really needed to hear what he had to say.

    1. + 1 Siri ?

  3. Sorry Matt, Lindsey Graham doesn’t stand a chance this cycle.

  4. “For the New York Times to take advantage of an elderly gentleman and use him as their foil in this story is an affront to good journalistic practices.”

    Never mind feeling the *Bern,* feel the *Ben.*

    Look, I admit that just because someone had a prestigious and successful career in the private sector (eg, physician, engineer or whatnot) doesn’t mean he’ll be a successful President. But a Pres will always have people lining up to give him expert advice, and he’ll generally be able to put it together to make a decision. Maybe not the right decision, but a decision.

    And this applies only to the matters to which he gives his personal attention. Even the most hands-on President is going to leave a lot of decisions to others, and he’ll only get involved if his people are arguing with each other about it or it leads to a public embarrassment.

    1. -1 Jimmeeeeeeeee

  5. That puts Carson in good company with most of Reason’s editorial staff.

    1. Ooooh: marks were left with that one. Ouch.

    2. That’s a bingo!

    3. Not really. Carson, at least, has the good sense to keep his mouth shut about subjects he doesn’t know anything about.

  6. Not to say nothing, as I age and gather (allegedly) wisdom, but what politician really has a clue about foreign policy?

    The trick is to fake it and when in power wing it. Worked for Obama and it seems Justin Zoolander is gonna go with that strategy.

    1. Such whataboutism, Rufus. Tsk, tsk. Just because people who get elected are as incompetent and ignorant as the guy Welch doesn’t like, that doesn’t make them relevant in any way.

      1. Matt needs to be spanked with my mother’s wooden spoon.

      2. I prefer whatboutulism. It rolls off the tongue more musically.

    2. Reagan had a clue. So did Nixon. I think things ‘worked’ a little better with those two than Obama.

  7. No candidate’s for the Congress, Senate, President, Supreme Court, or the Government Bureaucratic infrastructure knows what they are doing. Neither do the current Government officials in power.

    “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

  8. Dr. Oopy doesn’t stand a chance. It’s still too early in the election season.

    It will be HRC vs Rubio or Bush and th-

    *BAAARRF*

    1. Stick to rice Uncle Ben.

    2. Fret not, Mongo: Carson’s abortion stance will torpedo him for the 70% of the electorate that doesn’t think abortion should be wholly illegal.

      Seriously, how he’s even being considered as a legitimate candidate, I don’t know.

      1. Pro life people have won elections for years, how is Carson different?

  9. I can testify from experience that when you point out to Carson’s supporters that he is clearly, even dangerously, unknowledgeable about basic international affairs, and fails to make up for this gap by anything like usable instincts, the answer comes quick: Yeah, but what about Obama/Clinton/Kerry?

    It’s not only Carson supporters that feel that way.

  10. Turkish soccer fans boo and jeer moment of silence for Paris shouting ‘Alu babkar’ (or whatever it is they shout like nutcases):

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/spo…..anbul.html

    1. On the upside, Greek and Turkey played a game where no one was killed! If booing French is what keeps the fans from each other throats, it’s a small price to pay.

    2. Who cares what a bunch of bitchy soccer moms…holy crap, those are full grown men playing that game. Is this what passes for sports in Turkey?

      1. Look, buddy, don’t fuck with Turks. They’ll fuck you up good!

        Seriously. You know how US is having problems with Middle East? And how Crusaders spent a century at failing to make inroads, before being chased away?

        Selim I took it in two years. All of it. Plus Egypt, because why the fuck not?

        So if they want to screech at 22 sub-literates rolling on the ground between half-hearted kicks at a ball, I say, let them.

    3. And Turkey are the nice Muslims.

      Yesterday’s Ireland/Bosnia match also had a “minute of silence” that was anything but. Since it was in Dublin, I expect it was just yobs being yobs.

      1. All I know is it was hostile in Bosnia. That’s one part of the world that frightens me. I remember, while waiting for a girl I was dating to get off her shift at a club, watching some guys shoot pool. One of them was from Serbia (or some other former Yugoslav country I forget; pretty sure it was Serbia or Croatia though…anyfrickenway…) and I never felt more uncomfortable in my life (and I’ve hung out with mobsters!) as he talked with incredible passion about his will to kill his enemies. He was drunk and I dared not engage him too much. Then he asked me, ‘what are you?” ‘Well, my mother asks me that all the time’ I answered. He gave me a pleasant smile but wanted to know my nationality. So I told him and then I ducked. Luckily, he said he liked Italians and went on about them in the old country. Then, soon after, I dated a Croatian girl during the war. Again. More stories there that left me nodding my head.

        Yeah. Tough people.

  11. He doesn’t have a clue about anything as far as politics go. As a neurosurgeon, someone who spent years, probably a decade or more learning his skills, you would think that he might have done his research on politics before deciding to run for POTUS, but it appears he didn’t.

    The good news is that Rand is now polling at 5%. That’s about a 500% increase. No one else is rising that fast, not even close.

    1. If a neurosurgeon is not ready to lead and command society then maybe we should throw in the towel as a species, and say that none of us is ready to rule all of us.

