Inviting Ben Carson to give a high-profile speech at the Republican National Convention may have seemed like a good idea to party officials and organizers. The retired physician may have failed badly as a presidential candidate, but he remains popular with the GOP base, and his speeches tend to be well received.
Sure, Carson has struggled badly at times as a surrogate for Donald Trump's campaign, but how bad could he be in Cleveland? After all, the party would review his prepared remarks in advance.
Of course, that only works out when Carson actually sticks to the script. Last night, he didn't.
Ben Carson went off script during his convention address Tuesday night, linking frequent conservative target Saul Alinsky -- and Lucifer -- to Hillary Clinton. "One of the things I have learned about Hillary Clinton is that one of her heroes is Saul Alinsky," Carson said. Alinsky has been a popular target for the right and his ideas have been tied to President Obama and Clinton. Carson said Alinsky acknowledged Lucifer in one of his books.
Straying from his prepared text, Carson posed a hypothetical question to his audience: "This is a nation where every coin in our pocket and every bill in our wallet says in 'In God We Trust.' So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?"
Let's put aside for now the fact that Alinsky, a '60s-era organizer, is not actually Hillary Clinton's "role model." Let's also look past the right's bizarre preoccupation with the long-deceased radical activist.
Instead let's pause to appreciate what's become of Republican politics in the 21st century. Those who tuned in to watch the Republican National Convention in prime time heard a former presidential candidate play a degrees-of-separation game connecting the Democratic nominee to Lucifer.
And he was quite serious.
Carson went on to say, "The secular progressive agenda is antithetical to the principles of the founding of this nation. And if we continue to allow them to take God out of our lives, God will remove himself from us. We will not be blessed, and our nation will go down the tubes. And we will be responsible for that. We don't want that to happen."