Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks during a news conference, Oct. 2, 2015, in Ankeny, Iowa.
Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP

Ben Carson just can’t help himself

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson just had quite a week. It was a week in which Americans learned that Carson believes bullet-riddled bodies are preferable to new gun laws; he questioned why victims of a mass-shooting weren’t as brave as he imagines himself to be; he told a bizarre story about a robbery he claims to have witnessed; and the GOP topped it off with a fight with the Anti-Defamation League over his Holocaust confusion.
Most candidates for national office would take months to rack up a list like this. Carson did it over the course of five days.
The Associated Press published a piece today highlighting the Republican’s “freewheeling approach.” I honestly can’t think of a more charitable way to characterize a presidential hopeful who makes ridiculous comments for no reason, while facing no real consequences.
But just when it seemed Carson couldn’t move any further from reality, he sat down with TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and came up with a brand new fantasy.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been tied to controversial Mideast Muslim leaders since the time they attended school in Moscow, according to Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson. […]
Carson said Putin shares a deep historical tie with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, suggesting he became acquainted with them during their college days in Moscow when Putin was a young KGB operative.
“He has longstanding relationships down there,” Carson said. “Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, were both classmates in the class of 1968 at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow where they became acquainted with a young Vladimir Putin.”
The Christian Broadcasting Network’s report referred to this as a “little known historical fact.” The trouble is, it’s little known because it’s not a historical fact.
There’s literally no evidence to suggest Khamenei ever studied in the former Soviet Union. And since he and Abbas are several years older than Putin, the timeline doesn’t even make sense – Putin would have been a 16-year-old high school student at the time.
Note what happened when the Christian Broadcasting Network sought some clarification on this point.
In a follow-up interview, Dr. Carson would not disclose his sources, but told CBN News he learned about the ties between the three leaders from advisors across the government, including the CIA.
He said the connection helps to explain what’s currently happening around the world.
“That’s what I call wisdom,” Carson said. “You get these pieces of information. You talk to various people. You begin to have an overall picture. You begin to understand why people do what they do.”
Carson went on to say, “There’s a lot more information that I’ve gotten that’s probably not appropriate for revelation.”
I see.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but we’re delving deep into crackpot waters at this point. An unhinged presidential candidate, citing clandestine sources that probably do not exist, is now describing a decades-old relationship between foreign leaders that also does not appear to exist. All of this comes on the heels of increasingly alarming claims that Carson appears to have invented out of whole cloth.
Is there a point at which the political world has a conversation about whether Carson is grounded enough to be seen as a credible candidate for public office? Is it fair to say we’ve reached that point now?