      1. For most of human history, being skilled at stabbing people in the head was the main prerequisite for leadership.

        CARSON 2016! OLD SCHOOL CONSERVATIVE!

      2. If a neurosurgeon can’t change my mind, he must not be a very good neurosurgeon.

        1. You have to let him get under the hood

          1. How many terms will he have to serve to get under the hood on all 300 million of us?

            1. Maybe the cabinet will be full of nurses and he can do it assembly line style to save time?

        2. You’re not standing close enough.

        3. Swiss, to the white courtesy phone.

      3. Being skilled in one specific area doesn’t make you an expert on anything else.

    2. The good news is that Rand is now polling at 5%. That’s about a 500% increase. No one else is rising that fast, not even close.

      At that rate, Rand Paul will be at 50% by January when the real voting starts.

  12. Yeah, but what about Obama/Clinton/Kerry?

  13. That’s aight, neither does Hillary or Sanders, or Trump, or Obama.

    1. I think the special problem Welch has with Carson’s un-unique terribleness in foreign policy understanding is actually with Carson’s poll numbers. That so many more people seem to be looking past Carson’s ignorance than the maladroitness of others is the reason he gets singled out.

      Of course, it’s not true. The current administration is bumbling their way through crisis after crisis but they still have ample cheerleaders shaking pompoms in our faces.

      1. I’m so glad you followed up with paragraph two. Because, you know, just sayin’.

  14. Well, it is foreign affairs:

    “Talks under way for UN rights chief to visit North Korea”
    […]
    “Ri (a Nork official) said North Korea “attaches great importance to dialogue on human rights.”
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/wor…..639017.php

    Somehow, I don’t think it’s “important” the same way you or I would use the word…

    1. Sure they do.

      There is the right to ask permission.
      The right to do exactly as you are told.
      The right to forfeit your time, talent, and labor to the glory of the state.
      The right to be killed if you try to flee the country.
      The right to pay homage and give glory to the great and almighty leader.

      A whole host of North Korean rights that we don’t even have in our own Constitution.

      1. They might even have a right to keep and bear arms. Except that in the NorK case they are referring to the two appendages attached to one’s shoulders.

  15. Just saw Ben on PBS denying the “advisor”.

    1. I hope he denied him three times.

      1. + 30 pieces of silver.

      2. Uncle Ben is not cocky enough to crow like that.

  16. Reason’s foreign policy summarized as follows:

    Nonintervention

    Immigrants are the atheist-equivalent of a Godsend

    Republicans bad

  17. He can always pray a lot. I will be, if he wins.

  18. He can hire people who know about foreign policy. That’s what cabinet members are for. Not scoring political points. Presidents don’t need to be their own SecStates, John Bolton or similar would serve nicely. Carson’s strength is his decency, honesty, common sense, and modesty. Especially that latter would be a relief, it would allow him to defer to his experts.

    Who would you support? Trump would be an arrogant disaster. Only Rubio strikes me as a foreign policy expert, but he seems something of a know-it-all as well. Cruz is smart but not pragmatic. And the rest are too far down in the polls to be serious candidates at this point.

    1. “He can hire people who know about foreign policy. That’s what cabinet members are for.”

      For education, farm policy, and tariffs maybe, but the Prez is Commander in Chief. Providing strategic direction to the military and foreign policy is not something to outsource. Plus, how can we judge his wisdom if the players will be named later?

    2. John Bolton is a warmongering asshole idiot.

      Perhaps you meant Michael Bolton?

    3. John Bolton is a warmongering asshole idiot.

      Perhaps you meant Michael Bolton?

      1. pb licks cankles….insert here.

    4. Regardless who you hire as sec’y, State will be run from the British Foreign Office.

    5. The Carsonites are here.

      1. I prefer the term Carsonist. It’s more lively. Volatile, if you will.

        1. Sounds hot too!

  19. I can testify from experience that when you point out to Carson’s supporters that he is clearly, even dangerously, unknowledgeable about basic international affairs, and fails to make up for this gap by anything like usable instincts, the answer comes quick: Yeah, but what about Obama/Clinton/Kerry?

    Bad form as a general principle, but a fair question in your case given your full-throated (in every conceivable sense of the term) support of candidate Obama in 2008 when he was running on the platform of ending a war that was already over, and president Obama during the early 12th dimensional chess of the Arab Spring.

    1. “a fair question in your case given your full-throated (in every conceivable sense of the term) support of candidate Obama in 2008”

      No it’s still not a fair question. The Cons sure do love apologizing for their idiot standard-bearers.

      1. Carson is going to be running against Clinton. Clinton’s foreign policy credentials and history are uniformly awful. So yes, it is fair to ask whether “unfamiliar with” is actually worse than “wrong about”.

        I don’t see myself voting for Carson, but his lack of foreign policy knowledge isn’t a contributing factor there.

  20. Trump’s staff could say the same of him re foreign or domestic affairs, & it wouldn’t hurt his campaign a bit.

  21. A crazy man for President. He will scare the sane into submission and bomb the insane.

    The Russians thought Reagan was crazy.

  22. The next major attack in America will be by radicalized Americans.

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