Asked at a congressional hearing this week about his unreasonably expensive, taxpayer-funded furniture, HUD Secretary Ben Carson distanced himself from the decision -- and blamed his wife.
As the Daily Beast reported yesterday, one of the cabinet secretary's supporters on Capitol Hill has an entirely different culprit in mind.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) appeared to blame the nefarious "Deep State" for ordering a costly dining set for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson.During a recent appearance on Talk! Of the Town, an upstate New York local radio show, the New York Republican was asked about the decision to buy a $31,000 dining room set for Carson's office last year. Tenney told the hosts that the "Ben Carson story is so misunderstood" before pointing to a no-named staffer of cryptic origin as the culprit.
After referencing a conversation with a HUD staffer, the GOP lawmaker specifically said, "Somebody in the Deep State -- it was not one of his people, apparently -- ordered a table, like a conference room table or whatever it was for a room."
There are basically three angles to this to keep in mind. First, Tenney, after just a year on Capitol Hill, is quickly developing a reputation as one of Congress' most outlandish members. A month ago, she was the lawmaker who thought it'd be a good idea to argue many mass murders "end up being Democrats." Two weeks earlier, Tenney argued that Democratic reactions to Donald Trump's State of the Union address were "un-American," adding, "And they don't love our country."
This is not the path an elected official follows if he or she wants to earn respect and credibility.
Second, in this case, Tenney is factually wrong. Nefarious forces didn't buy Carson's furniture; there's email evidence that the secretary and his wife did.
Finally, and most importantly, far-right Republicans really need to get over this "Deep State" stuff. If you haven't heard the phrase, a variety of conservative conspiracy theorists -- including the president -- apparently believe there are secretive and corrupt federal officials lurking throughout the federal government, quietly working to undermine and delegitimize Trump's presidency.
The more the phrase has caught on in unhinged circles, the more those who believe in a "Deep State" instinctively turn to their conspiracy theory to explain developments they don't like.
Tenney may be trying to defend the administration, but she's actually helping prove how foolish the conspiracy theory is.