Donald Trump is a dumpster fire of a candidate, and because of that, there are certain expectations. I’m rarely surprised by the things the Mogul with the Mouth says and does, because we’ve been in this game for months. But I continue to be disappointed by Ben Carson, the man who used to be a great example of the regular citizen turned politician. He may not have had all the answers, but he seemed intellectually curious at least. An eager neophyte.
Now that he’s signed a pact with the Devil in Brass, he’s sunk lower and lower. At every turn, he’s forced to defend or justify his candidate’s actions–like when he argued that if Trump turned out to be a monster president, at least it would only be four years!
Trump’s latest gaffe came during an MSNBC town hall in which he was asked about punishment for women who had abortions. The following is the relevant portion of the exchange between Trump and Chris Matthews:
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MATTHEWS: “Should the woman be punished for having an abortion?”
TRUMP: “Uh, look–”
MATTHEWS: “This is not something you can dodge. If you say abortion is a crime, or abortion is murder, you have to deal with it under the law. Should abortion be punished?”
TRUMP: “Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party, and conservative Republicans would say yes, they should be punished.”
MATTHEWS: “How about you?”
TRUMP: “I would say that it’s a very serious problem, and it’s a problem we have to decide on. Are you gonna say ‘Put them in jail?’ Is that the punishment you’re talking about?”
MATTHEWS: “I’m asking you because you say you wanna ban it. What’s that mean?”
TRUMP: “I am against–I am pro-life.”
Trump then asked Matthews about his Catholic faith, which led to a protracted back-and-forth about religion. Finally, the conversation got back on track:
MATTHEWS: “Do you believe in punishment for abortion? Yes or no? As a principle.”
TRUMP: “The answer is that [pause] there has to be some form of punishment.”
MATTHEWS: “For the woman?”
TRUMP: “Yeah. There has to be some form.”
MATTHEWS: “Ten cents, ten years? What?”
TRUMP: “That I don’t know.”
Trump was heavily criticized for his remarks, and later that night released a statement “clarifying” his position that women shouldn’t be punished for abortions.
Trump’s rivals jumped on the gaffe as rivals do, but Ben Carson defended his man, telling CNN’s Erin Burnett Wednesday:
“Bear in mind, I don’t believe that he was warned that that question was coming, and I don’t think he really had a chance to really think about it. That happens very frequently, and you know, what you develop with experience is how to answer that in a way that is not definitive. You know how politicians are. He has not really learned that–he’s not a politician.”
Let’s translate that:
Poor Donald wasn’t given a master list of the questions before the town hall so he could bone up on what he didn’t know. Republicans are never asked about abortion, so how could he have possibly been prepared? He has no experience, and therefore can’t answer questions about the bedrock issue of abortion. The other candidates are slimy because they offer nuanced answers, while Trump simply has to retract what he says at a later date–sometimes within hours.
That’s what I heard.
Then of course Trump blamed someone other than himself. During an interview with Eric Bolling on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” Trump said:
“You really had to hear the whole thing. This was a long, convoluted question. This was a long discussion, and they just cut it out. And frankly, it was extremely–it was really convoluted…I’ve had the same stance, exactly, as Ronald Reagan, and I’ve had it from the beginning…
It could be that I misspoke, but this was a long, convoluted subject. We talked about Catholicism, and his religion. And Chris went back and forth about that. This was a long, convoluted discussion, which frankly, they don’t want on television cause it was too long.”
It was MSNBC’s fault! Nope. The discussion was “convoluted” because Trump brought up Catholicism to take the spotlight off of himself. Also, MSNBC released a statement saying nothing was cut:
“The town hall interview with Donald Trump was taped in advance and then aired in its entirety. Absolutely no part of the exchange between Trump and Chris Matthews was edited out.”
Whaaaaat? Trump casually lied? That’s so unlike him.
This moment is a microcosm of the Trump candidacy. The Orange Menace was seemingly dumbfounded by the question, unable to take any definitive position. It’s almost as if he hadn’t given this very serious (not to mention fundamental) question any thought at all. Ah, yes! That’s because he hadn’t.
It’s not a lack of political savvy that causes Trump to ramble on and on, and stumble over the most basic questions, it’s a lack of intellectual curiosity. He’s just winging it. I’d understand if this were month one, or perhaps if it had been a difficult or intricate question, but this is a fundamental conservative issue, and Trump has had 291 days to take a position. 291 days and he’s–dare I say–choking like a dog.
Set aside all of Trump’s problems. Set aside the lies, the smears, the crude behavior, the lies, the violent rhetoric, and the lies. Do you want a candidate who hasn’t taken even a second to consider the ramifications of abortion law? This wasn’t an ambush, this was a Braveheart-style, stand-across-the-battlefield-from-each-other-screaming-war-chants question. Any normal person could have seen it coming a mile away. But Trump whiffed it.
The man’s incompetent. He runs his campaign on the fly. Trump supporters see that as revolutionary, when in reality, it’s just really stupid.