Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder at the Republican convention, the Prince of Darkness showed up. Or at least his ally was in the house, via a prime-time speech reference to none other than Hillary Clinton by one-time GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson.
I am not making this up. Stephen Colbert has even invented a new word: Trumpiness, to describe the state of things in Cleveland, and America in general. More on Colbert later.
Frankly, I thought most media were fairly subdued in handling what a goofball Carson has become although their headline writers definitely had a holiday. "Did You Stay Awake Long Enough to Hear Ben Carson Call Hillary Lucifer?" Esquire asked.
Here's how CNN called it:
Washington (CNN) -- Former presidential candidate Ben Carson said Wednesday that he linked Hillary Clinton to a prominent community organizer, Saul Alinsky, who once offered measured praise of Lucifer in a book, to provide "perspective" on what type of president the Democrat would be.
"Recognize that this is a very famous book -- 'Rules for Radicals' -- and on the dedication page, you acknowledge Lucifer in an admirable way saying he's the original radical who gained his own kingdom," Carson told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day." "What I am saying is that we are talking about electing to the presidency an individual who embraces someone who obviously is not someone who is consistent."
Clinton wrote her 1969 Wellesley undergraduate thesis on Alinsky -- though she's said in her own book that she had "fundamental" disagreements with him," according to an analysis of Carson's comments on Politifact.
Now back to what Carson originally said Tuesday night:
At Tuesday's Republican National Convention, Carson asked attendees if they could elect Clinton given her relationship to Alinsky, who critics have long accused of harboring communist sympathies.
"Let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky," he said. "He wrote a book called 'Rules for Radicals.' On the dedication page, it acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom."
Carson asked, "So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?"
CNN then added in a tweet from Salman Rushdie and threw in a link from Politfact, which did an analysis of the Hillary-Alinsky-Lucifer triangle.
Politfact actually linked to Alinsky’s book, allowing you to read (in the first two scrolled-down pages) the offending text.
I wish that someone had noted that being a fan of Saul Alinsky is not just the provenance of the ungodly. Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen praised Alinsky in his first book and openly copied Alinsky’s tactics when it came to confrontational street evangelizing in 1960s-era San Francisco. Anyway, Politfact also digs up a New York Times review of Clinton’s undergraduate thesis and quotes from one of Clinton’s memoirs about her relationship with Alinsky.
Other articles? There’s the Daily Beast’s commentary-disguised-as-news that throws in one detail I’d not seen elsewhere: That Carson had planned to say something else and the Hillary-as-Satanist speech was a last-minute substitute that the Trump campaign could not prevent. This piece has more background on Carson than the other two and reminds us that this is not the first time Carson’s accused Hillary of sympathizing with the devil.
Forbes.com ran an opinion piece that had some good background on whether Alinsky really was into the Guy Downstairs or not. I never knew there were that many Alinsky scholars out there.
Vanity Fair surely wins the contest for best subhead: “Forget Benghazi,” it reads. “This conspiracy goes all the way to the bottom.” The article closes with this thought:
In a speech that could have been a disaster, it must have been a relief that Carson’s meandering thoughts went straight to hell, and not somewhere closer to home.
Eleven years ago, Colbert continued, he invented the straight-to-the-dictionary term "truthiness," which is believing something that feels true, even if it's not supported by fact. We have, of course, written about this. This week, he has introduced Trumpiness, which doesn't even have to feel true, because people don't care if something is true or not. For instance, who really believes that Trump will manage to build a gargantuan wall on the Mexico border?
"If he doesn't have to mean what he says, then he can say anything," Colbert said.
Lots of folks have written about this. For example, see what the Voltaire quoting Washington Monthly team came up with to describe Trumpiness. For those who wonder how to dissect the hall of mirrors this election has become, and the struggle journalists are having covering it, Colbert is onto something.