Saturday, November 14, 2015

Secret intelligence alert: The Albanian army will invade Arizona

I just made that up to make the point: when it comes to bogus claims, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is the worst among equals.

Stuff happens. Even when it doesn't, candidates will make it up. Especially the current crop of GOP presidential candidates. But Carson is a standout because of his ridiculous claims. And now he's even topped himself. Steve Benen at MSNBC/MaddowBlog has the story.

[Carson] claimed this week that China has deployed troops to Syria, despite the fact that China has not deployed troops to Syria. Yesterday, Armstrong Williams, a top Carson campaign aide, defended the claim by pointing to – you guessed it – secret intelligence.

"Intelligence" known only to Carson and his campaign aides. "Intelligence" that is therefore not verifiable by anyone other than Carson.

At a certain level, I can appreciate the appeal of the "I have secret sources" defense. For one thing, it’s an unverifiable trump card. For another, it makes the politician using the line seem as if he or she is important, learning sensitive information thanks to powerful allies that only he or she has access to.

The trouble is, the defense is also ridiculous. Relying on imaginary intrigue reeks of desperation.

There were no ISIS fighters entering the United States through Mexico. Saddam didn’t have WMD. Putin, Abbas, and Khamenei weren’t college buddies. And Chinese troops are not in Syria. Pretending to have covert information doesn’t make bogus claims accurate; it makes those making the bogus claims appear foolish.

What does that say about the person making those claims? Is Carson just doing what his peers do? That is, deliberately deceiving the audience with bogus information? Or is he living his life in a make-believe world populated by characters and events known only to him? Given the recent investigative reporting on Carson's unsubstantiated claims about his early life, I am thinking the latter.

Carson has a need to create a private world that sustains his view of his own self importance. I have "secret intelligence" told to me by "various people" that leads me to that diagnosis.

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