The Media Send Off Carson with Contrasting Political Obituaries

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Was Ben Carson’s campaign for president an “anti-climactic” failure or a “big success”? Did he distinguish himself as someone who kept “an even keel” or “just [showed] up places and [said] whatever”? Thanks to the different media assessments on Carson’s now suspended campaign, we can all agree to disagree, forever and ever.

Here are four takes on the former Hopkins neurosurgeon’s White House run:

The New Yorker: Carson was the “anti-Trump” who “at times” led “two campaigns at once.”

The New Yorker‘s Carson eulogy credited the candidate’s ability to embody for his fans “the fundamental goodness that America once had, and somehow lost” for his brief rise among GOP voters, who tend to privilege ideology over other concerns.  His “anticlimactic demise” and “his peculiar knack for delivering dire warnings calmly and almost happily” made him the “anti-Trump” in more ways than one.

(Imagine this statement from Carson’s CPAC speech in the doctor’s soporific tenor: “If we get in there someone like Hillary Clinton . . . she’s going to get two to four Supreme Court picks. That’s going to, I think, ruin the future for our children, our grandchildren, all of our progeny. I think that’s just as bad as taking a knife and stabbing them with it.”)

TNY pointed to a dissonance within Carson’s campaign, which was “a high-minded seminar on American values, coexisting with a rather more worldly network of Carson-related businesses.” Problems with that “worldly network” — which prompted the candidate to publicly air his disappointment “that I trusted people without really vetting them carefully” — revealed weaknesses in Carson’s campaign that could not be overcome.


TIME: Raising money was the “one thing Ben Carson was exceptionally good at.”

In TIME‘s take on Carson’s campaign, it all came down to money. Not counting any of the four pro-Ben Carson super PACs, the candidate “raised more than $57 million for the 2016 election cycle, more than any other Republican candidate’s campaign.”

The article quotes a previous TIME investigative piece which credited Carson’s fundraising prowess to “a well-honed formula: renting and expanding email lists, beseeching supporters for cash through email and the postal service, and then reinvesting big chunks of the proceeds in ever more appeals to activists.”


Deadspin: Carson’s campaign was a “big success” — for the ex-candidate’s financial future

“Ben Carson’s job for the past couple of years” has been to “just [show] up places and [say] whatever,” so says Gawker-affiliated site Deadspin.

“Ben Carson will not get to do this job within the Republican primary campaign anymore, but he has scored a gig as the chairman of something called My Faith Votes, which sounds pretty sweet,” it goes on. “In the meantime, he will sell lots of copies of the book about all the cool stuff he didn’t do and some other cool stuff he did do. Pretty good job. This all worked out pretty nicely for Ben Carson.”


The Washington Times: Carson’s campaign “has forever changed electoral politics . . . for the better”

Carson’s confidant, business manager, and unofficial campaign wrangler Armstrong Williams penned a eulogy in The Washington Times which paints Carson as a person “[e]ver eager to obey and appear willing in the sight of God” who dutifully followed the calls to run for president. Williams judged Carson’s campaign to have “forever changed electoral politics in the U.S. for the better” by “bringing a set of values to the public sphere — where they are sorely lacking at present.”

“He will be remembered as having run one of the most unique and (especially by contrast) dignified campaigns in presidential election history,” Williams writes.


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